Discover Italy's Finest Sparkling Wines

OperaWine recently interviewed some of Italy's finest spumante producers: Visit our website www.operawine.it to watch Matteo Lunelli from Cantina Ferrari, Ettore Nicoletto from Santa Margherita, Vittorio Moretti from Bellavista; Massimiliano Gancia from Gancia and many more great producers talk about their wines and how they made consumers fall in love with them.

Verona, December 29th, 2011 - Italy is known for a small but impressive variety of sparkling wines, which they have been making since Roman times, long before champagne was ever being produced. According to Wine Spectator: Led by Prosecco, Italian bubbly consumption has skyrocketed especially in the U.S. in just a few years. The spumante market is "booming" despite being hit the hardest by the recession in 2008. Russia also shows great promise with its penchant for Italian sparkling wine, which constitute 60% of all its sparkling wine imports.

In 2010 alone, 375 million bottles of Italian Sparkling Wines were made, generally using one of two methods: the Metodo Classico (or Méthode Champenoise, with 23 million bottles in 2010) and the Charmat Method with 352 million bottles. Most of them originate from the Northern part of Italy encompassing the Regions of Trentino, Piemonte, Lombardia and Veneto. Amongst the wines selected by Wine Spectator for OperaWine: Finest Italian Wines, 100 Great Producers, some of Italy's finest examples of the variety and quality of its spumantes are represented. For Prosecco we have Santa Margherita and Carpenè Malvolti, For Metodo Classico Gancia and Ferrari, finally for Franciacorta: Ca' del Bosco) and Bellavista.

The story begins with Gancia, an Italian pioneer in creating the first "Metodo Classico" (the Italian version of méthode champenoise as they call it in Champagne) sparkling wine. At the forefront of the world of bubbles since its founding in the mid-1800s, by Charles Gancia, this important production company based in Canelli, recently underwent some changes, Vallarino Gancia's family ceded 70% of its shares to the Russian Standard Corporation, a leader in the production of high-end vodka and distribution.

 

Another of Italy's most prestigious Metodo Classico houses is Ferrari. The legend of Ferrari began with a man, Giulio Ferrari, and with his dream of creating a wine in Italy inspired by the very finest French Champagne. The brand is a symbol of the Trentino region sparkling wine and has managed to transform its products into genuine classics. Trentodoc was actually the first DOC in Italy and second in the world dedicated exclusively to Metodo Classico. Very involved in the art world, from the restoration of the fabulous Villa Margon, the "Pop Art Artist DOC" collection, consisting of 31 bottles of Ferrari Brut, branded by the likes of Mimmo Rotella and Ugo Nespolo, up to the sculpture that stands in the basement of Trento made by Arnoldo Pomodoro to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Ferrari.

Moving onto Franciacorta, which was the first DOC to specify that its sparkling wines must be made using Metodo Classico. The "champagne" of Italy, Franciacorta has been the only Italian wine not obliged to declare its DOCG appellation on the label, in the same manner that a Champagne is permitted to exclude from labels its AOC. The two most important "Maisons" of Franciacorta are: Ca' del Bosco and Bellavista. Ca' del Bosco is on the leading edge of the exciting new wave of Italian wine producers, making absolutely top-quality sparkling and still wines. Maurizio Zanella founded the winery in 1968, and dedicated himself to distinguishing the sparkling wines of Franciacorta. It is also a place devoted to art. Starting from the now famous gate of the estate, the "Sun Gate" by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro to the latest installation of "Blue Guardians" Cracking Art. One cannot talk about Franciacorta without mentioning Bellavista - Vittorio Moretti's signature winery is now firmly one of the bastions of quality Italian sparkling wines. Amongst the many initiatives of the company based in Erbusco, it is the official sponsor of the Teatro della Scala in Milan since its reopening in 2004, celebrating artists such as Luciano Pavorotti and Riccardo Muti.

One cannot talk about Italian sparkling wine without mentioning prosecco. Prosecco is an Italian white wine, which has more recently become extremely popular outside of Italy as a less expensive substitute for Champagne. Santa Margherita - the Veneto-based company that literally launched Pinot Grigio in markets around the world, is one of the best examples of the potential of Prosecco. For the fiftieth anniversary of the wine obtained by vinification of Pinot Grigio grapes only, Santa Margherita launched a metodo classico sparkling wine, made from this wonderful variety, which you will be able to discover at OperaWine Carpenè Malvolti, another pillar of prosecco, this winery was founded in 1868 by Antonio Carpenè's dream of producing a sparkling wine with grapes from the hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. A dream that now finds its full realization through the labels of one of the pillars of Prosecco.

With such a diverse, quality offering and trends pointing to increased penchant for Italian spumantes, the Italians are ready to challenge the French bubbles in 2012 like never before with the excellence of their sparkling wines.