Paolo Dorigati is a young winemaker of the fifth generation in a family firm which goes back to 1858. We visited him primarily because of the success of Methius, the company’s single sparkling wine made since 1986. Trentino had become an important area for sparkling wine following the pioneering work of Giulio Ferrari (no relation to the car maker but the name can’t exactly hurt!) back in 1902 who decided to create Chardonnay-based bottle-fermented sparkling wine in Trento. But we also got the chance to taste some other wines, especially Teroldego.
Methius is a classic blend of 60 % Chardonnay and 40 % Pinot Nero. The Chardonnay is partly from their own vineyards and partly bought in (to have fruit from a range of soils), grown at an altitude of 350-500 metres above sea level. One third of it is vinified in new barriques to add some tannins and oak-related flavours. For the second fermentation in the bottle, three different yeast strains are used, two from Trentino and one from Champagne, which they believe work at different speeds. The newly bottled wines are left outside for 18 hours or so until they have achieved one bar of pressure and then brought into the cool cellar which is to be their home for the next five years. The second fermentation proceeds slowly for one to two months.
The commitment to quality continues in the cellar. As Paolo explains, with only one sparkling wine and five years on the yeast, it makes sense (of a kind) to work entirely by hand. So you see the pupitres on the right and – in order to prevent a crust forming in the bottles and to get the autolysis to work to the full – they move every bottle every year, give it a shake and put it back in a stack against a different wall! Paolo reckons that each bottle is moved by hand 55 times before it is sold. The only concession to others’ expertise is that the disgorgement and refilling of bottles is done by a visiting lorry service which specialises in this. As usual, the completed bottles are given a further short rest of up to six months before they go on the market. The approach is both traditional and very astute. We tasted the wine in the delightful setting of the winery’s garden in the warm spring sunshine – that has got to add a Parker point or two!
Methius Trento DOC Brut Riserva 2006, disgorged 2011, around 5g of residual sugar. The wine was a classic pale straw colour with hints of ochre or gold with attractive fine bubbles. It had a rich, harmonious nose with peach and some tropical notes, which overlays the bready notes. In the mouth is starts freshly and then there is a complex palate, again rich and harmonious, but balanced. Of the many top sparkling wines we tasted around Easter 2012 this was definitely up there with the best of them – as confirmed by a string of ‘tre bicchieri’ awards over the years.
Rebo Trentino DOC 2009 – Rebo is a local grape, a crossing of Merlot and Teroldego, only grown in Trentino. It is soft, fruity and has low tannins – rather like its parents. Pleasant drinking which has been aged for 12 months in the large oak barrels which are prominent in the winery. Quite a fruity nose, aged fruit on the palate, very light bodied, low tannins but good acidity.
Teroldego is the local red grape par excellence. Paolo explains very clearly that it has three main characteristics: deep ruby colour, raised acidity and intense fruitiness (blackberry and raspberry). The Teroldego Rotaliano DOC 2010 certainly fits this bill, grown on fast draining clay/sand over gravel and has to be irrigated. Initially perfumed notes, dried and fresh fruit, good length, moderate tannins and excellent acidity. The more grown up wine is Diedri Teroldego Rotaliano DOC Superiore Riserva 2009. It is aged in barriques rather than the large casks, the fruit have been dried out for a touch of concentration for 4-5 days. It was just about opaque in depth of colour, had a velvety texture, higher tannins and an enhanced version of the intense blackberry fruit. I asked about its ageing potential and Paolo generously produced a bottle of 2004: now a beautiful garnet edge to it, with the acidity, fruit and tannins now well balanced, very subtle fruit with some ‘conserved fruit’ notes, fine tannins – somewhere between very good and excellent.
Many thanks to Paolo for a splendid visit. We hope there are many more generations of Dorigati to build on your current success. The estate also produces two Cabernet based wines, a Rosé from Lagrein, a Pinot Grigio and a still Chardonnay Riserva.
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