Friday, December 9, 2016

Visit to Five Sparkling Wineries of Trentodoc, Italy

(November 2016) When you next find yourself in the breathtakingly beautiful Dolomite mountains of northern Italy, make sure to take a few extra days to visit these wineries which specialize in producing the sparkling wine of Trentodoc, made in the traditional method with secondary fermentation in bottle. During our visit, we were able to enjoy tastings with the following producers:


Dolomites Mountains of the Trentodoc Wine Region in Italy.  Photo Credit: Trentodoc Wines


Cesarini Sforza – Sparkling Wine from the Land of the Eagle

We met with the owner and winemaker of Cesarini SforzaWinery while having dinner at Maso Franch Restaurant in Giovo in the hills outside of Trento. They treated us to a vintage tasting of six of their wines, including some single vineyard riservas from Aquila Reale, which means “land of the eagle.” The 2009 and 2001 were real standouts.

Cembra Valley – Home of Highest Altitude Winery in Italy

After a delicious lunch at Le Due Spade Restaurant in Trento, we drove into the mountains and through the steep vineyards of the CembraValley, home to the highest altitude winery in Italy. It reminded me of the steep slopes of the Mosel in Germany, but the vines here were on the high pergola trellis systems. With the rugged snow-capped Dolomites in the distance, this truly is one of the most beautiful and unique to wine growing regions in the world.

We were honored to have a lecture on the viticulture practices and climate from Professor Tomas Roman, which was fascinating, until the howling winds brought snow down from the mountains to swirl around us – chasing many of us (including me) back into the warm van.


Steep Hillsides of the Trentodoc Wine Region in Italy with Snow Covered Mountains

Opera Vitivinicola – A Wine Named “Opera,” But Not for the Music

The next winery we visited was called Opera, which means “work passion” and doesn’t have anything to do with “musical opera,” but should, because the wines are very harmonious and unique.  Founded in 1885 and re-established in 2005, owner Alfio Garzetti and winemakers Paul Tiefenthaler and Mattia Clementi, are passionate about making linear high-acid sparkling wines.

Alfio told us that in order to farm on the steep hillsides it takes 700 hours of work per year per hectare. Many of their wines are aged 60 to 75 months on the lees, with very low or zero dosage. The razor sharpness of these wines reminded me a bit of “Salon” in a cold year.  They only produce 80,000 bottles from 10 hectares of vineyards, and do not export any wine yet. With such a marketable and memorable name and a unique wine style, they should be quite successful once they start.

I had many favorites, but one that really lingered with me was the Opera Nature. It was 100% chardonnay, 40 months on the lees, no dosage, fresh, chalky, mineral, hazelnut, and mouthwatering.



Winetasting at Opera Winery in Trentodoc Wine Region of Italy

Maso Martis Winery – A Walk in the Vineyard with the Family Dog

Still dreaming of the private dinner in the MUSE Museum that we had enjoyed the evening before, we woke up to a bright and sunny day.  The snowflakes from the day before had disappeared, and it was calm and almost warm when we had a chance to walk in the vineyards of Maso Martis Winery. Here the whole family came out to greet us, as well as the winery dog. We were very impressed with the passion and dedication to the land and fine winemaking expressed by Antonio, the father, Roberta, the mother, Alessandra, the daughter, and Mateo, the winemaker.


The Winery Dog in the Vineyard at Maso Martis Winery, Italy

They believe in organic viticulture as a philosophy of life for the 12 hectares they own, planted on gently rolling hillsides composed of red dolomite soil. They only produce 60,000 bottles of wine and export a small amount. Their most famous sparkling wine is Madame Martis, which is 70% pinot noir, full-bodied with power and structure.  It is also aged 8 to 9 years on the lees!


Enjoying the Sunshine in the Maso Martis Winery Vineyard of Trentodoc Italy

Dorigati Winery – Home of Methius Sparkling Wine

Winemaker Paolo Dorigati welcomed us to his home and small winery located next to a sheer rock cliff of the Dolomites. Started in 1894, Dorigati Winery is not only known for sparkling, but it also famous for its red wines made from the Teroldego grape.

We enjoyed a visit to the cellars, and then were fascinated with an experimental tasting of the famous Methius 2002 Riserva  - one which had been disgorged in 2016 and one that had been disgorged in 2007.  Though both were the exact same wine, the late disgorged one showed more ripeness and was fuller-bodied, whereas the older disgorged wine showed more complexity and elegance. Both were extremely well-balanced with a very long finish.


The Sheer Rock Cliff Rising Behind Dorigati Winery in Trentodoc, Italy

Rotari Winery – Part of Mezzacorona and Wines of the Italian Alps

For lunch we were welcomed to Mezzacorona, one of the largest winery cooperatives in Italy with over 1600 farmers. Started in 1904, they farm 2500 hectares, and make a variety of wines. Their sparkling wine brand is Rotari, which is sold in the US as well as other countries.

We met with the winemaker who immediately gave us a glass of sparkling wine and invited us to sample some appetizers while he described how the wines were produced. “This is the only place in the world where you can see people skiing while pruning the vineyard,” he said, as he described their vineyards in the Italian Alps.


Lunch Table Set in Sparkling Wine Cellar of Rotari in Trentodoc, Italy

Over lunch, we tasted six sparkling wines, with one of the best risottos I’ve ever had in Italy and a delicious branzino fish. Some of my favorite bubblies included the Rotari Extra Brut 2010, Rotari Alperegis Pas Dose 2009, and Rotari Alperegis Rose Brut 2011.


Lunch Menu Paired with Rotari Sparkling Wines



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