Spumante | Sparkling, Italian-style
Did you know that there are several types of Italian sparkling wines to discover? In Italy, sparkling wines are grouped under the term “Spumante”. Throughout Opimian’s past offerings, many of them have been introduced and as the popularity for bubblies increases, you can be sure that there will be more to come!
Méthode Classique vs. Méthode Charmat
Before we get into the various types of Spumantes, it’s important to understand that there are different winemaking processes for sparkling wines. Two of these are popular in Italy. The first is the Champagne or Champenoise method, also known as the Méthode Classique, where wine is fermented twice—first in barrel, followed by fermentation in bottle where yeast, nutrients and sugar are added. The Charmat method or Metodo Martinotti is done through a single fermentation. This method requires the wine to be fermented in stainless-steel pressure tanks, where sugar and yeast are combined. Once the sugar evolves into alcohol and carbon dioxide, the yeast is filtered and removed and the wine is bottled. It is a more economical winemaking process. To better appreciate these methods, we’ve created this guide to help you understand the five main Italian sparkling wines.
Probably the most popular of the Spumantes, it is originally from the Valdobbiadene region in Veneto, northeast of Italy. It is named after the village of Prosecco and uses the Charmat method, with at least 85% Glera grapes and other varietals. Among the Prosecco DOC, if you are looking for an exceptional wine, seek out the Prosecco Superiore DOCG, a sure bet when it comes to the finest sparkling wines.
If you wish to take a break from the ordinary, this red sparkling wine is a must! Produced with mostly indigenous grapes using the Charmat method, this bubbly surprises with its versatility. Varying in style, this Spumante is available in either a dry, sweet and light, or bold profile. Lambrusco is a very old wine that used to be produced by the ancient Etruscans—centuries of expertise in your glass!
Franciacorta DOCG from Lombardy in Milan
Parisians may have Champagne, but the Milanese have Franciacorta! This wine, produced on the southern shores of Lake Iseo, shares the most similarities with the Champagne terroir. It is important to note that it also uses the same winemaking technique, the Méthode Traditionnelle, as well as some of the same grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir (called Pinot Nero in Italy) and Pinot Blanc (Bianco). Worth a detour for any sparkling wine lover.
Asti from Piedmont
If you want something softer and lighter, then look no further than the famous Asti Spumante. Produced in the southeastern part of Piedmont, but mostly centered around the towns of Asti and Alba, this is one of Italy’s largest appellations. Made from the Moscato grape and using the Charmat method, you will find these wines to be sweet and low in alcohol, ideal for sipping as an apéritif.
Last but not least, the Trento DOC is produced in the far north of Italy. Using the Méthode Classique, this appellation requires the same grapes as Franciacorta, but adds Pinot Meunier to its mix. The particularity of this appellation is how strict the requirements are to produce it. Indeed, only regional techniques are permitted, which results in a wine that distinguishes itself by its delicate and rich nose, followed by an elegant and rounded mouthfeel.