The biddies stay on the bubble train and turn their attention to Italian sparkling wine. Like there is more than Cava in Spain, there is also way more than Prosecco in Italy – including one gentleman who ages his wines hundreds of feet below sea level on the ocean floor. Grab a glass of something sparkling and tune in!


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Wine Press: Great Italian sparkling wines other than Prosecco –

Discover Franciacorta, Italy’s Hidden Gem | Wine Enthusiast Magazine

Asti Spumante (Winemaking, Price, How To Buy, History) (

5 Things to Know About Trentodoc: Italy’s Best Kept, Sparkling Secret | Alcohol Professor

What Is Lambrusco Wine? (

Lambrusco Wines Worth Drinking | Wine Folly

Sparkling Winos, The Sparkling Wines of Italy

NY Times | This Wine Goes Well With Fish

Image Credit: Bloomberg

Study Notes for Italian Sparkling Wine


  • Can only be called Prosecco if it comes from a particular place – there are nine provinces in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions
  • Prior to 2009 the grape used to make Prosecco was called “prosecco” but its now called Glera due to winemakers wanting to trademark the name prosecco for the wine region
  • Prosecco DOC and DOCG
  • Dominant flavors are apple, honeysuckle, peach, melon and pear


  • A sparkling wine made in the Asti region in Piedmont (northwestern Italy)
  • Asti sparkling wines are sweet, low-alcohol dessert wines
  • Made from moscato bianco grapes
    • Most widely cultivated varietal of Italy
    • Has its origins in Greece
  • Sparkling Asti (or asti spumante) was first made in 1870 by winemaker Carlo Gancia who studied Champagne production methods in France
  • Was introduced to the US at the end of WW2 by soldiers who had developed a taste for the sweet wine accompanying desserts
  • In 1993 – gained a DOCG status (highest rating for an Italian wine appellation)
  • Made using the Charmat method (metodo Italiano or tank)
  • Moscoto d’Asti vs. Asti Spumante
    • Both are made in Asti, both are DOCG and both are CHarmat
    • Moscato d’Asti has a much lower alcohol content (5.5% ABV)
  • Aged for 2 months  once bottled and is best drunk as young as possible
  • Popular brands include Cinzano Asti, Martini & Rossi


  • A type of sparkling wine from Lombardy near Milan
  • Made using the “traditional method”
  • Tend to be drier and less fruity
  • Only 11% of Franciacorta’s annual production of 17.4 million bottles is exported around the globe
  • Has been compared to Champagne for quite some time because the two wines use the same bottle-fermentation method and primary grape varieties but that’s it
  • The name is a derivation of Curtes Francae which refers to the zone’s 13th-century tax-free trade status
  • Has a amphitheater-shaped growing zone that was created by retreating glaciers which left behind mineral-rich soils
  • A very organic area – winds from the nearby mountain help keep grapes healthy and assists producers who practice organic viticulture
    • Barone Pizzini was the first Franciacorta estate to switch to organic viticulture in 1998
    • Today nearly 70% of the denominations 120ish cellars are either certified organic or in the conversion process
    • This gives Franciacorta the highest percentage of organic producers of any denomination in Italy
  • The soils keep the wines in check – Mattia Vezzola, a winemaker at Bellavista Estate says the “loose morainic soils (fromed from glacial debris) ensures Franciacorta is never too high in alcohol 
  • Chardonnay is the leader of Franciacorta, accounting for more than 80% of the around 7,000 acres of the denominations vineyards then followed by Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco
  • Global warming has started to decrease the acidity level of the wines so some producers have begun working with Erbamat which is a rare grape native to the Brescia area that has helped raise acidity levels 
  • Saten – a softer, creamier sparkling wine made exclusively from white grapes and a lower bottle pressure
    • Registered trademark of Franciacorta
    • Mostly chardonnay but sometimes has pinot bianco
  • Rose must have a minimum of 35% Pinot Nero
  • Nonvintage must spend at least 18 months on lees; rose and saten at least 25 months; vintage 30 months and riservas 60 months
  • Dosage (a mix of base wine and sugar added after disgorging)
    • Many use zero dosage in bottlings and can be labeled as Pas Dose, Dosaggio Zero, Dosage Zero, Brut Nature


  • Old commercial slogan – “Riunite, it tastes so fine; Riunite, pure and natural wine, Riunite on ice, Riunitie so nice, Riunite!” (from the 80s)
    • Became associated with the region in general by US standards
    • This style – sweet, fruit driven, and “one dimensional” – is not how all Lambruscos are
  • A sparkling red wine from th Emilia-Romagna region and is broken into several appellations each of which has a sparkling wine with unique character
    • Emilia Romagna has a rich gastronomic history: Modena balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma, Mortadella
  • Lambrusco is a family of very old grape varieties native to Italy
    • Mentioned in De Agri Cultura in 160 BC by Cato
    • About 10 different varieties but the 4 highest quality ones are di Sorbara, Maestri, Grasparossa, Salamino (salami shaped bunches)
  • Lambrusco Reggiano DOC – produced from grapes throughout region
  • Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC – made from variety of the same name with up to 40% Salamino grapes
    • Lightest and most delicate 
  • Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetra DOC – Lambrusco Grasparossa (dryer and richer)
    • Boldest and darkest
  • Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce DOC – less common on the American market
  • Lambrusco Mantovano DOC – from Lombardy 
  • Very food friendly


  • Located in the Dolomite mountains of the Trentino-Alto Adige area (aka Trento DOC)
  • One article said its Italy’s best kept secret
  • One of the first classified wine regions in the world for traditional method sparkling wine (only Champagne and a couple of the Cremant regions predate it)
  • 80% of Trentodoc production is consumed in Italy
  • Made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier but may also have Pinot Blanc
  • Trento DOC is the official geographical classification for classic method sparkling wines but Trentodoc actually refers to a consortium of winemakers within Trento DOC who share common values within the region
    • The seal is available to any winemaker from the region who wants to participate in the cooperative, regardless of the size of operation 
  • Collective represents an almost socialist approach to raising the value of the entire region
    • Economically the region was previously a poor area and is dependent on wine production now for both sales and tourism 
    • “The idea was not to give advice in anyone’s production or marketing, the idea was how we could communicate to the world the special character of the territory that is reflected in our wine.” – Paolo Letrari


  • Fantini: a charmat method sparkling rose wine made from Aglianico grapes, Basilicata region
  • Donnafugata, Sicily: make a traditional method sparkling wine from chardonnay + pinot noir. Other sparkling wines also made in Sicily
  • Producer Baracchi in Tuscany makes vintage traditional method sparkling wines, white from 100% trebbiano and a rose from 100% sangiovese
  • Winemaker Bisson Abissi in Liguria is making traditional method sparkling wines that age under the sea!
    • Wine merchant piero lugano did not have enough space in his cellar, so decided to put it under the sea:
      • But Mr. Lugano makes an interesting argument: “It’s better than even the best underground cellar, especially for sparkling wine. The temperature is perfect, there’s no light, the water prevents even the slightest bit of air from getting in, and the constant counterpressure keeps the bubbles bubbly. Moreover, the underwater currents act like a crib, gently rocking the bottles and keeping the lees moving through the wine.” (The lees refer to yeast particles.)
      • 200 feet below sea