Italy has a broad wine pallet, with nearly every category of wine produced somewhere in the diverse country. Fortunately, the country’s sparkling wine tradition gained attention in the last two decades thanks to the easy-drinking delights of inoffensive Prosecco, which garnered attention in the recession of the late 2000s when Champagne looked like a real splurge.
Prosecco may overshadow other sparkling wine traditions of Italy. Italian bubblies hail from the country’s cooler north. Grapes used in sparkling wine don’t require full ripening but do require more prominent acidity, so grapes from cooler regions work better for sparkling wines.
Unrelated to the fancy car, despite past joint marketing, Ferrari stands tall among Italian sparkling wines. About a century ago, Giulio Ferrari brought chardonnay vines (a pillar of French Champagne production) to Alto-Adige with the intention of introducing sparkling wines made using the same techniques as in Champagne, which is called out on the label as “metodo classico.”
Ferrari Non-Vintage Trentodoc Methodo Classico starts with scents of flowers, peach and a touch of pastry. The wine shows a medium texture and flavors of apple and lemon with a touch of honey and an off-dry finish. You can find some gift-box packaged bottles at the Clarks Summit store for $22. ♦♦♦♦ 1/2
The other source of metodo classico wines in Italy, but somewhat harder to find, is Franciacorta. Most sparkling wine produced in Italy undergoes the secondary fermentation in a tank, called the Charmat Method or even the Italian Method. Tank fermentation produces bubbly less expensively, which is why iterations such as Prosecco and Lambrusco can be such a value.
Locally, Lambrusco remains a fixture in some restaurants and event spaces, a legacy of the Riuniti craze of the 1970s. Some may not realize Lambrusco is a region and a style all its own. Lambrusco is a family of grapes but also lends its name to several recognized wine regions in the Emilia-Romagna region.
The red sparkling wine is marked by berry fruitiness and spiciness and can run from dry to sweet. Look for “secco” (dry) or “dulce” (sweet) on the label as an indicator. Lambrusco pairs great with most pizza and charcuterie.
Fiorini Becco Rosso 2016 Lambrusco Grasparossa shows the strength of this subregion known for muscular Lambrusco, offering a sparkling wine that looks and tastes very much like a red wine. You’ll find big berry flavors with tart currant and wild berry plus a rich texture and a tight, acidic finish. $16. ♦♦♦ 1/2
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