Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France


Trentino – traditional method sparkling wine and more 

IMG_2069The Trentino region, or sub-region, is the southern, culturally Italian half of the administrative unit Trentino-Alto Adige in central-northern Italy, north-east of Lake Garda.  It is a very diverse zone with interesting local grape varieties, important sparkling wine production and sweet wines.  There is some valley floor viticulture (though here apples are the dominant crop) plus hillside grape growing under the overhang of the Dolomites. 

Although we are in the far north of Italy the climate is an interesting blend of warmer and cooler influences.  The spectacular mountains protect the region from cold weather from the north, while warm air arrives from the south and from Lake Garda in particular.  During the growing season, hot air can build up on the plain and lower slopes due to the containing effect of the mountains. But, critically, cool air descends at night from the mountains slowing down ripening and retaining acidity in the fruit. It is, therefore, no surprise that the agricultural economy here is based on apples and grapes. 

Trentino is a region of small growers which an average holding just one hectare. It is therefore hardly surprising that production here is dominated by the cooperatives which supply both good everyday wines and some stars too. Cavit (4,500 growers, produces 60% of the entire region’s wine) and Mezzacorona (1,600 growers) are the two giants.  However, there are also innovative and high-quality private wine companies too. 

The wine production of Trentino can be neatly divided into two parts:

1. an important sparkling wine production, trademarked as Trentodoc, which produces bottle-fermented sparkling wine predominantly from Chardonnay but with some Pinot Noir as well. These wines are the ‘sparkling wines from the mountains’ which are well recognised in Italy and are beginning to be promoted around the world. The two big cooperatives also produce important volumes of Trentodoc: Cavit via its Altemasi brand and Mezzacorona via Rotari.  

2. Still wines from a range of international grape varieties (Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay together account for 60% of all plantings, Müller Thurgau, Merlot) and local varieties, especially the red Teroldego which makes the emblematic red wine of the region. 

And before we jump into all this, let’s enjoy the remarkable landscape.  

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