TrentoDOC Focus 1. Ferrari Perlé Bianco Riserva 2009
I'm going to be taking a look at a number of wines from Trento in Northern Italy over the coming weeks. The appellation TrentoDOC (Trento+DOC...geddit?) covers Traditional Method wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero and Pinot Meunier. It's really quite a different region to Franciacorta, Italy's best-known sparkling wine region; vineyards sit at a wide range of altitudes across the valley, enjoying a pronounced diurnal temperature variation thanks to cool mountain air descending from the Dolomites at night. This preserves acidity and elongates the season (especially at higher altitudes). Producers seem to be quite proud of their altitudes, proudly displaying them on their bottlings where they can - that tells you something!
Ferrari are by far the oldest, largest and best-known producer in TrentoDOC, and the only one (to date) to have developed much of an international reputation. Seems like a good place to start (see this earlier review of the excellent Perlé Rosé 2012)
Ferrari Perlé Bianco Riserva 2009
100% Chardonnay from the Lunelli family's own vineyards. 8 years on lees, disgorged in 2018 (not sure of the month). Quite a deep colour. This wine is a great example of why fizz needs to breathe; it spent its first two hours being very good but not quite 'together'. At hour three it decided to wake up, with some lovely developed aromas emerging and the palate suddenly settling into something lucid and integrated. Drink slowly folks...or even better keep for a few years and it might drink that well from the offset.
Pure candied lemon upon popping the cork. After a while a succession of shades of fruit step forward; some sweet orange flashes like passionfruit (yes...!) and tangerine, fragrant fresh apricot and (with air) apple turnover and quince. There is a ripe herbal quality of rosemary honey and anise/tarragon which casts a lovely light on the fruit too, but most interestingly there is this lurking savoury element which keeps popping up and confusing me. I wrote 'smoked chilli' which sounds a bit insane and gives the impression that this is a much odder wine than it is, but...let's say cayenne pepper. I like it.
It seems quite loose on the palate at first, hung around this nice sappy sweet apricot and lemony line of fruit. After time some amaretti biscuit and quince richness pops up. It wears its lees ageing quite lightly with some elegant lemon curd creaminess, but I love the utterly transparent and perfectly-judged dosage (whatever it is....low! 4g/l ish?). A touch of hazelnut skin grip on the finish. I think it is lovely stuff - it misses some of the tension and backbone of truly great Blanc de Blancs for me (warm vintage perhaps?) but makes for delicious drinking. 91