On Tuesday May 15 I looked forward to a wine tasting class on “The Great Sparklings of Italy: A Unique Tour from North to South” that promised we would “Discover the amazing variety of grapes… that make the Italian sparkling wines unique…”
A pretty impressive panel of experts was on hand, that included sommeliers, winemakers, and restaurateurs, to answer questions (sometimes in Italian!) and lead us through the tasting.
For my wine 101 readers, and of utmost importance to the panel, is that most people think of Prosecco alone when they think of an Italian sparkling wine. Prosecco is the grape the sparkling wine is made from; but it’s the methods, like Champenois to make Champagne, and the grapes, like Pinot Noir or Sangiovese, that makes the wines’ “bouquet”.
However, at least most people have moved from ordering a Champagne from a California winery; only wine made in Champagne, France, has that legal right. And with that, we have learned to order Prosecco when we want an Italian sparkling.
Over the years each region in Italy has changed over to making wines from regional grapes.
In today’s event we were to taste wines made from the Prosecco grape but also the Nebbiolo grape, the Pinot Nero grape (In the U.S. this is the Pinot Noir grape), the Sangiovese grape and others.
Other things we learned was that some wineries will try things like aging wines in chestnut or cherry wood casks, but, as winemaker Carlo Ferrini said, they only experiment with 1 percent of the wine.
Before your virtual taste begins, a couple more things: The DOC and DOCG acronyms refer to the quality of the product from a designated area, with DOCG carrying the most weight. The winemaking style of each sparkling wine is noted in parenthesis: Charmat was invented in Italy and is the most widely used, Champenois I mentioned before as the Champagne method, and Frizzante, which one of our Italian panelists said just means “fizzy.”
Balan, Prosecco DOCG, Extra Dry (Charmat)
Very clear in color followed by aromas of lime, white peach, honeydew and butter cookie. The taste was crisp green apples and golden juicy peaches. 90 Eve pts.
Bellussi, Prosecco DOC Extra Dry (Charmat)
Slightly golden with a darker edge when compared to the color of the Balan, and a nose of honeydew, candied pear, juicy pineapple. Lemon-lime, pear and white peach on the mouth. 92 Eve pts.
Primosic, Ribolla Gialla Friuli (Charmat)
Clear with a pale blond edge in the glass, a nose of crisp green caramel apple and white peach, and a mouth full of biscuit, toast, pale fruit and creamy cheese. 88 Eve pts.
Castel Dan Giorgio, Pinot Nero Oltrepo DOC Brut (Charmat)
Clear in color and stretching out to a hay-colored edge, followed by perfumy aromas of honeysuckle and cantaloupe. The taste, a little higher than the others on acidity, had a long-lasting pink grapefruit feel. 92-95 Eve pts. My favorite of the line up.
Domodimonti Sangiovese Brut (Charmat)
Clear in color with just a ribbon of green on the edge, this sparkler had aromas similar to a Chardonnay, as well as some oak and stinky cheese. The taste was high in acidity, oak, baked apple that made me think there was some age on it, and a medium finish. 87 Eve pts.
Cescon Blauwal Trento DOC Brut (Champenois)
Pale yellow in color followed by yeasty aromas as well as biscuit, Brie cheese and wet stones. The taste included the same biscuit and toast but gave way to orange, lime and a lingering acidity on the finish. 90 Eve pts.
Ca’ Del Bosco, Cuvee Prestige Franciacorta DOCG (Champenois)
A color of pale hay and then aromas of a fruit cocktail: pear, peach, pineapple and cherry. The taste was all red delicious apples in an ambrosia salad. 88 Eve pts.
Murgo, Nerello Mascalese Etna DOC Brut (Champenois)
Clear and pale in color with aromas of strong stinky cheese, green grass, lime and wheat toast. The taste gave way to lemon, biscuit and the palest hint of honey. 87 Eve pts.
Vajra, Nebbiolo/Pinot Nero Brut Rose (Champenois)
From across the room I nailed the color as it was poured: peach sherbet with an orange brandy-colored edge. My nose was filled with sharp cheese, sweet pickles and a tiny sliver of butter. On the mouth the sharp cheese returned softened only by dried rose petals. 87 Eve pts.
Castello Di Luzzano, Bonarda Oltrepo DOC (Frizzante)
About Viva Vino
VIVA VINO LA is the largest Italian wine event staged on the West Coast. From seminars to tastings to dinners, VIVA VINO LA offers an exceptional array of events for consumers and trade to experience Italian wines made with native grapes.
VIVA VINO LA provides the opportunity for the wineries that produce these wines to meet importers, buyers, retailers, press and consumers from throughout Los Angeles and Southern California, one of the largest wine markets in the United States.
There are over 3,000 wine grape varietals that grow in Italy; VIVA VINO LA gives these native vines visibility and educates the trade and consumers about their styles and the terroirs.
Partnering with a carefully selected group of restaurants and retailers that represent the best of Italian culture in the Los Angeles area, VIVA VINO LA offers a variety of events to throughout the city to engage and entertain.
For more information, visit www.vivavinola.com.