Wine of the Week: May 4
This week we’ll celebrate 400 weekly eWines with a bottle of bubbly (and mention one that’s new to Arkansas), with a discussion of where to find some of the greatest, the most popular and the best bargains.
Try a new wine this week!
Some of the world’s most popular sparkling wines are from Italy, and some of the world’s greatest sparkling wines are made there, too.
Just about any wine lover knows the term Asti Spumante, even if they might not have tasted it lately. Asti, a city in the northeastern state of Piedmont (“Piemonte” in Italian), has made sparkling wine (“Spumante”) from sweet moscato grapes, for decades before the current moscato craze currently sweeping the U.S. And many wine lovers have enjoyed Moscato d’Asti for a long time. It tends to have just a touch of sparkle, a style called “vivace”, or “lively”.
There is a second level of sparkle for wines that falls in between the fully sparkling spumantes and the barely sparkling vivaces. It’s called frizzante, or “fizzy”. That’s what the popular Rosa di Rosa is, and many of its Piedmontese cousins from Aqui Terme.
The great ones of Italy, though, are made to the west of Lake Garda in a region called Brescia. It’s a beautiful, prosperous part of the country, in the shadow of the Alps below Switzerland. Dotted with mountain lakes, sloping vineyards, castles and second homes for Milanese industrialists, they use the same grapes and methods as the French do in their Champagne region—and charge similar prices for it.
But the most popular Italian sparkling wine now is Prosecco, from northeastern Italy’s Veneto. Made from a grape of the same name, it’s crisp, light, dry and delightful, an uncomplicated, inexpensive pleasure that can make sparkling wine a popular choice for any occasion, not just special ones.
And recently I found a new twist on Prosecco, something of an upgrade in quality without an increase in price. Secco Italian Bubbles is a single vineyard wine made in the Prosecco region, but the grapes are primarily chardonnay and pinot noir—the same types used next door for those expensive “Italian Champagnes”. Secco (the Italian word for “dry”), is a collaboration between Charles Smith, of Kung Fu Girl Riesling fame, and Sorelle Casa (“Sisters Casa”), Ginevra and Olivia Casa—Italian sisters from the area. Secco Italian Bubbles comes in white (Brut Bianca), and rose (Brut Rose). Both retail for around $14.
Secco Italian Bubbles is blended primarily from chardonnay grapes in Italy’s Prosecco region.