The “Other” Italian Sparklers

The “Other” Italian Sparklers

Some of the most exciting sparkling wine is being made in Italy. Not just the justifiably famous Moscato di Asti and Prosecco, which seem to be perennially good, but sparklers from regions better known for their red wines are crafted in compelling styles that are considerably complex and delicious. Although the new breed of sparkling wine producers use Champagne as their model, these do not taste like Champagne. Winemakers have taken to playing with local varietals and the results have been sometimes spectacular, but almost always intriguing.

These represent some of my favorite producers and styles. While a different sparkling wine from the same region may be delicious, make sure you check with your local winemonger for recommendations.

Donati Trebbiano Frizzante, Emilia-Romagna 2009, $22
A light and cheerful bubbly that evokes flavors of melon and lime. This is one for the picnic basket.

Ca’ Rugate Spumante NV Brut Classico, Soave, $32
Like all wine from Ca’ Rugate, this scores big on both the complexity and deliciousness scales. Great purity and flavors of pear, butter and almonds.

Brunori Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2011, $21
Orchard aromas rush out of the glass; the wine is at once compelling and playful. Juicy yet dry, it’s a sparkler for the table.

Bellavista, $48
Refined mousse that rivals Champagne, an absolutely lovely expression of Chardonnay. It’s delicate but persistent and rich, with a labyrinth of creamy fruit and a prolonged finish.

Available at Madison’s finer wine stores. If unavailable, most purveyors will special order from their wholesalers if requested.

Michael Kwas is wine director at L’Etoile restaurant. He writes this column monthly.

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