by Laura Donadoni, LA Com Wine Agency
Sparkling wines have been made in Trentino for over a century. Visionary winemaker Giulio Ferrari introduced the chardonnay grape and the Metodo Classico method of production that represents the backbone of Trentodoc appellation’s wines. Today the blend of Trentodoc also includes Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier, and Ferrari winery is undoubtedly the first world class ambassador of the wine region. Recently Ferrari was awarded “Producer of the Year” at The 2019 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. Ferrari was also named “Winery of the Year” by Gambero Rosso and a perennial recipient of Tre Bicchieri, one of Italy’s highest wine accolades.
If you like champagne, prepare to be amazed by Ferrari’s Trentodoc wines. Many of these sparkling wines are decidedly crisp, complex, and delicious, and there are a few simple reasons that explain why. Although these vineyards are located at lower latitudes than those in the relatively cooler region of Champagne, France (46 versus 49 degrees latitude), they grow at higher altitudes above sea level ranging from 800 to 2,600 feet (250 to 800 meters). Because higher and cooler altitudes can mimic the effects of higher latitudes in terms of temperature, moving upward hundreds of vertical feet can reflect similar conditions of more northern latitudes.
Another reason for quality relates to the underlying complexity of soils and geology. Millions of years ago, the region was located below ocean waters. When marine organisms with calcium shells died, they fell to the ocean floor resulting in more marine fossils. Over time this accumulation of calcium transformed into layers of limestone sedimentary rock. Below these layers was a frenzy of volcanic activity that spewed magnesium-rich waters upward, enhancing its local geologic complexity.
Finally, local mountain winds mitigate extreme temperatures. Two daily winds blow on the terrain north of Lake Garda, the north-to-south morning Pelèr and the south-to-north afternoon Ora, blowing mostly from March through September. The combination of cool climate, complex soil and mitigating winds allows for sparkling wines to be produced freshly with a bracing acidity.
The grapes used to produce Trentodoc grows in four diverse subregions: the northern Adige Valley, its subsidiary Cembra Valley, the southern Brentonico Plateau, along the valley of lakes, Valle dei Laghi and around the city of Trento. Chardonnay thrives in higher altitudes with sunlight exposures and provides an acidic backbone to the wines. Whereas Pinot Noir thrives in lower altitudes, less sunlight and adds more body to the wines. Most wineries focus primarily on Chardonnay, although a few are like Ferrari and also highlight Pinot Noir.
In 1952, Giulio Ferrari, having no children, sold his winery to Bruno Lunelli. The third generation Lunelli family now own and operate Ferrari winery, a Michelin starred restaurant Locanda Margon and the 16th century Villa Margon, where Emperor Charles V spent time during the Council of Trent. The family is now the most renowned ambassador for Trentodoc wines in the world. Notably, Ferrari is the official sparkling wine of the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, for the fifth year.
“Over a century ago our founder Giulio Ferrari understood the vocation of our land to produce world class sparkling wine and now we are proud that over 50 wineries are a part of the Trentodoc Institute,” said Matteo Lunelli, President of Ferrari Trentodoc. “The wines are produced in a unique climate and soil on the foothills of the Alps. We aim to emphasize our identity, history, tradition, as well as the elegance, finesse and longevity of our sparkling wines. We do not only want to represent our homeland of Trentino, but we also want to be a symbol of Italian lifestyle and be an ambassador of the ‘Italian Art of Living’ on a global scale.”
A special combination of art, history, and culture allows for a sense of fulfillment expressed with obsessive attention to every detail. Like the indefinable yet irresistible “Italian touch,” this is what Lunelli meant by “Italian Art of Living.” Who can resist the Italian touch? Can you?
About Laura Donadoni: Laura Donadoni is an Italian wine journalist and influencer, based in San Diego, where she founded 5 years ago “The Italian Wine Girl” blog and La Com Wine Agency, a strategic P.R. and Communications firm focused on the wine industry. She is columnist for SommJournal and Tasting Panel magazine, a certified Sommelier with merit with the North American Sommelier Association and the World Sommelier Association, a Wset advanced sommelier; she is one of the few Vinitaly International Italian Wine Ambassadors in the world and a certified Wine Educator; she is an Italian and Spanish Wine Specialist; an official wine judge for the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition and many others international wine competitions, a member of the International Circle of Wine Writers and of the Los Angeles Wine Writers Association and the Director of the Wine Education Program at the Pacific National Food and Beverage Museum in L.A.