As usual, I suggested three wines. They were: Ferrari Trento Brut Metodo Classico NV, Domaine Huet Vouvray Pétillant Brut 2014 and Recaredo Corpinnat Terrers Brut Nature 2014. Each comes from a different place and is made with different grapes.
The Ferrari is from Trento, an appellation reserved for sparkling wines within the Trentino-Alto Adige region of northeastern Italy. It is entirely chardonnay, one of the three main Champagne grapes. And it is made by the same method as Champagne, in which fully fermented still wines are bottled with a solution of sweetness and yeast. The yeast solution induces a second fermentation in the sealed bottle, producing carbon dioxide, which, with no way of escaping, carbonates the wine.
You might ask, if the wine is made with a Champagne grape by the same method, how is it not an imitation of Champagne?
In a sense, it is an imitation. But it’s not a knockoff, it clearly has its own personality derived from the Trento region. The question is whether this is a distinctive wine in its own right.
Sparkling wines made with the same grapes and methods as Champagne are not rare. Aside from this one, England does it. The United States does it. Even other Italian regions like Franciacorta do it.
Yet if you tasted the Ferrari alongside examples from California and England, each would be different. Speaking generally, the Californian wine would be sun-kissed, with ample fruit balanced by sufficient acidity. In the English version, the acidity would be paramount, and the wine would pulse with nervous energy.
What I found remarkable about the Ferrari, an entry-level $25 bottle, was the delicacy and finesse of the wine. The bubbles seemed light and fine, the texture sheer, the flavors toasty, creamy and slightly herbal. The sleek lines made me think of graceful Italian designs. It was the weight and texture that seemed to set it apart from Champagne.