Let's embark on a journey into the world of sparkling wines: we are about to unveil the top choices for those entering the wine world in 2023. This article will guide you through the diverse landscape of Italian sparkling wines, from the renowned charm of Franciacorta to the hidden treasures of Trento DOC. Discover the sparkling wines to get acquainted with, understand the Italian effervescence, and learn why these selections stand out in the wide array of Italian sparkling wines. Explore the world of Italian sparkling wines with the 5 best selections for beginners, available at your fingertips.
Here are the 5 best Italian white wines for beginners to buy online in 2023
- Trento DOC Monfort Cuvée '85 | Casata Monfort
- Blanc de Blanc Brut | Ca Rovere
- Franciacorta DOCG Brut Rosè | La Valle
- Domnus Abbas Extra Brut | Abbazia di Praglia
- Brut | D'Arapri
Here‘s the criteria that we used for the selection: acidity, method, Perlage (bubbles)
criterium 1: Acidity
Acidity is a crucial factor in sparkling wines, contributing to their refreshing and crisp character. It provides balance to the sweetness and helps in preserving the wine's vibrancy. Beginners should consider the level of acidity to understand their preference in terms of freshness and to find the style of sparkling wine that suits their taste the most.
criterium 2: Method
The production method plays a crucial role in defining the style and quality of sparkling wines. The traditional method, as seen in Champagne, involves a secondary fermentation in the bottle, providing insight into the wine's complexity and effervescence. This gives life to the most refined sparklings. Additionally, there are other methods like Charmat (also called Martinotti), which entail a secondary fermentation in tanks, and Ancestral methods, where the wine undergoes a single fermentation in the bottle. Understanding these methods is key for beginners exploring the world of sparkling wines.
criterium 3: Perlage (bubbles)
The size and persistence of bubbles in sparkling wine contribute to its texture and overall drinking experience. Finer and persistent (prolonged) bubbles are often associated with higher quality. Beginners should pay attention to the effervescence, as it influences the mouthfeel and general perception of the wine.
Best Italian Sparkling Wine #1: Trento DOC Monfort Cuvée '85 | Casata Monfort
The wine imposes for a marked freshness, characterized by a vibrant acidity that contributes to its overall finesse and balance. The acidity is harmoniously integrated, enhancing the wine's crisp and lively character, leaving you eager for the next sip.
Crafted using the Metodo Classico, the traditional method, this Trento DOC sparkling wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The meticulous production process then involves a 24-month aging on lees, contributing to the refined elegance and complexity of the Trento DOC Monfort Cuvée '85.
The Trento DOC by Casata Monfort presents a fine and persistent perlage, creating a visually appealing effervescence. The tiny bubbles enhance the overall sensory experience, providing a delightful and effervescent quality.
Territory: Trentino Alto Adige
The Trento DOC region, nestled in Trentino Alto Adige, is renowned for its elegant sparkling wines that express a unique sense of terroir. The success of Trento DOC sparkling wines is attributed to the region's diverse climatic conditions, varying altitudes, and different terrains. The Trentino territory, though small, boasts 10,000 hectares of vineyards, with 8% dedicated to sparkling wine production, resulting in an annual production of 7 million bottles of very high quality. The microclimates, ranging from mountainous to the milder climate of Lake Garda, play a crucial role in grape maturation and influence the organoleptic characteristics of the wines. Chardonnay and Pinot Nero are the predominant grape varieties for Trento DOC sparkling wines, mirroring the tradition of Champagne regions, and an increasing area is dedicated to organic viticulture.
Winery - Cantine Monfort:
The history of Cantine Monfort traces back to 1945 in Valle di Cembra. Over the decades, the winery has acquired more vineyards and honed its savoir-faire, culminating in today's true gem. The dedication to showcasing the territory and unlocking its full potential is evident in each sip of their wines. The winery is committed to respecting traditions and pursuing quality, with a focus on valorizing indigenous grape varieties, including lesser-known ones like San Lorenzo, Wanderbara, Veltliner, and Vernaza.
Why it's Special:
Monfort Cuvée ’85 Trento DOC is a super enjoyable and versatile sparkling wine that captivates with its freshness, fine perlage, and overall finesse. Crafted using the Metodo Classico, the wine's elegance is a result of careful grape selection and a 2-years lees aging. Its fragrance, freshness, and refinement make it an ideal companion for various occasions, from festive celebrations to pairing with seafood dishes. The wine encapsulates the essence of Trento DOC, where a commitment to tradition and quality meets the unique terroir of the region: a style of sparkling wine that every winelover should know.
Best Italian Sparkling Wine #2: Blanc de Blanc Brut | Ca Rovere
This Ca’ Rovere Brut is a fresh and extremely elegant wine; it displays a vibrant acidity derived from the grape quality and the characteristics of the soils, which once were under the sea. All of this contributes to its freshness and sharpness on the palate. The acidity is well-balanced, providing an overall harmonious and pleasant sensation.
Crafted using the Metodo Classico, or traditional method, this sparkling wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle and matures on the lees for 60 months. This meticulous process results in refined effervescence and absolute complexity.
The Blanc de Blanc exhibits a chain of fine and very persistent bubbles, creating effervescence that captivates both the eyes and the palate. The small bubbles enhance the wine's texture and contribute to a unique and refined sensory experience.
The vineyards of the Ca Rovere winery are situated in the southern part of the Colli Berici, in Veneto, benefiting from optimal exposure and very favorable temperature variations. The soil is quite distinctive, characterized by limestone rock, red clayey soils, and volcanic basalt, creating an ideal environment for viticulture. The region has a rich history of grape cultivation, with varieties such as Tai, Carmenère, Garganega, and Chardonnay thriving.
Located in the village of Alonte, Vicenza, the Ca Rovere winery cultivates a vineyard that spans 30 hectares at an altitude of approximately 150 meters above sea level. The vineyards enjoy a warm and dry microclimate, imparting intense minerality and significant quality to the grapes. The winemaking tradition of the estate dates back to grandparents Bruno and Giuditta, who planted the first vines in the rocky terrain. The family's passion for winemaking specializes particularly in Metodo Classico sparkling wines from Chardonnay and Garganega: they are the first in the region. The winemaking process involves meticulous grape selection and a chemical-free approach. The cellars, carved into the rock, house the bottles for a second fermentation and lees aging, ranging from 36 to 70 months and beyond.
Why it's Special:
The Blanc de Blanc Brut stands out for its vibrant acidity and the quality of its perlage. Its uniqueness begins in the limestone-rich soils of the Colli Berici, where Chardonnay grapes are carefully cultivated. Aged on the lees for 60 months, the technique imparts complexity and depth. The resulting wine enchants with a crystal-clear appearance, intense aromas of citrus, apricot, and acacia flowers, and a palate that balances creaminess with a fresh and savory finish. A small masterpiece representing the best of the Colli Berici wine heritage.
Best Italian Red Wine #3: Franciacorta DOCG Brut Rosè | La Valle
The wine captivates with its extraordinary freshness, which is perceptible in the mouth and makes the drinking experience highly enjoyable.
Crafted using the Metodo Classico as stipulated by the strict regulations, this Franciacorta DOCG undergoes a meticulous process: very slow and gentle pressing of whole clusters, short maceration of the skins with submerged cap. Fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures with indigenous yeasts. Second fermentation in the bottle. Aging for 30 months on the lees and an additional 6 months in the bottle. A sparkling wine of exceptional elegance and complexity.
The wine presents a delicate and persistent perlage: as soon as it's poured, the glass is adorned with a chain of fine and continuous bubbles. The tasting experience is characterized by undeniable quality.
La Valle is located in Franciacorta, the region that produces some of Italy's most significant sparkling wines, stretching from the southern shores of Lake Iseo to the city of Brescia. The landscape features hills dotted with vineyards, small stone villages, crenellated towers, castles, both renowned and lesser-known wineries, ancient palaces, and tranquil monasteries. In terms of soils, the region is enriched by debris transported by the expansion and retreat of glaciers, making them diverse and mineral-rich. Franciacorta is the flagship wine of the region: an exceptionally elegant and structured sparkling wine produced using the Metodo Classico, adhering to strict regulations that guarantee its quality. Different dosage levels, from Pas Dosè to Demi Sec, characterize its various expressions. The region's most important grape varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Nero, with the relatively recent inclusion of the indigenous grape Erbamat.
Why it's Special:
The Franciacorta DOCG from La Valle stands out for its refinement and elegance, achieved through careful grape selection, gentle pressing, and a prolonged aging process of 30 months on the lees. Its delicate pink onion color, along with subtle notes of wild roses and red berries on the nose, expresses its full elegance. The palate experience is characterized by refined freshness, subtle fruity notes, and a dry and elegant finish. A versatile wine at the table, from a niche winery, definitely worth trying.
La Valle, located in Rodengo Saiano in the heart of Franciacorta near Lake Iseo, takes its name from the eponymous main estate acquired in 1890. Historic vineyards, including "La Valle," "Roccolo," "Bredina," and "Tesa," benefit from exceptional exposure and a unique microclimate, producing special grapes from noble varieties - Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Nero. The Pezzola family manages the estate, with a tradition dating back to 1993 when they released their first 3,000 bottles of vintage wine. The vineyards cover six hectares, ensuring a small but meticulous and elaborate production. La Valle's success lies in the harmonious combination of a respectful approach to natural dynamics in the vineyard and cutting-edge technologies in the cellar. The winery has become a recognized and established name in quality and niche Franciacorta, combining a love for the land, meticulous viticulture, and the expertise of renowned wine producers.
Best Italian Red Wine #4: Domnus Abbas | Abbazia di Praglia
This wine, produced with Metodo Classico from Chardonnay, Garganega, and Raboso Piave, exhibits excellent freshness, with acidity contributing to its overall balance, harmonizing the smoothness. Drinking it is an extraordinary experience, rich in aromas, freshness, and complex flavors.
Crafted using the traditional Metodo Classico, the sparkling wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle. Domnus Abbas from the monks of the Abbey of Praglia is the result of a meticulous process, including 36 months of lees aging, carried out in the oldest part of the ancient monastery. The result is a limited production of only 3000 bottles per year, each reflecting the monks' commitment to quality.
The wine presents a fine perlage. The delicate bubbles make the overall sensory experience memorable, offering a refined and elegant sensation.
At the foothills of the Colli Euganei in Veneto, the Abbey of Praglia benefits from a very special terroir, consisting of volcanic soils, winds from the hills, excellent exposures, and centuries-old knowledge. The presence of mountain ranges and vast plains leads to significant temperature variations between summer and winter, moderated by proximity to the sea. Veneto is one of Italy's major wine regions and boasts an abundance of indigenous grape varieties such as Garganega, Trebbiano di Soave, Prosecco (or Glera), Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara, Raboso, and the lesser-known Turca, especially in the Colli Euganei. The region's soils range from alluvial to volcanic, allowing the production of wines in various styles, from light and drinkable to full-bodied. The Colli Euganei, in particular, an ancient wine-growing area mentioned as early as the 1st century AD, consist of approximately 2500 hectares of vineyards under the DOC designation, characterized by truly high quality.
Why it's Special:
Domnus Abbas is a distinctive Metodo Classico, derived from a blend of indigenous grapes (Garganega, Raboso Piave) and the absolutely perfect grape for sparkling wines, Chardonnay. This Extra Brut sparkling wine offers the monks' interpretation of the Metodo Classico: with a captivating and unforgettable bouquet of white and yellow flowers, bread crust, and aromatic herbs, the wine provides a refreshing palate balance between smoothness and salinity. Its significance is accentuated by the historical association with the "Benedictine method," anciently perfected by monks like Dom Perignon.
The Abbey of Praglia is located at the base of the Colli Euganei, about 12 kilometers from Padua, and has a rich history dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Despite some periods of suppression, the abbey experienced a revival in 1904, continuing its Benedictine traditions to the present day. The vineyards surrounding the abbey are cultivated with minimal interventions, in the vineyard and in the cellar, reflecting a total commitment to natural practices. The winery was restarted in the 2000s, and the monks focus not only on wine production but also on beekeeping, thus creating a harmonious and healthy ecosystem. The aging of wines, including this Metodo Classico, takes place in an ancient barrel cellar inside the monastery. In addition to wine, the monks cultivate an environment where tradition, respect for nature, and the production of quality wines merge.
Best Italian Red Wine #5: Metodo Classico Brut | D'Araprì
Crafted from Bombino Bianco and Pinot Nero grapes, this Metodo Classico sparkling wine showcases a distinctive combination of indigenous and classic varieties, contributing to the complexity of the wine on the nose, accompanied by a fresh and delightful palate.
Following the tradition of Metodo Classico, particularly unique in Puglia, the wine undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle. It matures for at least 24 months on the lees at a controlled temperature of 13°C, with manual à la glace disgorgement carried out about two months before commercialization.
The wine displays a very refined chain of bubbles. The subtle perlage makes it super attractive to the eyes, emphasizing the quality of this Metodo Classico from a visual analysis.
Why it's Special:
The Bombino and Pinot Nero grapes, both carefully handpicked, contribute to the uniqueness of the wine. The winemaking process according to the traditional Metodo Classico, coupled with a minimum aging period of 24 months in the cellar, allows the wine to develop its distinctive characteristics: an ethereal bouquet with yeast notes (bread crust), along with aromas of dried flowers, fruity notes of apple, yellow peach, and orange. On the palate, it is dry and very elegant.
Terroir: San Severo, Puglia
The wine hails from the territory of San Severo in the province of Foggia, in the northern part of Puglia. This region is renowned for viticulture, with grape cultivation playing a crucial role in the local landscape and economy. Bombino Bianco is the flagship grape of the region, possibly imported from Spain but with a long history in Puglia. The grape's name is thought to derive from the shape of the cluster resembling a child with outstretched arms or from the Spanish word "bovino," meaning "good wine." In this territory, the D'Araprì winery has initiated the production of exceptionally high-quality sparkling wines.
Winery: Cantina D'Araprì
Cantina D'Araprì is a small winery located in the northern part of Puglia and a true excellence in the panorama of sparkling wines in southern Italy. Founded in 1979 by three friends (D'Amico, Rapini, and Priore), the winery focuses on enhancing Bombino Bianco, producing sparkling wines with a strong territorial identity. The winery offers a range of sparkling wines, from Brut to Pas Dosé, from Rosé to Riserva Nobile, Gran Cuvée, and Dama Forestiera: a unique production in the region.
The vineyards, cultivated with low plant density, about 3500 plants per hectare, follow the Puglian pruning system. The region's microclimate, protected from frost and well-ventilated, combined with the calcareous and clayey soils of the terroir, creates ideal conditions for sparkling wine production. The winery employs traditional Champagne practices, including manual remuage and dégorgement, demonstrating a commitment to quality. Cantina D'Araprì dedicates significant efforts to valorizing Bombino, aiming to express its unique personality through sparkling wine production.
What is the most popular Italian sparkling wine? And why it is not on the list?
Among the most renowned Italian sparkling wines, the Franciacorta DOCG "Cuvée Prestige" by Ca del Bosco stands out as one of the most famous. It is undeniably delicious but not included in our list as the goal here is to highlight absolute yet hidden gems, those lesser-known treasures that might not be as widely recognized but boast exceptional quality and character. The Franciacorta "Cuvée Prestige" is a popular, widely available, and celebrated choice. In this list, we focus instead on introducing wine enthusiasts to unexplored sparkling wines, those absolute quality bubbles that are less known, bringing with them the idea of discovering new things. The world of Italian sparkling wines is rich and diverse, and we, at Sommelier Wine Box, want to shed light on those less-explored options that deserve attention to understand the true quality of Italian wine.
Glossary on sparkling wines
Acidity: A crucial component in sparkling wines, providing freshness, balance, and a lively sensation on the palate.
Blanc de Blancs: A sparkling wine made exclusively from white grapes, often Chardonnay.
Blanc de Noirs: A sparkling wine made exclusively from red grapes.
Bombino Bianco: An Italian white grape variety used in the production of still and sparkling wines, contributing delicate flavors, often showcasing floral and fruity notes.
Brut: A term indicating a dry sparkling wine, with low sugar content.
Cava: A Spanish sparkling wine, often produced in Catalonia, made using the traditional method and typically featuring indigenous grape varieties.
Champagne: Sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France, made using the traditional method.
Chardonnay: A widely planted white grape variety used in the production of sparkling wines, contributing to the wine's body, structure, and often providing notes of citrus, green apple, and toast.
Charmat Method (or Martinotti): An alternative method for producing sparkling wine, where the secondary fermentation occurs in a large tank before bottling, commonly used for Prosecco.
Cuvée: A blend of different wines, often of different grape varieties or vintages.
Disgorgement: The process of removing sediment from bottles after secondary fermentation in the traditional method.
Dosage: The addition of a sugar and wine mixture after disgorgement to adjust sweetness.
Demi-Sec: A term indicating a sweet sparkling wine, with a higher sugar content compared to Sec (sugar between 32 and 50 grams per liter).
Extra Brut: A very dry sparkling wine with minimal added sugar (sugar content between 0 and 6 grams per liter).
Franciacorta DOCG: A prestigious Italian sparkling wine designation from the Lombardy region, made using the traditional method.
Garganega: A white grape variety native to Italy, prominently used in the production of Soave wines, contributing fresh and floral characteristics.
Glera: The primary grape variety used in the production of Prosecco, yielding light and fruity sparkling wines with floral and green apple aromas.
Lees: Residual yeast cells left in the wine after fermentation, contributing to flavor complexity.
Méthode Champenoise (or Traditional Method): The traditional method of making sparkling wine, involving a secondary fermentation in the bottle.
Perlage: The stream of bubbles in a sparkling wine, often referred to as the effervescence.
Petillant: A lightly sparkling wine with fewer bubbles than traditional sparkling wine.
Pinot Bianco: A white grape variety commonly used in the production of sparkling wines, adding freshness, acidity, and citrus notes.
Pinot Noir: A red grape variety commonly used in the production of sparkling wines, adding complexity, depth, and red fruit flavors.
Prosecco: An Italian sparkling wine, usually made from Glera grapes using the Charmat method, resulting in a light and fruity profile.
Raboso Piave: A red grape variety from the Veneto region, often used in the production of red and sparkling wines, contributing to wines with rich color, tannins, and dark fruit flavors.
Sec: A term indicating a slightly sweet sparkling wine, with a higher sugar content than Brut (sugar content exceeding 50 grams per liter).
Seco: A term used in Spanish sparkling wines to indicate dryness.
Sparkling Wine: A wine containing dissolved carbon dioxide, creating bubbles and effervescence.
Tank Fermentation: Fermentation that occurs in a sealed tank, often used in bulk sparkling wine production.
Tai (also known as Tocai): An Italian white grape variety used in the production of still and sparkling wines, offering floral and fruity notes.
Trento DOC: A designation of controlled origin for sparkling wines produced in the Trentino region of Italy, undergoing the traditional method of fermentation in the bottle.
Trebbiano di Soave: A white grape variety frequently found in the Soave wine production, contributing to the wine's acidity, lightness, and citrus notes.
In conclusion, venturing into the world of Italian sparkling wines can be a delightful journey, especially for beginners seeking both quality and accessibility. The carefully curated list of the "5 Best Italian Sparkling Wines for Beginners to Buy Online in 2023" aimed to introduce enthusiasts to exceptional options that seamlessly blend tradition and innovation. From the Trento DOC to the elegance of Franciacorta DOCG, the selection offers a unique expression of Italy's diverse terroirs and winemaking expertise. Whether toasting to a special occasion or simply savoring the joy of bubbly moments, these wines provide an excellent starting point for those eager to explore the effervescent charm of Italian sparkling wines. As the world of wine continues to evolve, these choices serve as a testament to the rich heritage and ongoing innovation within Italy's sparkling wine landscape, inviting newcomers to indulge in the effervescence of “la dolce vita”.
Cheers to discovering and enjoying the effervescent treasures that Italian sparkling wines have to offer!