Always, in Italy, the friendly moments of celebration and the joy of special occasions are bound and embellished by the bright of colors and brilliance of sparkling wines; the elegant aromas and the liveliness of the foam, enhance the flavors of each paired dish: we may designate wines throughout the meal, as they marry extremely well with cuisine of both land and sea, moving on to cheeses and desserts, being always careful in choosing the most suitable type.
Italy, along with France and Germany, is one of the world’s leading producers of sparkling wine, with numbers nearing around 300 million bottles produced annually.
Despite the legend saying that the grandfather of quality sparkling wine is Champagne, invented in France by Dom Pierre Pérignon in the seventeenth century, historical records reveal a different reality: in fact, already from the fourteenth century, in the work of the Benedictine Don Francesco Scacchi di Fabriano, “De salubri potu dissertatio“, it speaks of sparkling wine, anticipating what would then be put in place by the French.
At any rate, the Italian territory boasts products of the highest quality, thanks to the combination of soils and microclimates, the generosity of nature combined with the wisdom and experience of the industry.
The Italian zones with the highest calling for production of sparkling wine are Trentino, Lombardy, specifically Franciacorta and Oltrepò Pavese, Piedmont and Veneto.
The landscape of Italian sparkling wines is dominated mainly by two types: Franciacorta and Prosecco.
To distinguish them is first and foremost a geographical difference: Franciacorta is produced exclusively in the area of the same name, in the province of Brescia – the enchanted island of the Italian viticulture – spread over 900 hectares of hills, where cool breezes, passing by the Lake Iseo, manage to produce an ideal microclimate for the cultivation of specific varieties of grapes; prosecco, however, is produced in the Veneto provinces of Treviso and Vicenza: here too exists a soil and climate enabling the indigenous grape varieties to give amazing results unlike any other area.
The grapes used for the production of Franciacorta are exclusively chardonnay and pinot noir and pinot blanc can be used up to a maximum of 50%. For Prosecco, at least 85% of the grapes used are prosecco grapes, also called glera, given by the indigenous vine varieties of this region.
But the main difference which makes these two sparkling wines so unique is represented by their method of fermentation; in fact, for Franciacorta the Metodo Classico is used, the same method used in the production of Champagne, which provides a second fermentation in the bottle by contact with yeasts, which lasts from a minimum of 18 months up to even 7-8 years, before undergoing disgorgement. This system plays, surely, a fundamental role in the formation of secondary aromas of the wine, but above all on the quality of the texture of the bubbles. The final product will feature elegant aromas of white and yellow fruit, citrus, jasmine, vanilla and toasted notes are balanced well with those minerals and yeast, reminiscent of crosta del pane, or the aromas or fragrant bread; also the long period of aging makes the perlage fine and lingering.
In contrast, in regards to Prosecco, this is produced with the Martinotti or Charmant method, respectively the names of the inventor and the engineer who set up the system, in which is provided a second fermentation, but this time in large steel pressure tanks, lasting from 30 days to 4-6 months. Undoubtedly, the Martinotti method has represented a major breakthrough for the production of Italian sparkling wines, with the aim to reduce production costs and contextually, accelerate the timing, to the detriment of the texture of the bubbles which are coarser. Fragrant notes of fresh fruit with pear recognition, freshness and flavor are the characteristics of Prosecco, much loved by Italians as well as abroad.
These two types of extraordinary sparkling wines, are just a small slice of what Italian winemaking offers, where each region is a land inextricably linked between product and territory … You are spoiled with choices!