Fred Nijhuis

Your favorite Dutch wine writer

Bubbels deel 4, Alles, overal vandaan… Bubbles part 4, Everything from everywhere…

De grote finale…..

De vorige 3 stukken die ik over mousserende wijnen schreef, waren vooral bedoeld om de enorme verschillen tussen mousserende wijnen te benadrukken.

The grand finale …..

The last three pieces I wrote on sparkling wines, were primarily intended to emphasize the differences between them. Some time ago, I organized an evening at La Enoteca in Rotterdam where the diversity could actually be tasted. It is fun to read about it, but to experience the colours and flavours yourself, is of course quite different and a lot more fun. I hope that this article inspires many to do the same.

The evening at la Enoteca made clear that sparkling wines are incomparable, even if they come from the same region. The typicity of the country, a specific terroir, other grape varieties, individual philosophy of winemakers and alternative winemaking methods, provide a variety that is unparalleled. It is wonderful to taste them all and choose your own favourites.

The unique characteristics of each individual sparkling wine, makes it possible for everyone to choose his or her favourites, for different moods, moments, seasons and of course, to enjoy with a huge variety of dishes.

The latter was extensively ‘tested’ in La Enoteca, a very pleasant place to enjoy the finest wines and special food without the sometimes inevitable bla bla. The winelist of La Enoteca is impressive and has many ‘collector’s items’ which do not just gather dust, but are there to be enjoyed. At first owner Lou Borrani may seem a cocky, arrogant fanatic from Rotterdam (apologies: Schiedam), but who looks behind this façade, clearly sees a driven, highly experienced, knowledgeable professional, a generous host with it’s heart in the right place and an unparalleled passion for wine and good food. The team of La Enoteca assured the right ambiance, glasses, service and many tasteful dishes that led to some surprising wine & food pairings.

In company of good friends and relatives, we tasted about 30 sparkling wines, most of them in series of three to accentuate their differences in colour, flavour and taste even better. No contest, but an exploration of varieties in character. It soon became clear that there is indeed no such thing as “a sparkling wine”, a Champagne, a Lambrusco or a Franciacorta. Almost without any exceptions, the wines showed the typical expression of  their terroir, grapes and the hand of the winemaker who in the end decides what happens with all those influences. Therefore it was not strange, but fun and instructive to taste a sparkling Riesling from Germany as well as a Sparkling Shiraz from Australia.

After several hours of tasting and it was also clear that, although the overall quality was high, there are large differences in appreciation by those who taste the wines. Recently on TV it was shown again that not only consumers, but also experienced professionals rarely agree when tasting wines. My assertion that wine tasting is not an exact science and “points are pointless’, it was confirmed. Also at La Enoteca opinions varied. But, more important, everyone enjoyed the selection and could choose his or her own favourites, often more than one (two, three…). Below, a list of the wines, a brief explanation and my taste experience in words. Perhaps a source of inspiration for others.

Prior to that overview, my thanks to:

– Importers:
Bacchantes, Bubbles by Bruud, August Hoon, Hosman Vins, Karakter Wijnimport, De Microscoop, Moët-Hennessy Netherlands, Residence Wines, Verbunt Wijnkopers, De Vier Heemskinderen, Vinites and Werkhoven Wines

– Producers:
Berlucchi, Casebianche, Castagna, Cleto Chiarli, Andrea Faccio / Villa Giada, Medici Ermete and Raventós i Blanc
– Tot PR
– Nitiya and Daan Jonker for several pictures

And last but not least:
– Everyone at La Enoteca and Lou Borrani in particular

Alksandr Cuvee, Chardonnay, Acorex, Moldova
Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc added. Jean-Mark Sauboua the French winemaker on this domain in Moldova (between Romania and Ukraine) with manufacturing facilities in Corten, Tvardita and Valea Perjei.
Fine mousse, ripe scent, floral tones, dried apple, peach and also some pear, smooth and well-fresh, despite the mature style, some toast in the aftertaste. Very successful for its origin and price.

Van Volxem 1900 Riesling Sekt, Wiltingen, Saarland, Germany
Roman Niewodniczanski is a passionate, driven, almost maniacal producer with a huge respect for nature. His wines are purer than pure and belong to the top in Germany.
Residual sugar: 7, total acidity 6.5, alcohol 11.5%
Beautiful, racy scent, clearly Riesling, aromatic with mineral expression, a lot of flint; in the mouth slim, sleek, beautiful, lively acidity, impressions of brioche, white and yellow fruits, excellent sweet / acid balance and fine length. A great glass of wine, pure, natural and very exciting.

Triple Zero, Jacky Blot, Chenin Blanc, Loire, France
Three times zero; no added sugars for chaptalisation, tirage liqueur or liqueur d’expedition.
A wine from at least 50 year old vines in the appellation Mont Louis. Selected grapes with a minimum potential alcohol of 12%. Soft pressing, fermentation in old oak barrels, made according to the method Ancestrale; transferring the wine from the barrel in the bottle before the first alcoholic fermentation is completed. With the end of the fermentation in the bottle, the wine gets its natural light sparkling character. Disgorgement takes place after approximately 15 months.
Beautiful scent, flawless with accents of brioche, typical Chenin Blanc, white blossom, slim with high acidity and thereby refreshing and uplifting, smoky mineral notes on the finish, intense wine

Crémant d’Alsace, Clement Klur, France
In the 13th century village in the French Alsace Katzenthal lie the vineyards of Clement Klur. Together with his wife Francine, he makes wines since 1999 under his own name in a biodynamic way. Made from Pinot Blanc and Auxerrois who have undergone malolactic fermentation.
Wide, generous, mature with elements of ripe apple and pear compote, sultry with hints of cream, clear sweetness, fully mature, easy and accessible

Premiere Bulle de Limoux Blanquette de Limoux, 2010, France
According to some, the Bulle de Limoux was the first sparkling wine ever made and it is said that Dom Pérignon took the recipe / technique from Limoux to Champagne. History records that wine was invented in 1531 in St. Hilaire, just south of Limoux. Although these facts (like the Big Bang theory, the Mayan calendar, etc.) are regularly challenged, the reality is that the Blanquette de Limoux a classic, historical, good and popular sparkling wine. It is served in top restaurants like the Librije (***) in Zwolle and every year, many Dutch wine & food celebrities show up at the annual auction of wine barrels in Limoux, to try and buy their own personal wine.
Made of 90% Mauzac, 5% and 5% Chardonnay Chenin with lower pressure of 2.5 bar and therefore more friendly character.
Fine mousse, soft and easy flavours and taste, accessible by softer mousse and taste, dry but not aggressive, nice balance between sweetness and acidity, pleasant and affordable.

Valgrès Rive di Combai, Grand Cuvée Extra dry, Serre, Valdobbiandene, Italy
Made from grapes from the best plots of Serre on the Rive di Combai in the heart of the Prosecco DOCG area. The grapes for the Valgrès are on a very steep slope with an ideal exhibition.
Nice clean smell, green apple, pear, blossom, jasmine and a certain terroir influence, smooth taste, yet bold with a nice length and complexity, which maintains a modest character.

Grave di Stecca, Nini Franco Prosecco di Valdobiadene Superiore Brut, 2009, Italy
100% Glera (the historical name of the Prosecco grape), the old vineyard Grave di Stecca, a clos on the slopes of the Prealpi, near the city of Valdobbiadene.
Deep in colour but still lively (almost all other 2009’s are already dead and buried); impressions of dried fruits like apricots and apple, sage is also recognizable in the smell, rich and generous in the glass, lots of juice and flavour, developed but still lively and definitely not tired, Prosecco rich with potential, very special

Premium Vecchia Modena, Cleto Chiarli, Lambrusco di Sorbara, 2011, Italy
This wine has everything a Lambrusco di Sorbara can and should have, a bright pink colour, a charming bouquet with hints of strawberries and raspberries, delicious dry and fresh, pungent flavour with fine lively acidity and perfect balance, a party in the glass. A delicious Lambrusco

Otello, Nero di Lambrusco (Maestri), Ceci, Emilia IGT, Italy
Harvested early October and fermented after soaking of 5-7 days at low temperature. The scent is somewhat restricted, doesn’t give much at first, but the taste is inviting and pure, dry with notes of strawberry and elderberry, good body with ripe tannins for grip and a delicate, well balanced, almost hidden sweetness. Very nice.

Concerto Medici Ermete, Lambrusco Reggiano, 2011, Italy
Intense purple-red, intense smell of black fruits, blackberries, elderberries and black cherries; completely dry taste, very fruity, soft centre, vivid and fresh, some tannin and fine acidity complement the flavour, challenging wine with perfect balance, invites to eat

Grosvenor, Ridgeview Brut, Sussex, 2009, Great Britain
Blend of mainly Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, complemented with Chardonnay.
Full colour, straw yellow, intense mousse, fine bubbles, scent with brioche, fresh apples and white fruit, nice and tight in taste with a racy acidity, yet juicy and powerful, very fresh aftertaste, long finish with hint of raisins, almonds and toast, very nice!

Cellarius, Berlucchi, Franciacorta Brut, 2007, Italy
Blend of Chardonnay (70%) and Pinot Noir (30%). More than 30 months on the lees.
Elegant and round in flavour and taste, very soft and almost velvety, juicy with good acidity, ripe but fresh, delicate fruit tones, some nutty accents, apple, pear and freshly baked bread and brioche, subtle sweetness in the final, rich, complex and tasteful wine

Reserve J. Schram, Schramsberg, 2004, Califonia
85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and made to age.
Stubborn odour, nor very expressive at first, slowly open up in the glass, fanned out widely and shows many mature aromas ranging from mandarins and zest to nuts and dried fruit, in the aftertaste also red fruit and honey, long intense finale, broad shouldered wine with its own character, a wine for dinner

Philipponnat, Champagne Royale Reserve Brut NV, France
65% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Meunier.
The Pinot Noir grapes are mainly from own vineyards in Ay and Mareuil sur Ay. The Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier from the heart of the Champagne region. Reserve wines: 25-40%, supplemented with younger wine in a “solera” system. Wine undergoes malolactic fermentation. Dosage of 8 g/l, about 3 years on the lees. Tasted from half bottles.
Beautiful scent, wide and aromatic, youthful and unmistakably Champagne, complex, lots of fruits, both dried and fresh, citrus and white fruit, brioche, toast and hints of honey, a lot of juice and flavour, nice acidity and well dosed bitterness in the aftertaste, hint of raspberry reverberates in the final, very clean.

Pol Roger Champagne Blanc de Blancs, 2000, France
Grapes from Grand Cru vineyards of the Cotes des Blancs. Nine years matured before he comes on the market.
Wide and generous in both nose and mouth, fully mature with the soft lush features of the generous 2000, sultry turn with fresh acidity, white nuts, earthy, terroir, white currants and good length, mature character remains

Cuvée Les Echansons, Mailly, Champagne Grand Cru, 1999, France
75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay from vineyards planted before 1938.
Champagne of small cooperative with only Grand Cru vineyards in 40 different locations in the area Montagne de Reims.
Matured flavours in the nose, dried fruit, nuts, bread, raisins, apricots and orange marmalade, very concentrated, powerful and yet with refinement and excellent balance, intriguing wine that challenges and invites you to smell and taste it, very complex, great!

Elisabetta Abrami, Franciacorta Rosé, Italy
Elisabetta Abrami is a relatively new producer in Franciacorta. Works with many organic and Pinot Nero. This Brut rosé example up to 70% Pinot Nero, supplemented with 30% Chardonnay
Well nevertheless intense fragrance with delicate aromas from Pinot Nero hear fine red fruit, strawberries, grapy, youthful, smooth taste with good stamina, excellent balance, remains fresh and invigorating; very good

Billecart-Salmon Rose, Champagne, France
Blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.
Wide and luxuriant flavour, deep and powerful, seductive by tones of ripe red fruit, complexity by complementary flavours of white nuts, brioche and made a slight spiciness, beautiful dressing, lots of juice and flavour with the right refinement and a subtle bitterness in the long finish, confirming his reputation as one of the finest rosé Champagnes.

Sparkling Genesis, Castagna, Beechworth 2008, Australia
Biologically, two years on the lees.
No a cheap marketing product, but a mature wine with a story and character. Castagna explores and expands his territory, adding unique wines to the world.
Quirky smell, lots of fruit, blackberries, red currants, cherries, clear Shiraz, some sandalwood, thyme and pepper in both smell and taste fine balance between acidity, sweet ripe fruit and soft tannins, challenging and with a strikingly beautiful refinement

Serendipity, La Matta Spumante Integral, Az.Agr. Casebianche, Italy
Serendipity means a “happy accident” or “pleasant surprise”, finding something good or useful without looking for it to be. Made from organically grown, harvested late Fiano grapes in the province of Salerno in Puglia.
After a gentle compression is a part of the must, immediately frozen, and then as the “liquor liqueur” is used instead of sugar, for the second fermentation inside the bottle. The base undergoes complete alcoholic fermentation in steel, followed by a light cold stabilization. Late November (at the earliest) defrosts must be retained and adds it to the base wine. Immediately afterwards the wine is bottled and provides the added musts for a second fermentation in the bottle.
The wine is obviously cloudy, because the remains of the added must has not be removed.
Soft mousse, the nose is fresh, clean and fruity and very youthful, the taste is completely dry with good acidity and flawless fruit, easily digestible with some citrus notes and white fruit, exciting and very natural, surprising wine with its own story and identity.

Sottoriva Frizzante, Malibran, 2011, Italy
Another lovely, this time by 100% Glera / Prosecco. Manually harvested and then made as Prosecco originally was made, ie fermentation in the bottle. The deposit is not removed which the wine slightly turbid, but also completely dry.
Fine mousse, restrained, good odour intensity with aromas of ripe white fruits like pear and apple, white walnut some bread crust, good acidity and a very lively palate, a great buy and another distinguishingly wine; versatile in gastronomy.

Grand Même, Mauzac Nature, Robert & Bernard Plageoles, Gaillac, France
Plageoles is the undisputed leader in Gaillac. His vision, commitment and wines are widely appreciated. The family is close to nature and is certified organic. The wine is made from the Mauzac, a grape that was used by the Romans and both dry, sparkling wines displays as silent white sweet and lovely, a versatile grape so. This sparkling Mauzac is made on an old, traditional way, the method Gaillacoise or method Rural, which has not yet fully fermented wine is bottled and the continuation of the fermentation in the bottle, the wine has a soft sparkling character. There is no sugar added, the wine is naturally quite dry.
Fine, delicate aroma with impressions of dried apple, some nuts and light straw in the mouth pleasantly dry with superb acidity, a soft mousse and perfect balance, the wine has a lot of character, but a very friendly sort, very pure until the long finish. Very interesting In gastronomy, as an aperitif or companion of many dishes and cheeses and even with not too sweet pastry.

Cava Gran Reserva Personel Manuel Raventós, Raventós i Blanc, 1999, Spain
Two bottles of the Vinotheca Raventós i Blanc were granted for this tasting after I tasted them earlier this year. That was during a vertical tasting at The Grand in Amsterdam with several excellent cavas of this exemplary winery. I was deeply impressed by these wines. Made of 25% Xarel · lo (planted in 1954), 10% Chardonnay (1980), 25% Parellada and 40% Macabeu. The year 1999 was relatively cold and dry the grapes and gave a lot of power. Manual harvest, gentle pressing and separate, alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel. Second fermentation in bottle with a maturation of less than 11 years lie. 405 bottles made …..
Alcohol: 12.3% Acidity: 6.8 g / l tartaric, pH: 3.05, total sugar content: 1.5 g / l
What a wine! Strong and intriguing character, that not everyone understood or appreciated. The smell is intense, very strong, wide and extremely complex with many mature notes, dried apricot, brioche, yellow plums, yeast, bread crust, nuts, raisins, straw, honey, saffran and so on. In the mouth it takes possession of your palette and leaves impressions of the elements that already appeared in the smell, but complemented by a beautiful acidity, lots of juice, hints of orange, zest, more dried fruit and a subtle spiciness. Remains as strong as delicate. One of the finest cavas. A privilege to taste the wine again.

Cuvée Annamaria Clementi, Ca’del Bosco, Franciacorta DOCG, 2003, Italy
If you name a wine after your mother, it better be the best you can do. The Annamaria Clementi by Maurizio Zanella is just that ….
As they themselves indicate, there are for this wine no compromises, no concessions. Only the best is good enough. The base consists of perfect grapes, only in the best years suitable for this wine making. 55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Blanc and 25% Pinot Noir, selected from 16 different vineyards with plants that are on average almost 40 years old. Low yield of only 5400 kg grapes, good for 2600 liters of wine. After the alcoholic fermentation follows a malolactic in barriques, where the wine total 7 months stay. In May 2004 the tirage liqueur is added and the wine laid to rest in the cellars of Ca’del Bosco. Since the wine has 6.5 years to lie matured. Disgorgement in autumn 2010, 46.000 bottles made.
The nose shows the richness of the 2003 harvest, ripe fruit, lush, broad, almost unctuous, but with the right fraîcheur even remarkably fresh for 2003; many accents of brioche, almonds and honey, besides raisins and apple blossom; in the mouth complex aromas of ripe fruit, a subtle sweetness, full and balanced, less nervous than 2002, more rounded by the warm harvest; ends clean, purifying your mouth with notes of crème brûlée and a delicate spiciness. Great wine for me now, perfectly mature, but with potential for further maturation.

Giulio Ferrari, TRENTODOC, 2001, Italy
First created in 1972, small production of 42,000 bottles, less than 1% of the total annual production. Grapes (100% Chardonnay) from the Maso Pianizza vineyard, located at 500-600 meters altitude. Ripens at least 10 years on his lie. The 2011 is the current year on the market.
Deep golden, straw yellow color, rich, ripe and yet compact odor, does not yet fully; ripe, sweet apples, nuts, tropical fruits, apricot and citrus, candied, mouth-filling, richly structured, powerful with the right balance and finesse, depth and length, with plenty of tension in the aftertaste of dried herbs, good acidity, lots of juiciness and absolute potential

Poire Granit, Cidre Poiré de Poeriers Anciens du Granit Pétillant Naturel , Eric Bordelet, Normandië, France
Well, not a wine in the strict sense of the word, but a wonderful sparkling product made by former sommelier Eric Bordelet. He wanted to make the best cider in the world, and many believe he has succeeded. Biodynamic, extremely low production (5 tons per hectare. Instead of the usual 70 tons), 20 different varieties of apple trees and 14 pear varieties and a manual picking. The fruit dries 3-9 weeks in wooden crates which is then chopped and puree about 30 hours soaked. Manually pressed (with a traditional wooden press) and a fermentation containing 1 up to 4 months. There is no chaptalisation applied and virtually no sulfur used.
The result is an equally intense and subtle cider with taste and character. Complex with a delicate mousse and beautiful pure tones of honey, blossom and (of course) both fresh, dried and caramelised pear. The only 3% alcohol, the wine is easy to digest. Exciting and always a special experience.

Moscato d’Asti, Villa Giada di Andrea Faccio, 2011, Italy
Moscato d’Asti is a wine with a lot of supporters and opponents. The sweet encounters many against the chest or is properly nurtured. Keyword Moscato d’Asti is balance, perhaps more than in any wine whatsoever. Sweet elements must be balanced out by the right acidity. Many Moscato’s are just flat and sweet, a minority has a freshness that invites to drink a second, third, fourth glass. In summer a good Moscato is fun drinking, especially when it is chilled. In other seasons it is delicious with fresh fruit, pastries, and even as an aperitif or just in between. Andrea Faccio is a producer who learned the trade from his father, but by travelling, asking questions, watching and listening to many professional all around the world, he learned how to add an extra dimension to the wines of his family. His speciality is Barbera, but like any domain in the Asti-region, they can not do without a Moscato.
The vinification is aimed to the aromatic expression of the Moscatodruif, so briefly and cooled, followed by a just enough filtration to avoid further fermentation. Already in the spring after the harvest, the wine is marketed. Several bottlings ensure that the wine is always fresh.
Very aromatic, with typical aromas of the Moscato, supplemented with some sage and citrus, a fresh sweet characterizes the taste of the wine is approachable and seductive, perfect balance, decent length. Not the most complex wine, but that is not the intention of the wine.

Dom Perignon Champagne Millisimé, Moët et Chandon, 2003, France
A producer I met recently, called Dom Perignon the best wine in the world. Not purely because of the quality, but also because of the brilliant, ultimate concept. Very high quality, great price and a very exclusive image while the production reaches about 5 million bottles every year. The composition, origin and vinification is unknown. For decades, Rolls Royce was asked the exact amount of horsepower of their engines. The only answer was: “Enough.” Dom Perignon sees himself surrounded by mysteries and lovers devour them. Sometimes it is not necessary to discuss if 12.2 or 12.3% Pinot Something is used … Sometimes it’s just enough to be impressed by the overall product and let emotion prevail over analysis .
We decided to end the official part of the evening with the 2003 Dom Perignon and there was nobody who objected…. The wine showed to be a worthy ending of a magnificent evening and proved why the wine is so successful. The name evokes beautiful associations, seduces, gives people an exclusive feeling and invites to everything except an over-critical or (apparently) objective judgment. Once I heard the slogan: “If Sofia Loren is plastic, I love plastic”. There are those who criticize Dom Perignon, but who tastes the wine and is willing to be enchanted by it’s mystical powers, can only be positive.
The summer of 2003 was hot and many wines clumsy and dull, but this Dom Perignon has more to offer than just ripe fruit. Delicate floral accents in the nose with brioche, candied fruit, some citrus zest and mineral accents, alongside sweet spices and something silty, mild flavour, but with the right tension, nervousness and a subtle bitterness, the wine resonates long after and makes you long for the next and next and next glass ….

For sales information:
Alksandr Cuvee, Chardonnay, Moldova – Vinites, Haarlem
From Volxem 1900 Riesling Sekt, Saarland, Germany – Vinites, Haarlem
Triple Zero, Jacky Blot, Chenin, Loire, France – Vinites, Haarlem
Premiere Bulle de Limoux Blanquette de Limoux, 2010 – Bacchantes, Gouda
Valgrès Rive di Combai, Extra dry, Valdobbiandene, Serre – Bubbles by Bruud, Rotterdam
Nini Franco Prosecco Superiore di Valdobiadene Grave di Stecca – Hosman Vins, Schiedam
Cleto Chiarli, Premium, Vecchia Modena-Vinites, Haarlem
Lambrusco di Sorbara, Italy, 2011-Vinites, Haarlem
Otello, Nero di Lambrusco (Maestri), Ceci, Emilia IGT – De Microscoop, Rotterdam
Concerto Lambrusco Reggiano, Medici Ermete – Goessens, Wine Professionals
Cellarius, Berlucchi, Franciacorta Brut, 2007, Italy – None importer in the Netherlands
Grosvenor, Ridgeview Brut, Sussex, Great Britain, – Karakter Wijnimport, Amsterdam
Schramsberg Reserve J. Schram 2004 – Hosman Vins, Schiedam
Philipponnat, Champagne Royale Reserve Brut NV – Vinites, Haarlem
Pol Roger Champagne Blanc de Blancs, 2000, France – Verbunt Wijnkopers, Tilburg
Mailly, Cuvée Les Echansons, Champagne Grand Cru 1999 – Hosman Vins, Schiedam Elisabetta Abrami Franciacorta Rosé, Italy – Bubbles by Bruud, Rotterdam
Billecart-Salmon Rose, Champagne, France – Residence Wines, Roeofarendsveen
Sparkling Genesis Castagna, Beechworth 2008, Australia – Vinites. Haarlem
Serendipity, La Matta, Spumante Integral, Casebianche – No importer in the Netherlands.
Sottoriva Anti Frizz su Lie, Malibran, – Bubbles by Bruud. Rotterdam
Grand Même, Mauzac Nature, Plageoles, Gaillac, France – August Hoon
Cava Gran Reserva Personel Marcel Raventós, Raventós i Blanc – Vinites, Haarlem
Annamaria Clementi, Ca’del Bosco, Franciacorta Werhoven Wijnen. Nieuwegein
Giulio Ferrari, TRENTODOC – Vinites, Haarlem
Poire Granit, Eric Bordelet – De Vier Heemskinderen, Stavoren
Moscato d’Asti, Villa Giada di Andrea Faccio – JJC Kwast Wijnkopers, New Vennep
Dom Perignon Champagne Millisimé, Moët et Chandon – Moët Hennessy Netherlands, Baarn
Bollinger La Grande Année, 1997
Almost everyone gone, the tables almost empty, the empty bottles collected, followed by a moment of peace and quiet, talking about an amazing evening. Lou Borrani knew somwthing to loosen our tongues. He served a wine, a sparkling wine …. We were asked to guess … I recognized the style of Bollinger and thought of a 2002. It was the 1997, still powerful and persuasive, younger than expected. Broad and rich with lots of dried apple, iodine, some creme brulee and lots of fresh notes of citrus, fresh and preserved; much length, filling and potential. Very beautiful.
Importer: Wijn Verlinden ’s Hertogenbosch

Lees meerBubbels deel 4, Alles, overal vandaan… Bubbles part 4, Everything from everywhere…

Bubbels deel 3, TrentoDocBubbles part 3, TrentoDoc

Bollicine su Trento
Italiaanse bubbels zijn er genoeg, maar welke zijn er nu precies? De bubbels uit Asti zijn bekend en Franciacorta heeft een goede naam, maar wie kent TrentoDoc? Tijd voor een nadere kennismaking.

Bubbles part 3
Bollicine su Trento

There are plenty Italian bubbles, but which ones exactly? The bubbles from Asti are well-known and Franciacorta has a good reputation, but who’s ever heard of Trentodoc? Time to get acquainted.

As the name suggests, Trentodoc are wines from Trentino, sparkling ones. Every year, in Trento, the beautiful, historical capital of this region in the North-East of Italy, the new Trentodocs are presented to press and public during Bollicine su Trento. These days everyone has a smile on it’s face, one of the enjoyable side-effects of sparkling wines.

Trentodoc has a certain reputation, even though there are not even 40 producers who bottle their own wine. However, there are hundreds of  farmers and families that own tiny vineyards and sell their grapes to cooperatives such as Mezzacorona, Cavit en La Vis or other companies like Ferrari and the Agricultural Institute San Michele. Specific feature of TrentoDoc is the high altitude of the vineyards that provide the coolness that grapes need to develop strength and complexity. They in fact do that during a growing season that is longer than in Franciacorta’s. The average temperature in Lombardy is 13,7 °C, while aveage in Trentino-Alt Adige is 11,4. Lake Garda and the Dolomites obviously have a cooling effect. Also remarkable is, that Trentino (with Alto Adige) has an annual average of 2120 hours of sunshine, significantly more than the 1914 counted in Lombardy. The vineyards in the 58 villages within the DOC area are mostly planted with Chardonnay, complemented by smaller quantities of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier. The soil varies in composition and contains, depending on the height and position in the valley, more or less limestone, shale, clay, porphyr and schistes. Some vineyards are so steep that only manual maintenance and harvesting is possible. Currently the total production is about 9 million* bottles (included are the 5 million bottles from Ferrari!), but it’s expected to grow to 11 million bottles within a few years. With these numbers TrentoDoc has a market share of around 12% of all sparkling wines in Italy. Almost 20% is exported, mainly to Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and the United States, followed by new export markets such as Brazil, India and China.

*Champagne produces about 350 million bottles, 15% of the world production of sparkling wines. Russia comes in second place, producing 300 million bottles…..

Apples and pears
Although comparison makes little sense, many look at Franciacorta and Champagne when they see, taste or buy a TrentoDoc. That’s why it’s usefull to point out the unique features. First of all, TrentoDoc is different from other sparkling wines because of it’s location. The vineyards in TrentoDoc are situated in the valley of the Adige, over 60% on hills and mountain slopes that are often steep and increasingly located higher up the hills. The latter is a response to climate change. Ferrari currently doesn’t buy any grapes from vineyards lower than 300m. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier are allowed, but chardonnay is dominant in TrentoDoc, supplemented with Pinot Noir. A minimum aging on the lees of 15 moths is required for a regular TrentoDoc, 24 months for a vintage TrentoDoc and 36 months for a Riserva. It’s also required to mention the date of dégorgement on the label, very convenient when you want to buy guaranteed ‘fresh’ bottles.
The unique terroir gives TrentoDoc a lot of freshness and pure aromas. The wines are generally rich in structure and have good complexity with mineral and mediterranean aromas, hints of almonds, pepper, honey, cream and, depending on the type, fresh or dried fruit. For Riserva’s only the style Brut is allowed, but also in the regular cuvees you don’t see a lot of demi-sec or extra-dry.

Ferrari, the original
Without Giulio Ferrari (1879-1965) TrentoDoc would not be what it is today. After his studies in San Michele, Montpelier and Giesenheim, he ended up in Epernay and got aqcuainted with Champagne. He saw similarities between Trentino and Champagne and took several Chardonnay cuttings home, later known as ‘el Borgogna zalt’ or ‘yellow Burgundy’. In 1902 the first 400 bottles of sparkling wine in Trento were a fact. Ferrari has since then become the undisputed number 1 in Trento, not only in quantity, but especially in quality. Years and years of experience gives them a huge advantage over many other producers. They have developed their own, complex yeast culture, while others have to do with the standard products of San Michele, something you can really taste in many wines. When the Lunelli family took over the company in 1952, nothing of Giulio Ferrari’s philosophy was lost. In fact, under the leadership of Bruno Lunelli, and later his sons Gino, Franco and Mauro, the company grew into a national and international acknowledged value in the world of sparkling wines. Currently the company is run by the third generation of the Lunelli family having Matteo as CEO, Marcello as final-responsible winemaker, Allesandro as a member of the management Board and Camilla as head of communications and PR. Who tastes the regular cuvee from Ferrari will not be dissapointed, the quality is excellent and so is the price. However, the vintage sparklers are more interesting. Quality is clearly increasing with the extremely pleasant Perlé series, tasteful Maximum Rosé, beautiful Riserva Lunelli and the unsurpassed Cuvée Giulio Ferrari, a wine with a minimum of 10 years aging on lie and an impressive potential to age to many years. The 1991 for instance, has lost nothing from it’s freshness and is a monumental complex wine, that doesn’t make anyone desire a sparkling wine from any other country or region. And if you find wine alone not enough, their Villa Margon and their nearby and award-winning restaurant Locanda Margon are worth a visit.

The others
Besides the large cooperatives, there are currently about 30 smaller companies that have wine with their own name on the market. In close cooperation with the Consorzio they try to emphasize the unique features of TrentoDoc and sell their wines in as well as outside of Italy. That’s not very easy. A distinctive character is not always clear, prices are uncompetitive, the packaging not very attractive and the quality sometimes less inspiring. Many use the same yeasts and techniques and due to lack of experience they often look/taste similar. A considerable number of wines have little more to offer than good intentions. Some producers got inspired by Ferrari and mature their wines for a very long time (up to 10 years) on lie. When you taste these wines, you know a few years less on the lees wouldn’t hurt the wine. Nobody’s waiting for a wine with dull, tired aromas.

The region is young, has potential, but cries out for knowledge, experience and development. Compared to TrentoDoc, Franciacorta has more to offer at this moment. Fortunately there are also producers of TrentoDoc who understand what it’s all about and are already making very fine wines. During several visits, workshops and a selection tasting with Wijnand Broer and Ruud de Jong of the sparkling wine specialist Bubbles By Bruud in Rotterdam, there were, without a doubt, several wines well worth following. To name a few, I wrote down good marks for The Riserva del Fondatore Mach from the Instituto Agrario di San Michele all’ Adige (highly rated by some colleagues but to me a bit too heavy), various cuvées and vintages of Abate Nero, the Riserva 111 pas dosé from Pedrotti, the Maso Nero Riserva Brut 2006 from Zeni, the Riserva 2007 from the relatively new domain Bellaveder, the Letrari Riserva 2007, the Riserva 2006 and Riserva Extra Brut 2004 by Cesarini and the Riserva 2007 from Endrizzi. I know that some colleagues are very enthousiastic about the Graal Riserva Brut by Altemasi di Cavit, but the 2006, 2003, 2000 as well as the 1998 couldn’t get me very exited.

As far as I’m concerned the wines from Methius surpass all. Methius is the crown jewel of the Dorigati winery, owned by Charles and Henry Dorigati Paternoster. The vineyards for Methius  are located in the hills from Faedo and Pressano at 350 to 500m altitude and are planted with pergola pruned Chardonay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%). A part of the Chardonnay ferments in barriques, the rest in stainless steel. Maturation on lie lasts approximately 5 years, depending on the vintage. The production is only 15,000 bottles of their Riserva. A pity, because to me, Methius is the only wine that equals the extremely high quality of the top line from Ferrari. The Methius 2002, 2005 and 2006 are phenomenal, powerful, complex wines with an enormous potential that requires bottle aging or decanting. Unfortunately not (yet) available in Holland, but there are rumours that that’s about to change. I hope so…..

Lees meerBubbels deel 3, TrentoDocBubbles part 3, TrentoDoc

Bubbels deel 2, Lambrusco!Bubbles part 2, Lambrusco!

Bubbels deel 2.
Lambrusco, de verrassend andere bubbel.

Een koe is een beest, dus een beest is een koe.
God is liefde en liefde is blind. Andrea Bocelli is blind, dus Andrea Bocelli is God…..

Bubbles part 2.
Lambrusco, the surprising, other bubble.

A cow is an animal, so an animal is a cow.
God is love, love is blind, Andrea Bocelli is blind, so Andrea Bocelli is God….

Lees meerBubbels deel 2, Lambrusco!Bubbles part 2, Lambrusco!