Unlock the Magic of Italian Sparkling
Unlock the Magic of Italian Sparkling
Champagne for my real friends, real pain for my sham friends, the old expression goes. It was meant to elevate France’s bubbly above all others.
As it turns out, France has no monopoly on the world’s finest sparkling wine. One often overlooked competitor is Italy, home of some of the finest–and most diverse–sparklers. We’ve partnered with Banfi to help decode the language, grape varieties, and styles that define sparkling Italian wines. Read on for everything you need to know about sweet, dry, red, white, and rosé sparklers, all from the heart of Italy.
A refreshing, sweet wine that is best served ice-cold, Brachetto d’Acqui, produced in Piedmont from the red Brachetto varietal, offers notes of delicate flowers, strawberries, and fresh grapefruit. Grape must is macerated with the skins for two days to achieve pigmentation before the wine is aged in bottle for a minimum of three months before release. Wine achieves its sparkle through the Charmat method, the same method of carbonation used in the production of Prosecco. Banfi now produces a rosé version; Rosa Regale Sparkling Rosé Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG, available in both 750- and 187-ml bottles, is a pristine example of this elegant and aromatic wine, offering up a vibrant acidity to balance ripe melon sweetness on the palate. This socially adept bottle pairs best with parties and occasions, like brunch.
Produced in northern Italy’s Veneto region–more specifically, in the Valdobbiadene–Prosecco, made from the green-skinned Glera grape, is a popular style of sparkling wine both within and outside of Italy. Made in the Charmat method, where the second fermentation takes place in a tank rather than in bottle, Prosecco is known as a lively, bright, and less expensive companion than traditional method sparkling wines.
Made in the Metodo Classico, or traditional method, wherein a second fermentation occurs within the bottle, Franciacorta is often referred to as the Champagne of Italy. Franciacorta is made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Bianco in northern Italy’s Lombardy region. A savory, full-bodied style of sparkling wine, Franciacorta offers a rich mouthfeel, fine perlage, and toasty notes on the back palate.ˆ
An all-encompassing term that simply refers to a “sparkling white wine,” spumante can refer to wines of all designations. Traditionally, the most famous spumante was Asti Spumante, a wine produced from Moscato in northern Italy, but Sicily’s dry spumantes–white sparkling wines produced from the Catarratto, Grillo, and Nerello Mascalese grapes, for instance–have recently risen to prominence in Italy’s sparkling wine world. Spumante can also refer back to wines made in the Metodo Classico, like Banfi’s Rosa Regale line of sparkling wines. The Banfi Brut, a blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Bianco, is an intense and fragrant wine that pairs with everything from cheese to buttery pasta dishes, while the Cuvée Aurora Rosé, a 100-percent Pinot Noir Metodo Classico sparkler from Alta Langa DOCG, in Piedmont, delivers red fruit, rose petals, and a persistent mouthfeel.
The name for both a style of wine and the grape from which it is produced, Lambrusco hails from the Emilia-Romagna region, just south of Venice and Milan. Although Lambrusco, the grape, is a thick-skinned and red-pigmented varietal, Lambrusco can be produced in white, rosé, and red iterations, depending on the skin contact. The sparkling wines made from this grape range from bone-dry to sweet and are produced in the Charmat method, with second fermentation occurring in the tank. Classic versions of this wine are deep red, frothy, and full of bright red fruit and florals, like tart cherry, strawberry, and violets.