1 Dec 2017 / 12:12

The irresistible charm of sparkling wine from the mountains

Counting the wineries in the Trentodoc denomination is a challenge. We regularly do a census, but there’s always something new. As we write this time, they're number 49, but by the time you read this, the threshold of 50 producers might have been crossed.

The irresistible charm of sparkling wine from the mountains

Counting the wineries in the Trentodoc denomination is a challenge. We regularly do a census, but there’s always something new. As we write this time, they're number 49, but by the time you read this, the threshold of 50 producers might have been crossed.

Sparkling Wine from the Mountains

Sparkling Wine from the Mountains (in Italian, Bollicine di Montagna) is the catchphrase that the Istituto del Trento DOC has chosen for its promotion in Italy and around the world. Some days ago we visited Trento (the northern Italian city in the Dolomite mountains that is the headquarters of Trentodoc) during the Bollicine sulla Città event, a showcase for the area’s spumante for 13 years. In 2017, the festival lasted from November 16 to December 10, featuring a panoply of events for wine lovers and gourmets that offered the opportunity to taste and enjoy Trentodoc production in different settings. Restaurants, wine bars, the Enoteca Provinciale in Palazzo Roccabruna, wineries, and even Trento’s science museum, MUSE, served the bubbly along with excellent local foods. It was the perfect occasion for tasting both the most recent releases and some well-aged vintages, a memorable experience.

 

Trentodoc

The denomination

Founded in 1984, the Trentino denomination was for a long time represented solely by the Ferrari winery. Today, that firm still accounts for 50% of the Trentodoc produced and is one of the best interpreters of spumante on the national scene. Production is above 8 million bottles annually, and the zone’s wineries, often led by young winegrowers, can be found from Val di Cembra to Rovereto, from Valle dei Laghi to the heights around Trento. Altitudes and climates vary among these locations, as does the soil, which includes calcareous formations and porphyry formed by ancient volcanoes. The principal grape is chardonnay. Sometimes it’s fruity and rich, sometimes subtle and nervous. Other varieties include fairly limited amounts of pinot nero and even smaller vineyards of pinot bianco and meunier, all interpreted with luminosity in mind. Although Brut and Brut Riserva are the stars of the show, in recent years, sweetness is falling out of favor and versions such as Pas Dosé or Extra Brut are moving forward. Trentino has never had as close a relationship with oak barrels as other winemaking areas. The vineyards, often planted at very high altitudes (1,000 meters above sea level is no longer daunting), are refreshed by a cold wind that comes from the mountains, the pelèr, as well as caressed by a warm southern breeze from Lake Garda. The wines have a crystalline purity that permits the different terroirs and grape varieties to have their say. Chardonnay, especially, shows an assertive character that reflects the Dolomite mountains. “We are growing,” said Enrico Zanoni, president of the Istituto del Trentodoc. “The 12 million mark is within our grasp.” Export is a longer range project, even though the denomination – despite the fact that Italian metodo classico is still hardly known outside the country – sells 20% of its product abroad, much more than other classic sparkling wine zones.

 

Trenrodoc

The success of Trentodoc

The most important factor, however, is that among the wineries there’s a buzz of activity, and the territory itself is enthusiastic about it. “In 2016 we grew 10% in volume and 14% in value,” Zanoni continued, “and the projections for the end of the year promise an even more brilliant 2017. The true limit to growth is the high cost of the vineyards, which means many wineries can’t expand as they would like to. That’s why cooperation is strong in this sector in Trentino. Slowly, slowly, a series of medium-sized but high quality wineries are finding their place in the market alongside very prestigious firms. There’s also collaboration between cooperative and private wineries.

What, we ask, is the Trentodoc secret? Zanoni has no doubts. “We have an extraordinary resource, and our style is expressive purity. Let the mountain speak. The market has understood what we’re doing, and it’s rewarding us.”

 

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