Is there a place for Italian sparkling wine in the market?
When it comes to sparkling wines, everyone seems to know the likes of Prosecco, Champagne, Cava and even Cremant, but other Italian sparkling wines, namely those made in the traditional method, rarely seem to get much of a look in.
Italy takes on the traditional method
So where do these wines fit into the grand scheme of things? If you were to place Italian sparkling wines on a sliding scale, with Champagne at one end and Prosecco at the other, then Italian traditional method sparkling sits in a sweet spot between the two.
Naturally, Champagne is the big name in terms of luxury, famous for its steely acidity and complex autolytic flavour characteristics, with Prosecco seen as a softer and more fruit-forward style. With Italian traditional method sparkling wines, what you get is a middle ground between the two, not only in terms of style, but also in terms of cost, making them a great crowd pleaser.
Of the traditional method Italian sparkling wines, Franciacorta has been nudging its way into the UK market, becoming popular with lovers of long-lees-aged traditional method wines looking for a twist on the classic Champagne. One of the main differences between Franciacorta and Champagne is that as well as using Chardonnay and Pinot Nero, the wines commonly have a percentage of Pinot Bianco included in the blend too. Whilst Pinot Blanc is permitted in Champagne, it's rarely seen used amongst the Grand Marques.
Then, there's the Prosecco region. As we know, they're more famous for producing easy-drinking bubbles made using the tank method, but they have experimented with the traditional method too. Here, any sparkling wine made using the traditional method bears the name 'Talento', of which Bisol have a fine example.
Enter... Ferrari Trento
Then, we have the superstar of Trento DOC, Ferrari Trento. This producer, recently welcomed to the Bibendum portfolio, set out with the vision of creating an Italian sparkling wine to rival the best of Champagne. Starting their quest at the turn of the 1990s, they achieved their aim by using French varietals, pioneering Chardonnay plantings in Italy and making small batches of high-quality wines using the traditional method.
Over the years, their production expanded, but quality was never compromised. The resulting wines have the finesse and complexity of Champagne, alongside appealing riper fruit characteristics.
The Ferrari Perle 2014 is a great example of this. Made from 100% Chardonnay, it's spent a total of 50 months on lees, which is clearly evident in the opulent, creamy style with complex autolytic notes of toast. Alongside this, the wine has ripe fruit characters of pear and a hint of floral blossom, softening the more savoury edges and leaving you with an approachable sparkling wine that's incredibly easy to drink.