Visitors to Italy often find themselves trapped in the well-worn sangiovese-strewn hills of Eastern Tuscany. But the Chianti wines are a product of a warm growing climate. What about cool?
I recently ventured to discover the real heart that makes the classy end of Italian sparkling wine throb. The precondition of making metodo classico – Italian speak for bollicini made the same way as their cousins do in Champagne, is a cool or cold growing environment. There is much to be excited around visiting the bubbles-making region of Trento, Italy’s northern-most.
First it has to pass the cool test. No problem there.
Now this vintage, 2015, those people in Champagne finished their harvest before the Trentians. Although Champagne is the most northerly-orientated of France’s cool regions, and reaches to 270 metres, the Trento harvest at 500m starts later. Some feat. Must be good for the bubbles base wines.
Ferrari’s most commonly encountered wine is Ferrari Brut. It has no year designation, a normal feature of gulpable bubbles. This is decidedly fresh when made for the market containing 2 year-old chardonnays.
Within a few minutes of meeting Ferrari’s soft-spoken chief winemaker Marcello Lunelli I was hearing graciously how this region supplies long cellar-aged, hence long-lived sparklers.
You see it’s all in the taste-that shrill acidity which sits in your mouth, ensures your first and last sensation is the tartness we call minerality. Or the acid gives a linear expression down the length of your tongue.
Ferrari Perle 2008, all chardonnay, is the goto wine to seek this minerality; zippy, citrussy, and the name sounds so charming-diamonds, glitter-in-the glass, low on sugar (4 grams) so the acid pirouettes in one swallow. It’s good. And it smells of honey sweet and white flowers: the good folks at Ferrari call it the honey aroma of the tiglio tree.
Trento is an ancient Roman town wedged between the two imposing side of the Dolomites Mountains; rugged and ugly monsters, clinging to the flood-sluiced banks of the Adige River. The vines clamber on the rocky slopes and terraces, barely planted on the narrow alluvial plains reserved for vegetables and apple crops.
Giulio Ferrari established the company in 1902 by planting chardonnay in the valley. He sold it to Trento wine merchant Bruno Lunelli in 1952 when without an heir. Subsequently Bruno bought an iconic chardonnay vineyard in 1964, releasing a hallmark wine only in seasons when the conditions smile, the first being 1972.
The current Giulio is 2004 is good, will age well until 2018; delicious, single vineyard fizz, lightly honied, high on minerality, nice gas and even nicer crisp tones of acidity. The wine the founder would drink.
For me the 1987 Giulio Ferrari, Reserve of the founder, Extra Brut (2.5 grams) smiled as I unpacked a bottle for my cellar; it was disgorged in 2011, living on its moribund yeast for 27 years.
WHERE TO STAY IN TRENTO: Grand Hotel Trento, Piazza Dante, 20; +39 0461 27100; grandhoteltrento.com; a lovely old world style hotel, great breakfasts.
EAT IN TRENTO: Osteria Le Due Spade, via Don Arcangelo Rizzi, 11,; +39 0461 234343; leduespade.com ; established 1545, well-known and respected, has a top sommelier, inventive plates by Massimiliano Peterlana.
Peter Scudamore-Smith MW visited Ferrari Trento privately as Uncorked and Cultivated tours and travels.