Sparkling Wine and Festive Holiday Dishes is the theme for our December Wine Pairing Weekend thanks to this month’s host Cindy Rynning whose blog is cleverly called Grape Experiences. What a delicious pairing idea!
Sparkling wines are among my very favorite wines. I love the variety of flavors, variable degree of sweetness and the large number of grape varieties that are used to make sparkling wine. And, they’re generally so food friendly.
Although most of us think of sparkling wines in terms of celebrating special occasions, such as the holidays or New Year’s Eve, we recently tasted a group of sparkling wines made at the foot of the Dolomites in northeastern Italy that has me thinking we should be drinking sparkling wine regularly. And with a meal, not just before a meal.
The four sparkling wines we tasted were made by Cantine Ferrari. The tasting was organized by Protocol Wine Studio and was part of their wine education program, #winestudio, that takes place on Twitter, Tuesday evenings. We received the wines as tasting samples.
A Brief Introduction to Ferrari and Trento DOC
The history of Ferrari sparkling wines reaches back to before the company was established by Giulio Ferrari in 1902. Ferrari was the first to produce sparkling wine from Chardonnay grapes, which he brought to Trentino from Champagne. He used what would come to be called método classico in Italy, with the second fermentation in the bottle just as in Champagne, to produce his sparkling wine.
The northern latitude of Trento DOC, as the growing region is now designated, means a long but cool growing season. The vineyards, which are located on mountainsides at altitudes between 250 and 800 meters above sea level are subject to extreme variation in daytime and nighttime temperatures. The soils are very complex. All of this translates to wines with precision, brilliant acidity and pinpoint bubbles.
We prepared meals to accompany three of the four Ferrari sparkling wines we tasted. After tasting the first wine without food, we decided we needed to prepare meals to accompany all of the others.
Ferrari Sparkling Wine and Food Pairings
Ferrari Brut NV — pale yellow in the glass with persistent, small bubbles. Aromas of toasted almonds and citrus predominate and are followed by flavors of red apples, wet rocks, citrus and toasted bread. The bubbles are precise and mouth filling. The finish is clean and the acidity is remarkable. Just as remarkable as the flavors of this wine, is the aroma that is left in the glass after it is empty…toasted almonds and oats. Delightful. 12.5% ABV. SRP $25
The Ferrari Brut is a blanc de blanc, produced from 100% Chardonnay. Multiple lots are blended to produce a wine that must be excellent every single year. This wine offers excellent quality for the price.
Ferrari Brut Rosé NV — coppery, salmon color in the glass with persistent, small bubbles. Berry aromas and flavors are supported by toasty, citrus flavors and bracing acidity. Once again, pinpoint bubbles are persistent and the finish is very long with flavor. 12.5% ABV. SRP $36.
This rosé is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero made as a rosé. It has so much flavor and once again brilliant acidity. While this wine is lovely to sip on its own, it makes a wonderful accompaniment to a meal.
We paired this wine with bucatini carbonara from a pairing suggested by Eataly. The creamy carbonara includes mascarpone, guanciale (I had to substitute pancetta), pecorino romano cheese and eggs. Rather than slow cooking the eggs as the recipe recommends, I mixed the beaten eggs with the cheeses and allowed them to cook with the heat of the pasta. A dusting of roasted pecorino romano on top provided a nice toasty crunch. The creaminess of the pasta is perfectly balanced by the acidity of the Rosé.
Ferrari 2007 Perlé — medium yellow in the glass with fine, persistent bubbles. This wine is so filled with tiny bubbles that you can hear them bursting in your mouth. Flavors are fresh, bright and citrusy with apple and toasted almond flavors in the background along with crushed rock. Very long finish. 12.5% ABV. SRP $38.
Extraordinary. The combination of fresh fruit flavors along with the toast is remarkable. This wine is so fresh and lively, yet it has the complexity of aging on the lees. The bottle was disgorged in 2015.
We paired seared scallops, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper alongside a mild pesto linguine. The pesto included only a bit of garlic, finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, olive oil and toasted almonds. Substituting toasted almonds for pine nuts and reducing the garlic makes a very well balanced and flavorful pesto. The salty, sweet scallops paired nicely with the pasta and both were perfectly matched with the Perlé.
2001 Ferrari Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore — golden yellow in the glass with fine, persistent bubbles. Toasted almond aromas and hints of roasting coffee bean aromas are echoed in the flavors along with melon, pear and minerals. Super complex, lively and youthful with an extremely long finish. 12.5% ABV. SRP $125.
This extraordinary wine is a tribute to Giulio Ferrari. It is bottled only in the very best vintages and is sourced from a single estate vineyard, Maso Pianizza. It ages for over 10 years on the lees, yet remains fresh and crisp. This is a wine you just want to sip and think about. The flavors are so complex and ever changing. I will always remember this tasting of Giulio Ferrari — it is the first time I have ever tasted and smelled roasting coffee beans in a sparkling wine!
We paired the Giulio Ferrari with an assortment of cheese that included mild blue-veined cheeses, a soft triple cream and a cheddar-style cheese. Just for good measure we added deviled eggs topped with candied bacon (oh, yes we did!). Castelvetrano olives and cornichons added a bit of green.
I grew up on a dairy, so let’s just say I can’t help but love cheese. Both blue-veined cheeses, the Grand Noir from Germany and St. Agur from France, were relatively mild, salty and very creamy. They literally just melt in your mouth. The third soft cheese, Domaine du Vallage, is also French and a mild, sweet, salty triple cream cheese. The Central Coast Creamery Seascape is a cheddar-style firmer cheese made from a combination of goat and cow’s milk. It had a bit of a tang, and a nice firm texture. This cheese is a good starter cheese for people who think them might not like goat’s milk cheeses. It is very mild.
The deviled eggs were prepared with horseradish, Dijon mustard, cayenne and mayonnaise. They have a bit of a tang and just a hint of heat from the cayenne pepper. The smoky sweet bacon is a perfect contrast.
This pairing was just divine. I’m embarrassed to admit that we made a meal of this assortment of cheeses, deviled eggs and olives. They all were amazing on their own, and when paired with the Giulio Ferrari both just sang. I think the key to this cheese and sparkling wine pairing is the creamy soft and relatively mild blue-veined cheeses. We made a trip to a local cheese shop, Cheese Central, to be certain we made the perfect choices for this pairing. They were not in any way overpowering of the Giulio Ferrari.
The Take Aways
So, this has been a different kind of Wine Pairing Weekend post for us. We have waived the preparation details of the food so we could concentrate on these extraordinary wines. We just had to share them all with you, they really are some of the most remarkable wines we have tasted this year.
Check back with Pull That Cork on Monday, December 14 for a detailed post about the history, the vineyards and importantly the Lunelli family who have kept Giulio Ferrari’s dream of making quality sparkling wine in Trentino alive. You will discover Ferrari has it all; an interesting history and brilliant sparkling wine to match.
Ferrari sparkling wines are widely distributed in the U.S. We have put our money where our mouth is, and ordered Ferrari wines to celebrate the New Year’s Eve (and beyond!) You can be certain we will not only toast 2016 with a Ferrari sparkling wine, but will be enjoying them into 2016 — with our meals. I encourage you to do the same, you will not be disappointed.
Cindy, great choice of topics, thanks for hosting this month’s Wine Pairing Weekend. A huge thanks goes to Protocol Wine Studio for organizing #winestudio and Ferrari for sharing your sparkling wines and your interesting history with us.
See what the rest of our fellow bloggers have paired with sparkling wine, their blogs are linked below.
Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be “Celebrating with Lemon-Poached Scallops with Caviar Limes and Champagne”
A Day in the Life on the Farm is excited to share “An Assortment of Appetizers with a California Champagne”
Curious Cuisiniere has paired “Italian Panettone and Sparkling Wine”
Confessions of a Culinary Diva is preparing to have “Champagne & Caviar Dreams”
ENOFYLZ Wine Blog is planning “A 3-Course Sparkling Wine Dinner with Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut”
Grape Experiences is excited for the holidays with “Le Medaillon Brut NV and Normandy Fondue”
Dracaena Wines is ready to talk about “Why We Love Sparkling (And You Should, Too!)”
WinePassItaly will be enjoying “Asti Spumante with Hazelnut and Torrone Semifreddo for #WinePW”
FoodWineClick is preparing “Easy Holiday Appetizers & a Sparkler from South Africa”
Cooking Chat is planning “Kale Pesto Crostini Wine Pairing That Sparkles”
Wines of Roero is sharing “Roero Arneis Spumanti DOCG and Lobster Risotto Arancini”
Austrian Wines USA is thrilled to present “Austria’s Sekt with Smoked Char Cucumber Canapes”
Rockin’ Red Blog will share “A Sparkling Good Wine and Food Pairing”
We will be chatting about our sparkling wine and food pairings on Twitter Saturday morning December 12 at 8am PST. Follow #winePW and join the conversation.
If you’ve come to us after December 12, consider joining us for #winePW on January 9, focused on “New Year — Try Something New”, hosted by Martin at ENOFYLZ Wine Blog You can get a full listing of past and upcoming Wine Pairing Weekend events here.