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Superb Sparklers from Northern Italy's TrentoDoc
By Jessica Dupuy
Jun 6, 2024
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Nestled against the stunning backdrop of the Dolomite mountains lies TrentoDoc, a picturesque wine region in northern Italy’s Trentino region  that has been producing exceptional sparkling wines for over a century.  The history of TrentoDoc dates back to the early 1900s when pioneering winemakers like Giulio Ferrari, whose brand Ferrari Trentino you may recognize as the official sparkling wine of Formula 1 racing, recognized the potential of the region's unique terroir and high-elevation vineyards to create world-class sparkling wines using the traditional method, similar to that of Champagne.

What sets TrentoDoc apart from other sparkling wine regions is its alpine character, influenced by the dramatic landscape and cool mountain air.  The high-altitude vineyards, situated between 200 and 800 meters above sea level, experience significant diurnal temperature variations, allowing the grapes to ripen slowly while preserving their natural acidity.  This results in sparkling wines that are crisp, elegant, and refreshing, with a distinct mineral edge that reflects the rocky, limestone-rich soils of the Dolomites.

The TrentoDoc appellation, officially recognized in 1993, encompasses approximately 10,230 hectares of vineyards and is represented by 67 producers.  As an aside, the appellation’s name is contrived by combining a reference to the region with the abbreviation for the regulatory authority, which is Denominazione di origine controllata.  Sometimes you'll see it spelled out as TrentoDOC, whereas it may also be rendered as Trentodoc, but I’ve taken the middle course with TrentoDoc.

The diversity of geographic features affecting the quality of the wines include the lake effects from Lake Garda, the cold alpine air of the Dolomites, and the distinctive soils found across the area.  The region is divided into several sub-zones, each with its own unique microclimate and terroir.  The Vallagarina sub-zone, for example, is known for its warmer temperatures and fuller-bodied wines, while the Valle dei Laghi sub-zone, situated at higher elevations, produces more delicate and refined sparklers.

TrentoDoc's commitment to quality and tradition is evident in the strict regulations that govern the production of its sparkling wines.  Like Champagne, TrentoDoc sparklers must be made using the traditional method, with secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle.  The wines must also age on the lees for a minimum of 15 months for non-vintage and 24 months for vintage expressions, ensuring a level of complexity and depth that rivals the finest sparkling wines in the world.  However, many producers in the region choose to age their wines even longer, with some expressions spending up to 10 years on the lees, revealing even greater complexity and nuance in the final product.

As consumers continue to discover the alpine allure of TrentoDoc, the region is poised for even greater success in the years to come.  With its stunning natural beauty, rich history, and unwavering dedication to quality, TrentoDoc is a true gem in the world of sparkling wine, offering a unique and unforgettable taste of the Italian Alps in every bottle.

Just as Champagne has made efforts to achieve and protect its identity, TrentoDoc has followed suit with a unique quality control system backed by a three-year research project to establish the traceability and territorial bond of the region’s wines as genuine sparkling wines from the mountains.

At a recent regional tasting and seminar in Austin hosted by TrentoDoc, I had the chance to sample nearly a dozen examples of this unique region.  Below are some of my favorites:

Revì Dosaggio Zero Milesimato 2020:  This youthful sparkling wine is a blend of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Nero, aged for 42 months on lees in stainless steel.  The result is a crisp wine with aromas of fresh apple and citrus, and a light kiss of brioche.  The palate is invigorated by a vibrant acidity and a creamy texture, leading to a lingering, mineral-driven finish.  This TrentoDoc sparkler is an exquisite testament to the art of zero dosage winemaking.  93

Cantine D’Isera 907 Extra Brut Riserva 2018:  A true Blanc de Blancs made from 100% Chardonnay, this wine is aged in stainless steel with 20% barrel age for 6 months before resting on the lees for 50 months.  Cantina D’Isera has long been known for their meticulous vineyard management and innovative winemaking techniques.  This wine offers aromas of toasted almond, lemon curd, and subtle vanilla.  A lovely minerality pervades on the palate.  94

Cantine Ferrari Perlé 2017:  A pinnacle wine for the historic Canine Ferrari, this Blanc de Blancs shows a beautiful pedigree.  Made from 100% Chardonnay, it is aged in stainless steel and rests on the lees for 50 months.  This wine radiates elegance with aromas of ripe orchard fruits, toasted hazelnuts, and a touch of honeycomb.  On the palate, it combines vibrant acidity with a silky texture, leading to a long, refined finish that echoes its meticulous craftsmanship.  95

Monfort Brut Rosé NV:  An excellent example of sparkling Alpine rose, this 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offers a depth of fruit complexity.  Renowned for their dedication to expressing the unique terroir of TrentoDoc, Monfort has released this wine as a versatile piece of their portfolio.  Aged in stainless steel and on the lees for 30 months, this wine is excellent for food pairing with notes of fresh mountain strawberry and rosy florality balanced by a youthful, yeasty undertone.  94