Thursday, November 12, 2020

Mosey over to Moser for some Italian bubbly

Hello friends! How you holding up out there?

Ringed by the Dolomite Mountains in northeastern Italy, the Trento growing region has proved over the last hundred years or so to be fertile ground for growing grapes to produce sparkling wines. In the mid 1980’s, the growers in this region began organizing themselves around sets of oenological standards.

The result of this organization bore fruit, pardon the pun, in 1993 when the Trento region received DOC status in Italy. As a refresher, DOC is short for Denominazione di Origine Controllata – which refers to the aforementioned standards.

DOC (and its fancier cousin, DOCG) have now been subsumed under the broader “DOP” category – and is still used for familiarity’s sake. However, the winemakers saw an opportunity to broaden their brand, and Trentodoc was born.

The grapes used to make Trentodoc sparkling wine —Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Meunier—are harvested by hand, and the “base wine” ages slowly in the bottle on the lees from a minimum of 15 months for a Brut to a minimum of 36 months for a Riserva, and upto 10 years for more refined and mature Trentodoc wines. Trentodoc is available as a white or rosé wine as Brut, Millesimato, and Riserva.

The other major production difference between Trentodoc and many other Italian sparkling wines like Prosecco is the method of carbonation. Most Italian sparklers use the Charmat Method for carbonating, which involves carbonating wine in tanks. Trentodoc sparklers exclusively use what is termed Metodo Classico, which is the same as the Methode Champenoise used in Champagne. In these wines, the wine is carbonated in the bottle while being periodically turned, and the expired yeast is disgorged at the end. (For a more detailed explanation, see here.) Wines made in Metodo Classico tend to be have more balanced flavors and have more carbonation than their Charmatted cousins.

Thanks to a well-timed visit from Drinkerbell the Wine Fairy, a bottle of Moser “51,151” Trentodoc Brut arrived at my door. After election stress, work from home craziness, and not a little cabin fever from lockdown, the Sweet Partner in Crime and I wanted an evening to kick back – and how better to do that than with bubbly, I ask you?

This wine’s nomenclature is an homage to Francesco Moser, a champion Italian cyclist, who held the world “hour record,” which refers to the distance ridden from a stationary start over the course of an hour. Moser rode 51.151 km in his record run. Along with his cycling prowess, he worked in his family vineyards from his youth and, in 1979, along with his brother Diego, established the Moser winery near the village of Gardolo di Mezzo.

We cracked the bottle as the skies darkened in State College. (This means that both of us had left our respective workstations a little bit early this time of year.) Sitting back in our “evening chairs,” we had our first few sips. This 100% Chardonnay sparkler has a lightly fruity nose with some very pleasant floral aromas and a little toast on the back end. The mouthfeel is round and full, with lots of refreshing bubbles. Not as much of that toast and yeast lees flavor carries through to the midpalate, but there’s a collection of fruit: pineapple, mango, and pear. The finish is zippy and cleansing, settling back into a little bit of fresh bread at the very end. All in all, it’s just a super pleasant sparkling wine.

As we got closer to the dinner hour, I manned the stove and put together from some fresh crab ravioli from another central PA institution, Fasta & Ravioli Company, done in a simple white wine sauce. The wine’s flavors married particularly well with the rich shellfish, playing off the meatiness while cutting through the sauce’s butter. While crab is an obvious pairing, shrimp or lobster would be nice. I also tried a little bit we had left over the next day with some braunschweiger on a saltine – a flavor craving I picked up as a kid – and was actually a pretty nice match. While I know liver sausage may not be everyone’s cup of tea, any sort of pâté would be lovely alongside.

I’ve long been a fan of these Metodo Classico wines, if you’ve followed here long enough. They’re excellent budget-friendly substitutes for many Champagnes, and the Moser is no exception. You’ll find this for around $25, which is well-priced for a bottle of this quality

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