The term “Trentodoc” on a Champagne-shaped bottle tells you the wine you’re about to drink is a “method champenoise” type bubbly from the Trento region of northeastern Italy, made by basically the same rules as Champagne (the main difference is that Pinot Blanc is also on the list of approved varietals). Trentodoc wines can be white or pink, and have a certain io non so qua from higher-altitude fruit. Along with Franciacortas these are some of the best sparkling wines in the country, and they are wonderful party drinks. Characteristics they tend to have in common include sleek perlage, crystalline minerality and subtle but definitely festive aromatics. They also tend to be a lot less expensive than Champagne, offering a very attractive elegance for folks who appreciate the good stuff and also appreciate it when dinner doesn’t put you in debt.
Five Bottles to Try
Cesarini Sforza Brut ($25)
This is from 100% Chardonnay grapes, but you will notice you’re not drinking a California blanc de blancs. It’s just different. Bright straw-yellow tone and a heady, rather intense nose that tends toward tangerine, neroli and jasmine. Bready or brioche-like on the palate. The finish is long and grippy and very dry but also has something candied going on. A really great aperitif.
Ferrari Brut ($23)
“Delicate” is the operative word here. Greenish in the glass, this wine is basically what you’d get if you stuck an alpine meadow into a bottle and made it effervescent. Yellow apple notes interlace with wildflowers (elderflower, fennel blossom and chamomile for me). A slightly yeasty palate with more apple, a little citrus and a little crushed granite. Finesse for days. If you’re in the fortunate position of not being sure what to pour with a pile of oysters, I would prompt you to grab a bottle of this.
Ferrari Perle Nero 2007 ($90)
If you have it to spare and you want to put it into what you’re drinking, I have to give the thumbs up to this more aged, higher-tier wine from Ferrari as well. Sparkling wine is perfectly lovely young, but man, it ages like a boss. Ten years have put this one firmly into the “liquid gold” category, with a rich, concentrated hue and a perfumed nose (caramel apple, wet stone, white nectarine, and pastry notes). The 100% Pinot Nero wine is lithe and elegant, with complex layers including a lot of buttered-bread, graham cracker and marzipan notes. There’s a pronounced nuttiness to it (almond and hazelnut) and a long, lingering, emphatic finish with a trace of gingerbread. It’s aged but not “old,” and has a vibrant acidity and excellent structure.
Monfort Brut Rosé ($25)
Arguably the “party animal” of this bunch, Monfort Brut is on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Ferrari Brut, and will bring to mind words like “edgy,” “assertive,” and “intense.” In a human, those words are often backhanded-compliment descriptors (as in, “Yeah, she’s nice, but… you know. A little intense”) but that is decidedly not the case here. There’s an adorably leap-out-of-the-glass exuberance here, with tangy citrus and alpine strawberry notes on the nose, the palate favors strawberry and raspberry and pastry crust, with a stony undertone and a streak of salinity. Effusive perlage. This wine has a ton of personality and you can expect it to disappear quickly.
Rotari Brut 2013 ($20)
Rotari is a great grab for low impact to your wallet and high impact to your gathering. Both white and pink sparklers are expressive, gracious, delightfully versatile wines. This one is a pale yellow in color, with fine beading effervescence and a more tropical palate than many of the wines on this list (there is a pretty pronounced pineapple note, and a bit of vanilla). Lemon curd, bread crust, tart apple and orange blossom are also present. It’s not as ghostly as the Ferrari and not as fleshly as the Monfort-it’s dead center. A fantastic food wine and one to consider if you are dealing with a potluck, mixed appetizers or any other food situation in need of a “wide net” wine. This stuff kind of goes with everything. Including nothing! I had it a la carte and didn’t feel like one single thing was missing.