Every bottle of wine is an opportunity to learn something.
This is why I enjoy participating in #WineStudio, a live, 4-week long, wine tasting and education series that takes place each Tuesday evening from 9-10pm EST on Twitter. We discuss things like terroir, winemaking, grape varieties, culture, pairings, and occasionally (OK, often), there’s a smattering of tomfoolery. It’s hosted by Protocol Wine Studio, and usually focuses on a singular theme, but wines and/or wineries change each week. If you haven’t already, please join in the conversation!
Part of the #WineStudio experience is the opportunity to taste some sample wines from the guest wineries. And in return, participants are asked to write-up their impressions of both the wines and the evening. With so many of my fellow bloggers writing keenly about the very same thing, I wanted to come up with an angle that’s at least a little bit different. So, I decided to make a list of the 15 things I learned. (Why 15? Why not?)
Our #WineStudio guest last month was Italian sparkling wine maestro, Ferrari Trento.
So, what did I learn? I’ll tell you, but first we need a map. Because I can’t think without a map.
- Ferrari Trento is a family-run winery, only it’s run by the Lunelli Family, not the Ferrari Family. This is because founder, Giulio Ferrari, had no heirs. He hand-picked Bruno Lunelli to take over the reigns in 1952. Today, Bruno’s grandchildren run the winery.
- Ferrari Trento is located in the Trentino-Alto Adige, the northernmost region in Italy. Trentino is the southern half of that region. It’s a mountainous province, which butts up against The Dolomites (the Southern Alps), and is sandwiched between Lombardy to the west and Veneto to the south and east.
- The Trento DOC was the first DOC in Italy devoted to sparkling wines made in the Metodo Classico. Trento DOC = mountain viticulture. Vineyards are located on the slopes of the Dolomites, at 300-700 meters above sea level. The Alps provide a rain shadow to the valley, and large diurnal temperature shifts.
- Trento DOC has an ideal soil diversity, consisting of dolomitic rock, fluvial deposits, porphyry (igneous rock), moraine debris, and volcanic deposits. These soils = delicious minerality in your bubbles glass!
- Ferrari won the “Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year” title at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in 2015. In the final round of competition, they beat out Charles Heidsieck and Louis Roederer.
- There’s a Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. (Seriously. I had no idea.)
- Ferrari was the first winery to plant Chardonnay in Italy.
- There are four grapes permitted in Trento DOC sparkling wine: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Blanc. Sound familiar? Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are the most dominant.
- In the Trento DOC, all grapes must be hand-harvested.
- Ferrari is the poster-child for the Italian Art of Living — an appreciation for history, culture, cuisine, and the simple beauty in nature . . . a daily celebration of life, friends and family.
- All of the Ferrari vineyards are being converted to organic and sustainable cultivation methods. Underscoring the need to be a contributing member to the health of the land, weed killers and insecticides are banned at Ferrari.
- Worms and bees are essential to the Ferrari vineyards. The bees pollinate biodiverse plantings between the vineyard rows. And eventually, those plantings are plowed into the soil, creating the perfect habitat for worms. And the worms help make the soil a happy place for the grapes.
- Italian sparkling wine doesn’t always mean Prosecco. Sometimes it means kick-ass, cool-climate bubbles!
- I have a definite preference for kick-ass, cool-climate bubbles.
- Jamie Stewart, Ambassador for Ferrari Trento, is an absolute hoot! (Check out some of his quotes below.)
Here are the four Ferrari bubbles we tasted, and some of the virtual pairings we enjoyed. I’ve said it before, but my fellow WineStudio participants have some serious kitchen chops. I’m not totally inept in the kitchen, but lumped in with this crowd, I feel like a gate-crasher on the set of Master Chef.
Ferrari Brut ⭐⭐⭐/87
Unfortunately, I missed Brut Week because I was driving back from a college visit with my son. But I did taste later. This is 100% Chardonnay, aged for 24 months on the lees. The color of old hay. Medium intensity, but youthful. Red delicious apple and pear, with lovely mineral notes, and a wink of pine nuts on the finish. A keen value at $25.
Some of the pairings from Brut Week:
- Kumomoto Oysters
- Butternut Squash Ravioli w/ Sage Butter Prosciutto
- Seared Scallops over Creamy Myer Lemon Risotto
- Agar (a sea vegetable puree — and youbetcha, I had to look that up)
- Trentino Grana Padano Cheese (Grana Padano is the local cheese, similar to Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- Risotto alla Valdostana (Risotto with Fontina cheese and white wine — looked that up, too!)
- Popcorn! (Oooh. I can totally make popcorn.)
Ferrari Rosé ⭐⭐⭐/89
A blend of 60% Pinot Nero, 40% Chardonnay, aged for 24 months on the lees. Ferrari Ambassador, Jamie Stewart, likened the color of the Rosé to sunlight on the shell of a Vidalia Onion. I was going to go with copper-pink, but Jamie’s description works, too. 😉 Strawberry, rhubarb, and roses. Elegant. The finish reminds me of homemade pie crust (which only happens around here if someone else makes it). $36.
Some of the pairings from Rosé Week:
- Margherita Pizza
- Prosciutto Wrapped Mozzarella
- Buccatini Carbonara (pasta with prosciutto, egg yolks and Parmigiano-Reggiano)
- Pork Chops and Parmesan Gruyère Polenta (a pairing suggested by Jamie Stewart, because the Rosé has a ravenous appreciation for fat).
- Carne Crudo with Golden Ostera and Black Truffle Creme (this belongs in the over-achiever category)
- Chicken Fried Fois Gras with Aged Gruyère, Pancetta and Maple Syrup (again, over-achiever)
- Red Snapper pan seared with Shishito Peppers, Honeydew, and Mango Passionfruit Reduction (I’m starting to get a serious kitchen-inferiority complex here . . . do you have anything kitchen-mortals can make? Can we go back to popcorn?)
The best quote of Rosé night belongs to Jamie Stewart . . . Life is spectacular. Forget the dark things. Take a drink and let time wash the dark things away to wherever time washes dark things away to.
Ferrari Perlé ⭐⭐⭐⭐/90
100% Chardonnay, aged for 5 years on the lees. Super deep golden-yellow color. Bubbles for miles. Mmmm, yeast. Pear, apple, creme brûlée, honey. More structured than the Brut, complex and elegant. If someone offers to pour you a Perlé, don’t decline. $38.
Some of the pairings from Perlé Week:
- Caprese Salad
- Chicken Fajitas
- Seared Tuna and Butternut Squash with Alfredo Sauce
- Culatello Wrapped Grissini (salt-cured meat similar to prosciutto, wrapped around a breadstick)
I must not have written down all of the pairings, I know there were more. I must have been excited because these are all recipes I can actually make!
Quote of the Night (Jamie Stewart again): Perlé puts Champagne in a corner in a fetal position sucking its thumb in vexation and humility. So there. Take that, Champagne.
Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondative 2001 ⭐⭐⭐⭐/92
100% Chardonnay, aged for 10 years on the lees. Giulio is only made in the best vintages, the first bottle was made in 1972. Someone said this wine has a slight cheese-like aroma, and well, power of suggestion . . . it kinda does. Lean, but full and rich. Golden raisins, toasted brioche, almonds. A finish from here to next Tuesday. A truly special wine. $120.
Quote of the Night (Jamie Stewart for the win): On the difference between Ferrari and Franciacorta (another sparkler from Italy) . . . Our wines are firmer in texture and structure. The absence of Pinot Bianco means no soluble baby aspirin acid (an aspartame flavor and texture). From here on out, if you don’t throw baby aspirin into a tasting note, you’re doing it wrong.
Some of the pairings from Giulio Week:
- Roasted Salmon with Garlic Butter and Creamy Spinach Orzo
- Mozzarella in Carrozza (this translates to Mozzarella in a carriage . . . no idea why mozzarella needs a carriage)
- Smoked Salmon, Arugula, and Lobster Ravioli with Prosciutto Asparagus
- Langostino & Caviar (Langostino = little lobster en Español)
- Riso Mantecato (Rice in butter, white wine, Fontina cheese, and white truffles)
- Salted Roasted Walnuts (Finally! We’ve circled back to my kitchen speed.)