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  Editorial Issue 88, September 2010   
The Revenge of Italian BubblesThe Revenge of Italian Bubbles  Contents 
Issue 87, Summer 2010 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 89, October 2010

The Revenge of Italian Bubbles


 The world of bubbles is vast and rich of sparkling surprises. The attention towards this style of wines is getting more and more higher, in particular in the seasons in which the heat is particularly strong. In these periods, a glass of cool and inebriating bubbles seems to promise an immediate relief against the heat. And when we think about bubbles, choosing among Italian ones, the first names coming to mind certainly are Franciacorta and Prosecco, as well as Asti, Trento and Oltrepò Pavese. This is the sign in these areas they worked very well in identifying the product with the territory. The number of bubbles of the Bel Paese is increasing each year: from Valle d'Aosta to Sicily, many wineries are involved in the production of these wines, in their own wineries or with the help of others. It should be said there is still a lot to do for the promotion of bubbles, in particular for their identity, so frequently confused one for another, so frequently called with wrong names.


 

 One of the most famous cases is Prosecco, also because of the work they still need to do for the safeguarding of the territory and of the product. Maybe this is also because of the name of this grape - Prosecco is, by the way, the name of a grape, not of a wine style - which, in Italian language, may recall a basically dry wine still having some kind of sweetness in it. It is undeniable the name Prosecco is very famous, both in Italy and abroad, but it is also undeniable it is frequently used for identifying, in general terms, every sparkling wine. We believe many of you had been offered a glass of wine, even and sadly by professionals, while calling this wine Prosecco, even worse, with the odious, however common, name of prosecchino, when in that bottle there was everything but a wine produced with the Prosecco grape, most of the times a truly ordinary and dull carbonated wine.

 Generalization to which sparkling wines are usually referred, most of the times served in an appropriate way, as aperitifs in banquets or as dessert wines, carelessly served as dry or sweet, does not certainly helps the understanding of the world of bubbles. Not to mention qualitative and organoleptic differences among the many production methods, including the grapes used for the production of sparkling wines. Whether in the beginning in Italy were Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc to express the characteristics of Italian bubbles, today things are quite changed, or, better to say, this does not represents the only case anymore. If we exclude the main territories in which these grapes are the origin of their bubbles - Franciacorta, Trento and Oltrepò Pavese - in the rest of the country, besides these three varieties, in the production of sparkling wines are more and more used autochthonous varieties of each territory.

 More and more frequently in the glass, besides the charming dance of bubbles emerging to the top, we are finding autochthonous grapes from all the Italian regions, such as Verdicchio, Aglianico, Arneis, Asprinio, Catarratto, Molinara, Garganega, Raboso, Priè Blanc, Blanc de Morgex, Erbaluce, Cortese, Trebbiano di Lugana, Durella, Ribolla Gialla, Pignoletto, Albana, Fortana, Sagrantino, Sangiovese, Marzemino, Ribolla Gialla, Passerina, Falanghina, Fiano, Bombino Bianco, Negroamaro, Malvasia Nera and Bianca, Nerello Mascalese, Torbato, Vermentino, Trebbiano Spoletino, Vernaccia di Serrapetrona. This is just an incomplete list - and in an absolutely random order - of autochthonous varieties which recently have been used for the production of sparkling wines. Moreover, it should be also mentioned the varieties that, in a sense, have started the process of sparkling wines made with autochthonous grapes or have however a truly long history in our country, such as Moscato Bianco (Muscat Blanc), Brachetto and, of course, Prosecco, once called Glera, a name which is now getting used more and more in order to guarantee a better safeguarding of the grape and of the wine. These grapes have represented for may years the only Italian bubbles abroad and produced with autochthonous varieties.

 Not all grape varieties are suited to the production of sparkling wines or, better to say, not all the varieties are suited to a specific technique. There mainly are two techniques used for the production of sparkling wines: the so called Classic Method providing for the refermentation of a wine in the bottle and the Charmat Method, or Martinotti, which provides for the refermentation of the wine in a closed tank, that is large container hermetically sealed. Grapes having appreciable aromatic qualities are better suited to the Charmat method, a system ensuring a better keeping of grapes aromas, whereas Classic Method is mainly used for the production of sparkling wines having more complex organoleptic qualities as well as a fuller body. On this regard, it should be said both methods were probably invented in Italy. The closed tank method was in fact invented by Federico Martinotti in 1895, at those time headmaster of the Experimental Institute of Enology of Asti, a project then improved around 1910 by French Eugène Charmat, whose name has been then associated to the method.

 Also the Classic Method seems to have its origins in Italy. Both Francesco Scacchi, a doctor from Fabriano who lived between 1500s and 1600s, as well as Andrea Bacci - a doctor from Marches who lived in the 1500s - described in their books methods for the production of sparkling wines. The method described for making a wine piquant - this is how sparkling wines were called in Italy at those times - is similar to the method used for the refermentation in bottle and which then became very popular for the production of Champagne. Also history of wine making seems to be, like to say, by the side of Italian bubbles produced with local varieties, as at the times of Scacchi and Bacci, the renowned Chardonnay and Pinot Noir were not present in our country yet. At this point we have to consider whether the quality of the sparkling wines produced with these grapes are interesting or not. The results obtained so far are quite different one from another, from ordinary sparkling wines to truly excellent ones. In other words, the future of Italian bubbles made with autochthonous varieties is certainly long and with a long way to go - despite they walked a long way already - and it will certainly be very sparkling. Cheers!

 







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  Editorial Issue 88, September 2010   
The Revenge of Italian BubblesThe Revenge of Italian Bubbles  Contents 
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