When it comes to serious bubbles fermented in the bottle, Italy has come a long way. Thanks to better vineyard management and site selection, as well as warmer, drier summers that contribute to the perfect ripening of the grapes, producers throughout Italy now produce more focused and complex sparkling wines.
The most fascinating iterations are made without sugar. Dosaggio Zero, called Natural or Pas Dosé, are dry and precise wines that combine perfect fruitiness, liveliness and breathtaking precision. They are incredibly suitable for food, with the structure and freshness that goes with every dish. And because they are not enriched and are not weighed with a dose or extra sugar, these chiselled bottles express their individual terroir beautifully.
Dosing is the last step in the traditional method of making sparkling wine, called metodo classicico in Italy. Yeast and sugar are added to the still wine, which is then bottled with a metal crown cap. The yeast ferments the sugar into alcohol, creating bubbles that contain natural carbon dioxide. In addition, the bottles are made with used yeast, called wasp, which gives these warm flavors the crust of the bread or brioche.
The yeast is then eliminated through a process called frustration. The last step before blocking the bottle is to add a dose. The classic dosage is a mixture of wine and sugar, but with non-sparkling dosaggios manufacturers only add wine to fill the bottle, because a small amount of wine may fall out when the bottle spoils.
Thirst for drought
The Dosajo Zero can contain up to three grams per litre of residual sugar (RS). By comparison: The extra and extra gross values are respectively zero to six grams PC per litre and up to 12 grams per litre.
In the United States, champagne lovers are beginning to be attracted to drier styles, especially in restaurants before the coronavirus pandemic.
In some markets, especially in big cities, we have a growing thirst for extra insolence and Dozaggio zero, especially in restaurants, although, of course, these days unfortunately not so much, – says Giovanni Kaveggia, brand manager of Winebow Imports.
It is more difficult to control the sales of Dosaggio zero in wine shops or on national markets. The selection of sparkling wines is often dominated by the big brands, explains Caveggia, but the drier style of the smaller producers spreads in the shops of the gastronomic markets.
Would you like to try these dry, structured Italian bubbles? Here are some of the names and manufacturers you should look for.
Cellar in Trento/Getty
Trentino is one of the most popular regions in Italy for the production of sparkling wines, today known under the collective trademark Trentodoc. The vineyards in the mountains of the region are located at an altitude of 656-2952 feet above sea level and benefit from plenty of sunshine. Warm days and cool nights contribute to optimal ripening of the grapes, which is very important if the producers miss the dosage.
One of the first to release Dosaggio Zero was Mazo Martis with his 2009 Riserva Dosaggio Zero.
Climate change has made better ripening of the grapes possible until today and in our hilly region, says Antonio Stelzer, owner/winemaker of Maso Martis. This allows us to obtain a more difficult and balanced sparkling wine, without having to intervene with high doses of sugar.
Even the historic manufacturer Ferrari has been reducing doses throughout the range for years. The Dosaggio Zero vintage is the result of years of experimentation. Wine is expected to be produced in the United States in 2021.
Keeping an eye on the producers: Ferrari, Maso Martis.
Click here for the latest reviews of sparkling wines from Trento.
This is another name known for the meto-classical bubbles, which are mainly produced with Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. The region is located in Lombardy and is also home to some of Italy’s first zero-dozaggios.
In my experience, there is certainly more interest in drier wines, especially from smaller producers, says Silvano Bresccianini, executive vice president of Barone Pizzini and chairman of the local consortium. Few people understand that here in Franciacorte we grow almost everything. ”
The first Dosaggio Zero label was Nature 2006.
According to Brescianini, perfect grape ripening is not a problem in northern Italy, but the grape press knowledge developed over the last ten years has enabled us to produce wines with greater elegance and grace.
Keeping an eye on the producers: Baron Pizzini, Berlukki, Ca’ del Bosco.
Click here for the latest review of Franciacorte.
Alta Lang Sparkling Wine / Getty
The Italian tradition of the Methodo Classico has its origins in this part of Piedmont thanks to its proximity to France in the 1800s. Production fell in the 1970s, but began to recover in the mid-1990s, culminating in the appointment of Alta Lang in 2002.
In addition to the know-how of the winegrowers, many of whom also produce Barolo and Barbaresco, the hilly terrain and limestone soils of the area are ideal for Pinot Nero and Chardonnay in its eternal bubbles of Alta Lang.
Ten years ago we decided to create our 100 Mesi Pas Dosé Riserva to produce a wine that is truly reflected in the area and intended to be enjoyed with food, explains Enrico Viglierchio, General Manager of Banfi, a company with interests in Piedmont and Tuscany.
Cuvée Aurora Pas Dosé 100 Mesi Riserva will be introduced in the United States in 2021.
Keeping an eye on the producers: Banfi, Enrico Serafino.
Click here for the latest Alta Lang reviews
This name, little known in Veneto, is a cult among lovers of sparkling wine because of the Metodo Classico. These line wines are made from local Durella grapes grown on volcanic soils and have razor-sharp acidity and transparency, as well as ripe fruit.
Because it is very acidic, Durella is one of the few grape varieties that, when fully ripened, is ideal for making sparkling wines, says Giacomo Danese, International Sales Manager of Corte Moschina.
In order to better interpret the pronounced mineral notes in the wines of this region, Durello producers often reduce the dosage or abandon it altogether.
In recent years we have seen major changes in the American palace, according to the Danes. They no longer want exaggerated sweetness, but are looking for dry wines and dozaggio zero.
Keeping an eye on the producers: Corte Moschina, Fattori.
Click here for the latest reviews of Lessini Durello.
Pinot Nero collects in the Pavillon Oltrept / Getty
Located at the furthest point of Lombardy, in the province of Pavia, the beautiful hills south of the Po have a long history of viticulture. It is also the Italian stronghold of Pinot Nero, and the grapes have been grown here since the beginning of the 19th century, when the region was under Napoleon’s French occupation.
At the beginning of the 1900s, the area in which Pinot Nero sparkling wine is produced had already produced a considerable quantity of traditional Pinot Nero wines, and it still forms the basis of the Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).
For direct versions or entry options, Pinot Nero should make up 70% of the final blend. Although the figure for Pinot Nero DOCG Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG is at least 85%, many producers only use grapes and produce wines with a fascinating blend of elegance and rigor. A bottle of Dutzaggio Zero is spicy and refined.
Keeping an eye on the producers: Oltrenero, Moratti Castello di Cicognola.
Click here for the latest reviews of the Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico.
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