Fred Nijhuis

Your favorite Dutch wine writer

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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!





Laffe aanslag in Montalcino op Soldera en Brunello.
Wijn-terrorisme, een nieuw triest dieptepunten in menselijk gedrag? 

Tussen 2 en 3 december is er ingebroken bij Gianfranco Soldera (75)
in Montalcino. In de kelder van zijn wijndomein Case Basse hebben (vooralsnog) onbekenden alle vaten geopend en de gehele productie van 6 jaren Brunello di Montalcino verwoest




Vijf jaar emotie, werk, passie, cultuur, kennis en geld verdween zinloos in het riool en zal nimmer het palet van duizenden liefhebbers beroeren en ontroeren. De daad lijkt onzinnig, wekt weerzin en doet iedereen zich realiseren hoe triest menselijk gedrag kan zijn.

Over de reden wordt volop gespeculeerd. Gianfranco Soldera is een man met een duidelijke overtuiging, een geheel eigen mening en vooral zonder compromissen. Hij schoffeert velen, wekt wrevel met zijn uitspraken en kent vele tegenstanders. Zijn mening over collega’s, journalisten is hard en direct; ben je niet voor hem, dan ben je tegen hem. Zij die de ziel van Brunello aan commerciële duivels willen verkopen, worden door hem veracht en aan de schandpaal genageld. Zijn visie en gedrag zijn omstreden en kent vele tegenstanders.

Gianfranco Soldera is echter ook iemand die juist om die visie, dat gedrag en vooral zijn wijnen wordt gerespecteerd, gevolgd en vertrouwd. Hij is een van de weinige echte die de ziel van Brunello kent, respecteert en koste wat kost beschermt.

Gianfranco Soldera is een van de, inmiddels zeldzame  echte traditionalisten in Montalcino en zijn Brunello is het toonbeeld van karakter, authenticiteit, kwaliteit. Zijn wijnen zijn het overtuigende bewijs dat een Brunello di Montalcino vijf jaar in traditioneel hout opgevoed kan (moet?) worden en geen barriques en/of andere druivensoorten nodig heeft.

De inbraak en vernietiging van alle jaargangen van 2007 t/m 2012, gaat ook daarom verder dan vandalisme. Het is een aanslag op de ziel van Montalcino, een aanslag op alle producenten in Montalcino, op vrije meningsuiting, de vrijheid van de mens en eigenlijk het bestaan van de mens . De daad lijkt niet gebaseerd op geldelijk gewin. Er is niks gestolen; geen fles, geen apparatuur. Wat de aanleiding precies is, blijft vooralsnog een raadsel.  
De 626 hectoliter Brunello vertegenwoordigt een klein kapitaal, maar het verlies is niet in geld uit te drukken, zoals er evenmin een prijskaartje aan de Nachtwacht van Rembrandt gehangen kan worden. De Brunello’s van Soldera zijn geen wetenschappelijke, industriële producten, maar zijn te vergelijken met kunst, cultuur die alleen maar tot stand kunnen komen door extreme passie en een sterke persoonlijkheid. Niet door een ieder begrepen of gewaardeerd, maar een deel van de zin van het begrip Brunello di Montalcino.

Het verlies van zes jaargangen van zijn Brunello is een tragedie voor heel Montalcino; voor zijn vrienden en zijn vijanden, ook al zullen de laatste dit niet begrijpen of willen toegeven.

De familie Soldera heeft laten weten zich niet te laten intimideren door deze laffe daad die aan trieste praktijken van de maffia en/of andere geestelijk gestoorden doet denken. Steun en een voortdurend respect is nodig om ze te helpen dit verlies te boven te komen en de toekomst van Case Basse, Montalcino en alle liefhebbers van échte Brunello te beschermen en zoveel mooier te maken.

Talloze steunbetuigingen hebben de familie Soldera bereikt, veel officiele, zoals die van het Consorzio en de burgemeester van Montalcino, maar nog veel meer hartverwarmende persoonlijke.

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