Unlike Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Trentodoc slips off the tongue of an Anglo-Saxon speaker very easily. Unfortunately, however, this made-up word is rather harsh-sounding to the Italian ear and although there is a cleverness in its construction (Trento + DOC), it does rather scupper any hopes the producers may have of promotion to DOCG!…

When the Trento DOC was established in 1993 it was the first DOC since Franciacorta (in 1967) to specify that its sparkling wines must be made by metodo classico, despite the ubiquitous “maybe spumante” clauses clogging up a morass of optional styles in over 100 DOCs. It was “rebranded” as Trentodoc in 2007, but this was more of a marketing ploy and the technical requirements remained the same (must be made solely with Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Meunier or Pinot Nero grapes, with at least 15 months on lees for non-vintage, 24 months for vintage and 36 months for Riserva).

Mountain viticulture


The locals claim that TRENTODOC is the only mountain sparkling wine, but there are others in the Jura, Savoie and, if I put my thinking cap on, I might come up with a few others (such as Domaine Karanika in Greece or Tumbarumba, Alpine Valleys, Macedon, Strathbogie Ranges and Pyrenees in Australia), but not one of them is a geographically cohesive sparkling wine region with a significant number of producers annually demonstrating a world-class sparkling wine potential, whereas TRENTODOC most certainly is.


The snow-capped Dolomite mountains represent the most influential factor in determining the quality and style of TRENTODOC’s sparkling wines. Although there are differences to the wines that are produced higher up on steep slopes compared to those that are grown on the valley floors, the most dominant mountain influence is it diurnal regime, which affect vineyards in both locations. This is the same principle that makes viticulture possible on the northern montagne of Montagne de Reims in Champagne, but the Dolomite’s diurnal regime is several orders higher. Extreme differences in temperature between peak day-time highs and night-time lows are caused by the nightly reversal of wind direction. This takes chilly mountain air from the snowy caps down the mountainside and over the vineyards, whether they are on slopes or flatter valley floors. When the grapes are suddenly immersed in chilly air their metabolism stops in its tracks, preserving the acidity above and beyond the level found in the same variety at the same point of ripeness elsewhere. The reverse happens during the day, when the wind again changes, this time bringing in warmer air from lower elevations, allowing the ripening process to continue.

The Tasting

I was so seriously impressed by the results of my tasting that I am determined to return sooner rather than later to look more deeply at this region and its wines. I need to get into the valleys and up the slopes. I need to visit the best-performing wineries to taste more deeply at each one, but also to continue tasting centrally, to keep an eye open on the others and see whether the odd successful wine is a one-off or a sign of things to come. And I need to taste recently disgorged bottles and magnums, as I did in Franciacorta, to get a better grasp of not only the current quality of TRENTODOC, but also an indication of its future potential.

However, when I hit a region with so little time to spare that I barely have the chance to visit just one winery (that being Ferrari, who won the highest trophy at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships – CSWWC – in 2014) and yet find no less than 100 wines waiting for me at a centralised tasting that was scheduled at the last moment for one of the very few days between Prowein and Vinitaly, I know that the producers are proud enough about what they are doing to put any petty squabbles to one side. In certain other regions, not just in Italy, where I have been forced by circumstances to do something similar, a number of producers have boycotted my tasting, but not in TRENTODOC. Rotari, whose performance at the CSWWC 2014 was second only to Ferrari, might be forgiven for feeling ignored, but if they did, it was certainly not evident, either in the wines they happily submitted to the centralised tasting or in their charming, happy and friendly company at a dinner with some of the producers that evening.

It is always heartening to see commercial competitors pull together for the collective good, and the producers of TRENTODOC have every right to be proud of what they are doing because they are doing it very well. Their region not only has impressive terroir, it has impressive producers and impressive wines too. Not that everything is perfect, Just impressive. There is always room for improvement, as I allude to in my bullet-pointed positives and negatives of the tasting:

  • Almost 40% of the wines were in my opinion capable of winning a Silver or Gold medal at the next competition.
  • Proportionately, Pinot Nero (both blanc de noirs and rosé) was the most successful grape, with five out of six potential Silver or Gold medal wines.
  • Qualitatively, Chardonnay the most successful grape, with 4 potential Golds and 3 potential Silver-Golds.
  • 2008 was the most successful vintage and 2011 the most disappointing, but it is debatable whether this was due to the intrinsic quality of the years or simply because six years is the optimum ageing for TRENTODOC and three years is not enough.
  • The older the vintage, the more polarised the wines, rating as either Gold medal potential or failure.
  • The best non-vintage blends were good, but not top, with more work to be done as far as the age, depth and variety of reserve wine is concerned.
  • Common faults included heavy-handed malolactic, DMDS in clear-glass bottles, oxidation and fixed-sulphur faults, particularly H2S and mercaptans, but most of the unsuccessful wines were technically correct, just dull and boring.
  • The dosaggio zero (brut nature) was the least successful style by a vast margin (just one of 15 submitted was Silver medal potential).
    • Unlike Franciacorta, dosaggio zero is NOT a natural style in TRENTODOC, but it is early days for this type of sparkling wine in the Trento region and producers should take heart in the fact that it is also not easy to produce brut nature in Champagne.
    • The “trick” of dosaggio zero is not simply to have enough fruit and or bottle-age to make any dosage superfluous, but to achieve this with freshness and a mousse that is silky as soon as it is released because this style is prone to oxidative development, thus consumers should be encouraged to drink, not keep, the wine. Producers should consider all or some of the following techniques to pull of such a “trick”:
      • Always produce a vintage (this style is difficult, so if you do not always pull it off, it is better for consumers to put that down to the vintage, rather than think that a non-vintage blend is inconsistent).
      • Do not produce dosaggio zero every year. Choose only warmer years that produce more forward wines. Use this as a selling point, making dosaggio zero a more exclusive, sought-after product that customers must wait and pay a premium for.
      • Minimum of settling, maximum retention of solids, deliberately oxidise the juice for 48 hours to build up oxidative resistance.
      • Do not use malolactic, even if the house-style is dependent on malolactic. The dosaggio zero cuvée is not only from a warmer year, but needs to be aged longer than average and non-malolactic will help to retain exceptional freshness in such wines.
      • Avoid oak character, but age up to 50% of the wine on Gros lees in large, used oak casks (at least 9,000 litres in capacity) for a minimum of 10 months.
      • Do not bottle until at least 10 months after the harvest. Experiment with extending this lead time, the idea being to “season” the wines with some developed tertiary aromas while maintaining maximum freshness.
      • Disgorge the wines just 3-6 months before release for maximum freshness.
      • Adjust the bottling liquor to produce a low-pressure of just 4 bar. This gives the mousse a softness that would otherwise be impossible to achieve with just 3-6 months post-disgorgement ageing.
      • Vintaged: for critics and consumers this means that we know when the next cuvée arrives and can judge it for ourselves without fear that a new non-vintaged blend (as most others are) being foisted on us; for Roederer they can wait for the next appropriate vintage without feeling forced to produce the next cuvee.

The Wines

The one thing that any taster cannot be distracted by when attempting to taste 100 sparkling wines is the service of the wine. The tasting order has to be agreed in advance and the wines must keep coming. If there is a delay, the taster’s natural rhythm will be lost, disrupting the concentration and possibly causing one or more inconsistencies in the taster’s evaluations. It is therefore key for the sommelier to gauge the speed of the tasting with accuracy and, making allowances for the odd wine that could require longer most to evaluate, prepare the bottles in advance. In Trento, Roberto Anesi (who owns the El Pael restaurant at the ski resort of Val di Fassa in the Dolomites) was my sommelier. Roberto performed this service as smoothly as anyone has ever done and that is no mean feat, as I have had the privilege of being served by some of the world’s finest sommeliers over the last 35 years. Everything flowed like clockwork. I hardly knew he was there most of the time, which is the signature of a great sommelier. However, if I needed to check a fact, Roberto’s local knowledge was flawless.

Abate Nero Abate Nero Brut Domini Nero Millesimato 2009
TRENTODOC; 100% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
This has the expected richness of Pinot Nero and exceptional elegance of balance, with a very fine mousse. Bronze-Silver?

Bellaveder Riserva Brut 2010
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 13%
Just so fresh, light and elegant, with classic structure and fine, tapering line of fruit on the finish. Solid Silver medal potential.

Bellaveder Riserva Nature 2010
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 13%
Some gunpowder aromas on nose. What a lovely depth this wine has without any noticeable weight. Very classy structure and balance, with nice, clean, well-focused richness of super yeast-complexed fruit on the finish. Silver-Gold?

Cantina Mori Colli Zugna Terra di San Mauro NV
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12%
Chock-a-block full of very rich Chardonnay fruit, but not at all heavy, thanks in part to the very smooth, creamy mousse, which lifts the balance and leaves a rich creaminess on the aftertaste. Bronze-Silver?

Cantine Monfort Rosé NV
TRENTODOC; 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
Clean, crisp, fresh with good clarity of fruit. Easy to drink. Bronze-Silver?

Cantine Monfort Riserva 2008
TRENTODOC; 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
Very fresh, lemony, Chardonnay fruit dominating, with a hint of peppery-lemon-grass spiciness on the aftertaste. Solid Silver medal potential.

Cembra Cantina di Montagna Doss 24 Brut NV
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
Very fresh, crisp, citrus aroma. Classically structured, yeast-complexed Chardonnay fruit floating over a lovely pincushion mousse. A wine of elegance and some finesse. Solid Silver medal potential.

Cembra Cantina di Montagna Oro Rosso 48 mesi NV
TRENTODOC; 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
It’s the lovely creamy mousse melts into delicious fruit that makes this wine stand out. Bronze-Silver?

Cesarini Sforza Tridentum Brut 2009
TRENTODOC; 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
This is a beautiful, elegantly balanced, deliciously fruit-driven sparkling wine. Not big or weighty, but a wine of great delicacy and finesse. Potential Gold medal quality!

Cesarini Sforza Tridentum Brut Rosé 2008
TRENTODOC; 100% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
A gorgeous rosé oozing with delicious, beautifully smooth and tremendously classy fruit. Smoothness is the key quality here. More potential Gold medal quality!

Cesarini Sforza Tridentum Riserva Extra Brut 2007
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
Yet another Cesarini Sforza wine that shouts Gold. I have been blown away by the TRENTODOC from this producer. I have not mentioned failures from other producers, but I do not think that Cesarini Sforza will mind me singling them out to say that of the five wines submitted, I found four to be potential Gold medal winners and the one failure was not bad, just a bronze, which might be a failure in the CSWWC, but is not a failure in the worst sense. This Riserva has finesse, richness, beautiful balance and such a honed focus that it tapers into an almost endless finish.

Cesarini Sforza Aquila Reale Riserva Brut 2006
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
Normally I do not like overt oakiness in a sparkling wine, but this has good oak and it suits the Trento fruit, which has a delicacy and finesse that shines through. Pure class! Potential Gold medal quality!

Conti Wallenburg Cuvée del Conte Fondatore 2008
TRENTODOC; 70% Pinot Nero, 30% Chardonnay; 12%
What a lovely, zesty, fresh, vibrant sparkling wine with enticing, yeast-complexed fruit aromas on the nose and throughout the palate. Silver-Gold?

Endrizzi Pian Castello Brut Riserva 2010
TRENTODOC; 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Nero; 13%
Rich, yet elegant fruit, with a long, clean and carefully focused palate. Solid Silver medal potential.

Endrizzi Pian Castello Brut Rosé 2008
TRENTODOC; 100% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
It is the lovely creamy-smooth fruit with notes of mandarin that make this wine stand out. Bronze-Silver?

Ferrari Maximum Brut NV
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
A creamy-cum-slightly-oxidative style with gently rich and creamy, yeast-complexed fruit. Bronze-Silver?

Ferrari Perlé 2008
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
This has a completeness few other TRENTODOC have, yet there is a lightness, freshness, elegance and finesse that makes it potential Gold medal quality. The 2007 vintage of this cuvée not only won a Gold medal at the CSWWC 2014, but also walked away with the Best Italian Sparkling Wine trophy!

Ferrari Perlé Nero 2007
TRENTODOC; 100% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
A truly complex, very-very rich, oak-fermented sparkling with that is not at all heavy, just intense. Potential Gold medal quality!

Gaierhof Siris NV
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
I could nit-pick the finish and aftertaste, but gunpowder aromas are very promising and I love the nicely structured, well-balanced fruit on palate. Solid Silver medal potential.

Mach Riserva del Fondatore 2010
TRENTODOC; 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Nero; 13%
A touch of oak really does lift this wine, very elegant, long. Solid Silver medal potential.

Madonna delle Vittorie Brut Millesimato 2009
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
This has beautiful fruit with notes of gunpowder developing into toastiness and plenty of richness with balancing finesse. Silver-Gold?

Maso Martis Maso Martis Brut NV
TRENTODOC; 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
I would love to know the base year and construction of reserve wines in this lovely blend, which has a soft and silky mousse supporting fine fruit. Very elegant. Solid Silver medal potential.

Maso Martis Maso Martis Brut Rosé NV
TRENTODOC; 100% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
This is brimming with so much fresh, clean and very easy drinking fruit that it could so be mistaken for an enjoyable but relatively simple rosé, but if you pause to consider, there some fine, yeast-complexed aromas developing. This is a very good TRENTOC that will get even better with a year or two cellaring. Solid Silver medal potential.

Maso Martis Maso Martis Brut Riserva 2008
TRENTODOC; 70% Pinot Nero, 30% Chardonnay; 12.5%
Wonderfully rich and yet precise fruit. Clean, focused, extremely intense and long … it just goes on and on forever! Silver-Gold?

Maso Martis Madame Martis Brut Riserva 2004
TRENTODOC; 70% Pinot Nero, 25% Chardonnay, 5% Pinot Meunier; 13%
A gracefully aged, beautifully mature TRENTODOC with wonderful, toast-infused fruit of classic richness and finesse. Potential Gold medal quality!

Methius Brut Riserva 2009
TRENTODOC; 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Nero; 13%
With such intriguing lemony-terpenic aromas, this very intense and long tasting sparkling wine might well be someone’s Gold, but it is a bit too rich on the aftertaste, thus a potential Silver as far as I’m concerned.

Moser Francesco 51,151 Brut NV
TRENTODOC; 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
The first bottle was slightly corked, but thankfully the second was absolutely clean. Although great acids are the defining feature, this is a wine that is best enjoyed as young and as fresh as possible. Solid Silver medal potential.

Pedrotti Brut Rosé Millesimato 2011
TRENTODOC; 70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
Lovely fruit, a good line of acidity, a fine, fresh mousse, with refreshing crispness on the finish. Solid Silver medal potential.

Pedrotti Riserva 111 Pas Dosé 2007
Trentodoc; 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
This might not be top-top, but it is good to very good, has a classic structure and elegant fruit with a freshness that belies seven-plus years of age. Bronze-Silver?

Pisoni Brut Millesimato 2010
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
This has plenty of fresh fruit aromas and is clean and fresh on palate. Whilst it might be lacking some yeast complexity, it is an elegant, fruit-driven style and will develop more complex bottle aromas with a year or two in the cellar. Bronze-Silver?

Rotari Brut NV
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
A distinctive lemony, almost terpenic, aroma on nose and in the fruit on the palate, which has lovely richness, clean lines and fine focus. Solid Silver medal potential.

Rotari Cuvée 28+ NV
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
Another distinctive lemony, almost terpenic, styled sparkling wine that has a good richness of fruit, but could be more focused on finish. Bronze-Silver?

Rotari AlpeRegis Rosé Brut Millesimato 2011
TRENTODOC; 90% Pinot Nero, 10% Chardonnay; 12.5%
An absolutely delightful balance between richness and lightness, but not as outstanding as the 2010, which won Best-in-Class TRENTODOC rosé at the CSWWC 2014. Bronze-Silver?

Rotari Brut Riserva 2010
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 12.5%
A lovely, delightful and very elegant sparkling wine, with fresh, dainty fruit and a serious finish that is beginning to build yeast-complexed aromas. Silver-Gold?

Rotari Flavio Brut Riserva 2007
TRENTODOC; 100% Chardonnay; 13%
A classy sparkling wine with rich yet extremely elegant fruit, a very smooth balance and outstanding freshness on the finish. Immaculately preserved TRENTODOC. Silver-Gold?

San Michael San Michael Brut Riserva 2008
TRENTODOC; 55% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Nero; 12.5%
Very fine and tight, long, tapering fruit, zesty-rich. This will continue to age gracefully for another 2-3 years at least. Silver-Gold?

  1. Final word The Grana Trentino provided at the tasting (and kept a safe distance away!) was fabulous and that is from someone who adores 36 month matured Parmigiano-Reggiano Vecchio. Nevertheless, after 100 sparkling wines I needed lunch! For those who want a bonne adresse in Trento where traditional local food is cooked beautifully with a modern twist, I strongly recommend “Osteria Le due Spade”.
By | 2015-04-11T20:24:29+00:00 April 11th, 2015|Articles|0 Comments

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