Thursday, December 5, 2019

The DOC sparkling wines of Trentino-Alto Adige

I have embarked on a process to map and document the sparkling wines of Italy but have found it prudent to do so on a region-by-region basis. I began that journey with the sparkling wines of Piemonte and continue here with the sparkling wines of Trentino-Alto Adige.

Alto Adige is one of two provinces which constitute the autonomous Trentino-Alto Adige region in north Italy. Trentino is the southern portion of the region and, centered around the city of Trento, is classically Italian. Alto Adige, centered around the city of Bolzano, is bordered to the north and east by Austria, to the west by Switzerland, to the southeast by Veneto, to the south by Trentino, and to the southwest by Lombardy. Alto Adige was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to World War I and was known at that time as South Tyrol (Südtirol). At the end of the war Italy came into possession of Südtirol and changed the name to Alto Adige as a part of the integration process. Its Germanic roots are reflected in the fact that 70% of the population speaks German today.

The map below shows the sparkling wine regions of Trentino-Alto Adige. A discussion of each region follows.

Alto Adige DOC
I have written about the broader Alto Adige DOC elsewhere.

According to, "As a result of its overall climatic conditions, the abundance of microclimates, and the composition of the soils between the Alpine mountain landscape and Mediterranean valley soils, Alto Adige is virtually ideal for the production of sparkling wines." The key characteristics (as identified by the source) are as follows:
  • Locations from 500 to 1000 m
  • Abundant sun during the day
  • Cool temperatures during the night
  • Warm soils rich in minerals
  • Base wine varieties (Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay) with an affinity for the characteristic soils.
The sparkling wine is made using the Metodo Classico and utilizing Pinot Bianco, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay grapes and is characterized by full fruit aromas, a mineral-rich acidity, a savory character, and sleekness.

The sparkling wine producers are:
  • Kettmeirs
  • Arunda Winery
  • Von Braunbachs
  • St. Paul's Winery
  • Martini
  • Cantina Kaltern
  • Meran Winery.
Trento DOC
Trento DOC is the specific appellation for sparkling wine produced in the Trento portion of Trento-Alto Adige. As is the case in Alto Adige, the wine is made using the Metodo Classico.

Trentino terroir is similar to that of Alto Adige even though it is 150 m lower down the valley. The DOC stretches for 800 ha over 74 municipalities with elevations ranging between 100 and 800 m.

Its climate is modified by the peaks and ridges which protect the region from the elements. A cool breeze from the mountains minimizes the exposure to rot and fungal diseases. Two winds blow on the area north of Lake Garda from March to September: a north-to-south morning wind and a south-to-north afternoon wind.

The two major growing areas are Val di Cembra and Valle dei Laghi with the former being narrower, with more volcanic soil, and showing greater effects of elevation. The latter is closer to Lake Garda and shows more of a Mediterranean climate. The soil is a stony limestone in the upper reaches with moraine deposits lower down.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir  dominate the vineyards. Chardonnay does better at higher altitudes with sun exposure (provides the backbone) while Pinot Noir enjoys lower, less sunny altitudes (imparts body). Producers source grapes from multiple areas and will blend wines from warmer and cooler sites.

According to Kerin O'Keefe, the sparkling wines of this region show "pronounced aromatics, elegance, and bright acidity." Two producers that she recommends are Ferrari (2010 Perlé Nero Extra Brut Riserva) and Rotari (2011 Flavio Brut Riserva).

Approximately 7,500,000 bottles of sparkling wine are produced in this region annually.

Delle Venezie DOC
This region specializes in the production of Pinot Grigio in an area spanning the totality of Friuli-Venezia Guilia, Veneto, and the Trento province of the autonomous Trento-Alto Adige region. The raisons d'etre of this expansive region are (i) proximity and (ii) pedi-climatic affinity. The wide plain between the Adriatic Sea and the Po River has been "developed over centuries by deposition of both calcareous and coarse material and gravel and sand" and also has good drainage capability.

The proximity to the Alps results in a cool and windy climate which contributes to high acid retention in the grapes, a characteristic of the wines. Water is limited but is sufficient for a regular ripening of the grapes.

The region experiences significant diurnal temperature variation:
A marked night-day temperature change during the ripening of the grapes ... enhances and maintains the aromatic outfit of the grapes ... this perfume, combined with the acidic framework, allows ... fresh and aromatic sparkling wines.
The sparkling wines must be tank-fermented and must contain no more than 32 g/L of residual sugar.

This DOC became functional with the 2017 vintage, replacing the IGT of the same name. The IGT which it supplanted will be known as IGT Trevenezie henceforth.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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