Abate Nero – picturesque bubbles in honour of the Black Abbot

Abate Nero is one of the 78 companies now making Trento DOC, ie bottle-fermented sparking wine in Trentino. The name ‘black abbot’ is intended to remind one of a certain monk who is said to have played a role in the creation of Champagne; by contrast the product is very much a creature of Trentino viticulture.  There are no vines here – but after a forty year history they produce 60,000 bottles a year with the mainly Chardonnay grapes which local growers sell to them.   Even the cellar is squeezed into the side of a hill and forms part of a block of flats. And they make good wines at a very competitive price – the non vintage is €11.35, the vintage €15 and the riserva under €20.  It is a very focused, very quality conscious operation. And as it happened, in addition to a fine tasting, we had some real photographic successes here.

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The non vintage wines are kept for at least 15 months on the lees during second fermentation in the bottle, the vintage ‘Domini’ for 24-30 months and the Riserva ‘Cuvée del Abate’ (who else?) for at least 40 months.   Of course they choose the very best fruit for this last wine which has won many prizes over the years. 

We tasted the following wines (3rd April 2012):

Extra Brut – which could actually be Pas Dosé as it has no added sugar at 3.7g.  Pale lemon gold, fine central bubbles (see the picture below), medium intensity well integrated notes on nose, pleasant ripe fruit on palate, elegant

IMG_2108-002Brut – pleasant, highly drinkable perfumed fruit, residual sugar noticeable on the palate (6-7g) but tasted like more due to the ripe fruit, very good at the price. 

Rosé Brut – very pale rose or onion skin in colour, mostly Chardonnay but colour from Pinot Noir: fruity nose then from fuller bodied than the corresponding wine above, pale, light and elegant.

‘Millesimato’ Domini 2007 – 100% Chardonnay, marked richness on nose and palate, fresh and cooked apples, carries it richness well, very fine acidity, ‘tre bicchieri’ winner

Riserva Cuvée del Abate Brut 2005 – 85% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Nero, pronounced autolytic notes of brioche and yeast, more structured on the palate, great depth of flavour and some sweetness – the latter being somewhat magnified by this bottle being at about 15 centigrade.  Very impressive, excellent at the price. 

Abate Nero shows that Trentino does indeed have a vocation for sparkling wine modelled on Champagne – with some more mature Italian fruit of course.  It would be fascinating to taste them side by side with the Franciacorta wines … and those from other moderately warm countries. 

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