Thursday, May 11, 2017

It sparkles. It bubbles. Is it Champagne, Cava, Asti Spumante, Prosecco, Sekt?

Exploring the effervescent world of sparkling wine tourism.

It sparkles. It bubbles. Is it Champagne, Cava, Asti Spumante, Prosecco, Sekt?
How do you know what is in your glass if it has bubbles?
Determine where the grapes are grown and how they are fermented
1.  If they are from the Champagne region of France and are Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Pinot Meunier – it is likely that you have Champagne in your glass (and the bubbles are small and gentle).
2. If the grapes were grown in the Piedmont region of Italy and the wine sparkles in your glass, it is likely to be Asti Spumante. Classified in 1993 as the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), as of 2004, it is the largest producing appellation in Italy. More than ten times as much Asti is produced in Piedmont than Barolo (a well-known Piedmontese red wine).
3. If the grapes were grown and harvested near Trieste, Italy and the wine was produced using the Charmat-Martinotti Method (secondary fermentation in stainless steel tanks) it is likely that it received the DOCG (Prosecco Valdobbiadene) designation and you are drinking Prosecco. The rules also permit the use of Methodo Classico (secondary fermentation in the bottle). Grape varieties include Glera (up to 15 percent of total), as well as Verisco, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera Lunga, Chardonnay, Pino Biano, Pinot Regirgio and Pinot Nero.
4. If the grapes are Macabeo, Parellada or Xarel-lo, and they are grown/harvested in Catalonia, Spain, and the wine is made using the same method as Champagne, it is likely to be Cava.
5. Espumante is the Portuguese version of sparkling wine and made in the Champagne style. It is produced only in DOC Bairrado, south of Vinho Verde. It must be stamped with the VEQPRD (Vinho Espumante de Qualidade Produzido em Regiao Determinada) certification.
6. Sekt is the German/Austrian version of sparkling wine made from Riesling, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc grapes in the Champagne (Charmat) method.
Asti Spumante Suggestions. Recently Curated
At a recent New York City event, wines from the Cembra Valley (near Trento) a selection of regional wines were introduced.
1. The tradition started in the 1950s by Ignazio Moser who cultivated a few rows of white grapevines. In the 1970s, with assistance from his sons, Francesco and Diego, the first bottle of Trentodoc was introduced. This wine is perfect as an aperitif and pairs well with international cuisine. Today, Francesco is also a legendary Italian cyclist.
• Moser 51.151 (Brut). Named in honor of Francesco’s 1984 Hour Record when he smashed the previous world record.
• Metodo Classico supmant. Trento DOC Bianco. Chardonnay and Pinto Nero grapes, farmed and harvested by hand. The vineyards are located near Maso Villa Warth overlooking the Adige Valley and Trento. The wine is made by soft-pressing whole bunches of grapes. Fermentation and ageing takes place in stainless steel tanks and oak casks. The wine is bottled and undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. Bottle ageing on its lees for at least 30 months until degorgement phase.
• To the eye, fine perlage, straw-yellow color, directing a fresh and fragrant note to the nose. Dry and fresh on the palate with a long-lasting finish.
• Moser Rose (Extra Brut). Trento DOC Rose. Pinot Noir grapes, farmed and harvested by hand, sourced in the vineyards of the family estate in Maso Villa Warth, overlooking the Adige Valley and the town of Trento. Soft pressing of whole bunches of grapes with first fermentation and ageing in stainless steel tanks and then bottled for secondary fermentation. Bottle ages on its lees for at least 40 months until the degorgement stage.
• Light pink trending to coral to the eye (think coral reefs in Fiji and the Caribbean). To the nose – fresh fruits of apples, cherries and perfectly ripened strawberries leading to a slight hint of sweetness that is enchanting but not off-putting. The palate is fresh and lively. Pair with crayfish.
2. Altemasi offers sparkling wines from Trentino that are made using the Classic Method approach with bottle fermentation. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes create cuvees that are world renown thanks to the position of the hillside vineyards that reach altitudes of over 600m above sea level.
• Altemasi Trentodoc Riserva Graal 2008.

• Grape variety: Chardonnay – 70 percent; Pinot Noir – 30 percent. Produced in the highest and most suited vineyard in Trento and the Valle dei Laghi. Aged on the lees – over 60 months.
• To the eye, almost clear trending to sunlight yellow with a tilt to light green. Very light and persistent perlage. The nose detects notes of pressed flowers, dried apricots, honey, ripe apples, and hazelnut. To the palate – vigor, great freshness, acidity that is well-balanced (a hint of citrus zest); offers remarkable length and pleasant memories. Serve as an aperitif or with smoked salmon and dill.
• Altemasi Millesimato Trentodoc 2010. Chardonnay – 100 percent. Grapes selected from the highest and most suited vineyards in Trentino (Valle dei Laghi and hills around Trento). Fining on the lees 36-48 months.
• Sunlight yellow to the eye, persistent foam with minute fine grain perlage with hints of honeysuckle, and ripe yellow apples to the nose. Dry and crisp on the palate that leaves a memory of well-balanced structure. Enjoy as an aperitif or with deep fried king prawns or veal escalopes alla livernese (tomato and herbs).
3. Ferrari. The company brochure claims, “It isn’t easy being a legend…and to go on being one, vintage after vintage, for over a century. To do so calls for passion, care and respect for tradition…” “As Italy’s most prestigious sparkling wine maker, Ferrari expresses itself in an anthology of products of matchless finesse.”
• Ferrari Brut. Chardonnay – 100 percent. Hand-picked at the beginning of September among the many communes of the Province of Trento in the Val d’Adige, Val di Cembra and Valle dei Laghi (985-2300 ft.) above sea level with south easterly or south westerly exposure. Maturation – for several years on selected yeasts from Ferrari’s own cultures.
• To the eye – straw yellow to pale green. To the nose fresh without being aggressive leading to a fruit note of ripe yellow apples, citrus and wild flowers and a hint of yeast. To the palate it is clean and very well behaved that suggests ripe fruit and crusty bread with a finish that (fortunately) lingers. Pair with sashimi.
• Ferrari Rose. Made in the classic Method for sparkling wine from a blend of Pinot Nero (vinified as a rose) – 60 percent, and Chardonnay – 40 percent. Harvested by hand in mid-September. Grapes selected from hillside around Trento (985-1970 ft.) above sea level with south easterly or south westerly exposure. Sevela years of maturation on selected yeasts from Ferrari’s own cultures.
• The color of fresh salmon to the eye, elegant to the nose with flower blossoms and hints of red currants and berries. Dry, clean and refined to the palate with a suggestion of sweet almonds and aromatic musk. Long dry finish. Pair with mushroom quiche or fried calamari.

BELSTAR Prosecco di Valdobbiadene "D.O.C." N.V. - ITALY

100% Prosecco
This may be the perfect aperitif sparkling wine.  Made from the late ripening Prosecco grape and grown in the best region, it is redolent with enticing fruit and floral aromas. Light and elegant with a very fine bead, the wine is refreshing, pure and scintillating. Considered to be among the best of the Italian Prosecco producers, Bisol has a remarkable range of wines and this may be their best value. The clean fruit flavors and the tell-tale nuance of almonds on the refeshing finish make this a new favorite.
BISOLTrentino, Italy
The first traces of Bisol family in the heart of the Prosecco D.O.C area date to the 16th century and are contained in a census carried out for fiscal reasons by the aristocratic Venetian family Da Pola, who were landowners of the leading the very prestigious Cartizze hill.
The Bisol family initially oriented toward the production of grapes, added enological activities to viticulture when Eliseo, born in 1855, took charge. He was the first to vinify his own grapes and, once the capacity of the winery had been expanded, he began selling his wines on a limited scale (1875) outside the Valdobbiadene, an operation in which he used small barrels.
World War I interrupted that small but flourishing business. At that time, the border of the Austro-Hungarian Empire passed through the zone and in the fighting neither structures nor people were spared.

In that scenario, winemaking was neglected in favour of efforts to meet more pressing requirements. In addition, the vineyards suffered severe damage.
Eliseo Bisol died in 1923, leaving what remained to his son Desiderio who, in the thirties, began to plant new vineyards and reorganize the estate. He assigned a specific sector to each of his four sons. Antonio studied accounting and Eliseo, enology, while Aurelio tended to the vines and Claudio served as the house's general manager.

THE PRESENT - The best quality Prosecco is obtained through the direct management of all phases of the production

The Bisol winery is still a family run business and is managed by Antonio and Eliseo together with their sons: Gianluca and Desiderio, Claudio and Alberto.
Bisol Prosecco is considered one of the best, and what is important here is to understand what makes the difference.
First of all, Bisol has the all-important vineyard holdings that allow the company to choose how the grapes are grown and to select the best. In an industry where the average vineyard holding is tiny (around 1 hectare) and the larger producers are forced to buy in most of their grapes, the Bisol family are fortunate to own no fewer than 50 hectares of DOC vineyards, including three of the 106 hectares in the Cartizze zone, the highest vineyards in the region, where land is reputedly worth $1 million a hectare, were anyone willing to sell it.
Crucially, these vineyards also are in the prestigious DOC Conegliano-Valdobbiadene hillside vineyard corridor between the two eponymous towns that form the DOC limits. The DOC area is located in a very strategic position: just 1 hour by car from Venice, and at the same distance far from the Pearl of the Dolomites: Cortina D'Ampezzo.
Secondly, the Bisol estate chose the path of quality early on and have spent the last 30 years refining the process of producing Prosecco in the light of both technological and vineyard management progress. Bisol is one of the very few houses that integrate the entire production process, ensuring quality in every phase, from the selection of the terrain, to growing and hand picking the grapes in vineyards on steep slopes, to the bottling of the wine.
To enhance quality, Bisol produce grapes at around 90 quintals per hectare, a much lower ratio than official DOC regulations permit, and carry out a green harvesting of excess grape bunches every July. In particular vintages yield is further reduced to give fewer clusters even higher quality.
Each vineyard has been assessed for its potential and works its particular magic. Each hill, with different soils and expositions, yields grapes with different characteristics. 
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