Trento DOC: The Sparkling Elegance of the Italian Alps
Trento DOC is a prestigious Italian sparkling wine that beautifully captures the essence of the Trentino region in the Italian Alps. With a long-standing tradition of winemaking dating back to the early 20th century, Trento DOC has gained recognition as one of Italy’s finest sparkling wines. I recently attended a seminar by the Trento DOC Consortium, which provided some insight into the history, terroir, production process, and unique characteristics of Trento DOC, showcasing why it has become a symbol of elegance and quality.
The story of Trento DOC begins in the early 1900s with Giulio Ferrari, a visionary winemaker, who brought his newly acquired knowledge of sparkling wines from Champagne, France to the Trentino region of Italy. He endeavored to create a sparkling wine that rivals French Champagne. He did just that, and in 1952, Trento DOC was officially recognized as a Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC).
The Trentodoc denomination was established in 1993 and is the first Italian DOC to produce only Classic Method sparkling wines, one of the first worldwide. Trentino was awarded the title of “Wine Region of the Year 2020” by Wine Enthusiast magazine and in October 2021 Trentodoc was the most awarded Italian sparkling wine at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC). “Tradition, territory, climate and winemakers’ expertise – which plays a key role in classic method production – are the secret keys to the success of Trentodoc.”
Terroir & Appellation
Trentino is part of the administrative region of Trentino-Alto Adige (Südtirol), located in northern Italy, bordering Austria. The unique alpine topography is ideal for growing grapes. The region is characterized by its high altitudes due to the mountainous terrain of the Dolomites. Vineyards are located at an altitude between 200 and 1000 meters above sea level. Its position and proximity to the Dolomites allow for a microclimate that helps the grapes retain their acidity and freshness. The soil is also rich in limestone and dolomite, which give the wine its mineral character. Naturally, the Adige river, Lake Garda and other tributaries also contribute to the climate and wine production. Today, the Instituto Trento DOC represents 67 sparkling wine producers.
Due to its Austrian influence, many producers in Trentino use a German-style approach to winemaking. Trento DOC wines are produced using the Metodo Classico, also known as the traditional method or méthode champenoise. This labor-intensive process involves a secondary fermentation that takes place in the bottle, resulting in the signature bubbles and complex flavors that define sparkling wines.
The grapes used in Trento DOC wines are predominantly Chardonnay, with smaller amounts of Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Meunier permitted in the blend. The grapes are hand-picked to ensure optimal quality and then gently pressed to obtain the juice. After the primary fermentation, the wine is bottled along with a small amount of yeast and sugar, which triggers the secondary fermentation, during which the carbon dioxide is trapped in the bottle, creating the bubbles.
The bottles are then aged on their lees, allowing the wine to develop rich flavors and delicate aromas. Minimum aging requirements for Trento DOC wines range from 15 months for non-vintage to a minimum of 24 months for millesimato (vintage) and at least 36 months for the riserva. However, many producers exceed these requirements, opting for longer aging periods to enhance complexity and refinement.
Sparkling wines of Trento DOC exhibit a remarkable elegance and finesse, reflecting the unique terroir of the Trentino region. They are known for their vibrant acidity, crispness, and fine and persistent perlage. The wines often display a pale straw color with golden highlights, and their aromas range from citrus fruits and green apples to delicate floral and brioche notes. The palate can be complex with a creamy texture and/or mineral undertones. The wines are versatile and can be enjoyed alone as an aperitivo or paired with a wide array of dishes, including seafood, poultry, and soft cheeses.
As mentioned, I recently attended a seminar by Trento Doc and Colangelo PR. The Trento DOC Seminar was expertly led by Gabriele Gorelli, Italy’s first Master of Wine, and featured the following 11 bottles:
Trento DOC Endrizzi Piancastello Brut Riserva Rosè 2018
60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. This champagne-esq rose is produced from grapes in calcareous soil, which lends to its strong bite and saltiness. Rose-gold in color with intense aromas. Aged in stainless steel and barrique. 48 months on the lees. Lean, but lively and complex. Very fine bubbles.
Trento DOC Monsieur Martis Brut Millesimato Rosè de Noir 2018
100% Pinot Munier. Delicate red fruits, wild strawberry and mountain herbs. Aged in stainless steel. 48 months on the lees. The calcareous, red rock Trentino soil yields an elegant sparkling wine with a lovely mineral finish.
Trento DOC Cantina D’Isera 907 Extra Brut Riserva 2017
Produced from 100% Chardonnay grapes grown 500-600 meters asl. The soil is volcanic with fluvial and glacial deposits. This single varietal wine is elegant with good acidity and sapidity. This extra brut riserva has a lovely nose of wild flowers and green apple on the palate. Aged in stainless steel and 6 months in wood. 50 months on the lees. What a beauty! Cantina D’Isera is a cooperative and has rightfully won Sparkling Wine of the Year.
Trento DOC Ferrari Perlé Brut Millesimato 2017
Giulio Ferrari was actually the first to recognize the potential of Chardonnay in Trentino and to use Metodo Classico. Perlé is 100% Chardonnay from loose volcanic soil with glacial deposits. This wine is aged in stainless steel and left on its lees for 5 years. Aromas of peach and white flowers. Although wood/oak is not used, this wine demonstrates a beautiful balance of creaminess and saltiness. Fine and persistent perlage. Definitely a classic representation and fan favorite.
Trento DOC Revì Blasé Dosaggio Zero Millesimato 2016
There is nothing blase about Blasé! It may be zero in sugar, but it is definitely chock-full of flavor. Instead, Blasé is rather complex and powerful, yet refined. Precise. Salty, stoney, chalky, fruity, vanilla, all come together. 75% Chardonnay and 25%. Pinot Nero. Stainless steel aged with no malolactic fermentation. Aged on the lees for 42 + 24 months post disgorgement.
Trento DOC Monfort Le Général Dallemagne Extra Brut Riserva 2016
80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Nero. This wine is big and powerful. Creamy, yet with great finesse. Aromatic complexity and lots of strength. Calcareous soil. Mineral focused. Citrus notes. Aged half the time in stainless steel and half in oak. On the lees for 50 months.
Trento DOC Letrari Brut Riserva 2016
60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Nero grown in calcareous soil. The Pinot gives structure and strength, while the Chardonnay adds the fruit. Full, round, complex ripe fruit over citrus (peach) and spice. Angular, ambitions, ripe fruit, but also creamy. Lovely color. Classic contrast between sweet and salty. 60 months on the lees.
Trento DOC Opera Nature Dosaggio Zero Millesimato 2014
100% Chardonnay full of grapefruit and citrus flavors. Strong acidity, low ph. energetic, bright, yet balanced. Elegant mouth feel. Stainless steel aged with 5 years on the lees.
Trento DOC Moser Blauen Extra Brut Blanc de Noirs Millesimato 2015
Blauen is the German name for Pinot Noir, and it is most fitting as this wine is 100% Pinot Nero. Complex. 72 months on the lees, which leads to its delicateness and finesse. Dolomite and limestone soil. No malolactic fermentation. Blueberry, strawberry, herbal and floral notes. This Pinot noir drinks like a white. Fine on the palate.
Trento DOC Rotari Flavio Brut Riserva 2014
I am most family with Rotari, as I have enjoyed many of their wines. It was a pleasure to speak with the ecologist, Lucio Matricardi. The name, Rotari, honors the King of Lombardia. This wine, Flavio, is 100% Chardonnay. Very fresh and aromatic with notes of stone fruit, peach, apricot, melon and almond. Complex, creamy and elegant with a good mouth feel and a fantastic mineral finish. Fresh with bright acidity. 96 months on the lees!
Trento DOC Cesarini Sforza Aquila Reale Brut Riserva 2012
Cesarini Forza represents another noble family. Aquila Reale is a single vineyard of 100% Chardonnay from Valle di Cembra, the heart of Trentino. Aged in steel with 7 months in oak. This wine spent 100 months on the lees! Fruity aromas, while the palate is creamy with notes of bread crust. Complex and impressive. Great structure, elegance and finesse. This sparkling wine is a clear indication of its aging potential.
Following was a walk-around tasting featuring more of Trento Doc. It was truly informative and delightful.
Both the seminar and walk-around tasting presented a thorough examination of the Trento DOC appellation, the terroir, the productivity and the potential. Ultimately, Trento DOC represents the pinnacle of Italian sparkling wine production, with its heritage, meticulous craftsmanship, and unique alpine character. The combination of a cool mountain climate, high-quality grapes, and the traditional method of production contributes to the creation of exceptional wines that rival their French counterparts.