Any time is a good time for sparkling wines and to me a chilled glass or two seems just right when I am sitting in a garden, at the poolside or even on a picnic. Here are 10 sparklers from Italy that I have enjoyed recently that cost $25 or less a bottle. The list includes white, rose and red sparklers and some are made from unusual grape varieties.
Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). $19
Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Prosecco Brut Treviso DOC Pasqua made from 100% Glera grapes grown on hillside vineyards in the Conegliano sub zone of Treviso. The Charmat method is used and the wine stays in the tanks for 60 days instead of the more common 30 days. This produces tiny, more persistent bubbles and a more elegant Prosecco. It has hints of pear and apple and the alcohol is only 11% . $16
Falanghina Beneventano Santè Brut IGT 100% Falanghina. DonnaChiara. The vineyard is in Torre Cuso, the best location to grow Falanghina. The soil is volcanic chalky clay. There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, the owner of DonnaChiara, referred to the production method used as the Martinotti method for sparkling wine (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s). Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it was fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It was the perfect wine for the appetizers which were very much in the tradition of Campania.
Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Lange 2011 DOC 100% Pinot Noir Banfi Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage) on pupitres and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.$25
Durello 36 Riserva Extra Brut Metodo Classico DOC made from 85% Lessini Durello and 15% Pinot Noir Sandro Bruno. The soil is volcanic with basaltic rocks. The vineyard is 4 hectares with a southern exposure at 500 meters. The vines are 35 years old. The vineyards are cultivated without the use of pesticides. Manual harvest takes place the 3rd week of September. There is a selection of grapes followed by a soft pressing in a nitrogen saturation at a low temperature. Fermentation is in steel tanks for both grapes. After fermentation the lees will be preserved by performing weekly batonnage for 8 months. Sugars 1g/l The wine remains on its own yeast for 36 months. It ages in bottle for 6 more months before release. This is an intense wine with mineral aromas. Hints of white flowers, pear, almonds and a note of lemon.$25
Caprettone Spumante Method Classico 100% Caprettone CasaSetaro Production zone Alto Tirone, Vesuvius National Park. The age of the vineyards is 18 to 25 years. They are at 350 meters and the training system is espalier, guyot trained with a few buds per plant. Vinification: maceration at 4C in steel tanks, fermentation for 18 to 24 days, the second fermentation takes place after about six months. The wine remains on the lees for 30 months and remains in bottle for about 12 months before release. The Caprettone grape is excellent for making spumante method classico because it has very good body and produces a round and elegant wine.$20
Cantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2010, made from Piedirossa and Sciascinoso. Fermentation with selected yeast takes place in temperature controlled autoclaves. This is a fizzy red wine that when poured has a lot of foam that quickly disappears in the glass. It is fruity with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of raspberries and strawberries, and easy to drink. In Naples they often drink sparkling beverages with pizza and Gragnano goes very well with pizza margarita. $16
Lambrusco di Sorbara Rosato Millesimato 2013 Cantina della Volta made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara (Emilia Romagna). The harvest is manual, then the grapes are soft pressed, the must is clarified, and the alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for at least six months in the tanks for the maturation process, selected yeast is added before the wine is bottled. The bottles are stored horizontally in piles for the long re-fermentation process and maturation at a controlled temperature, then remuage, disgorgement and liqueur d’expedition. The wine has hints of red fruit with a touch of hazelnuts and pomegranate.$24
Vietti Moscato D’Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG 2014 is made from the same grape as Asti Spumante and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG $16
Banfi Vigna Regale “Rosa Regale” Spumante Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG 2014 is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts. $20