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Ferrari, an Italian producer of high quality sparkling wines

Sparkling wines are growing in popularity. Champagne is the most prestigious of bubbly, but how does an ambitious wine grower making quality wines in Italy compare with the French product? We decided to verify: a tasting of a series of wines from the quality winemaker Ferrari, from non-vintage brut, over rosé, to the prestige cuvée sparklers. BKWine’s Roland Eriksson reports from a meeting with Marcello Lunelli from the family that owns Ferrari.

In Stockholm it is the usual grey and dreary a morning in March, but it was to be livened up when I went on my way to Vinunic’s tasting at Operakällaren, with good food and hopefully some really nice Italian “bubbly” to go with it.

Marcello Lunelli, Cantine Ferrari

Marcello Lunelli, Cantine Ferrari

Giulio Ferrari was an oenologist, trained both in San Michele all’Adige, in Montpellier, and in Geisenheim on the Rhine. He went to Epernay in Champagne, where he quickly learned the process of how to make sparkling wine and he realised that the climate was similar to his homeland in Trentino where the grapes never quite ripened (like in Champagne). So why not take advantage of the acidity and make a sparkling wine in as in Champagne? He imported chardonnay grapes from France and planted them in Trentino.

In 1902 he started a modest production of Ferraris “champenoise” made in the classic way with the second fermentation in the bottle.

Giulio sold his business to the Lunelli family in 1952. The Lunellis made new investments to increase production. Marcello Lunelli explains that Giulio Ferrari produced 9000 bottles per year; today they can produce 9000 bottles per hour! To cope with the production they also buy grapes, but all vintage wines come from their own vineyards.

Italy’s most famous sparkling wine is called prosecco and is (most often) a simple and uncomplicated wine made from the glera grape. It (normally) makes its second fermentation in steel tanks. But in quality areas such as Trento DOC and Franciacorta they produce quality wines from chardonnay and pinot nero (=pinot noir), which receives its second fermentation in the bottle. So it will be fun to try the Ferrari range of wines accompanied by the food from Operakällaren that has just regained its Michelin star!

Ferrari sparkling wines

Ferrari sparkling wines, copyright R Eriksson

The Ferrari wines

Ferrari Brut NV

100% chardonnnay, 12.5% vol, 2 years on the lees, ~16 euro ( (*) euro price estimates are based on the retail prices in the Swedish monopoly)

Pale yellow colour, young, floral fragrance, with hints of mineral, red apples and grapes, the taste is medium-bodied, fresh, fruity, with mineral, citrus and red apples, 84p

Ferrari Perlé Chardonnay Brut 2007

100% Chardonnay, 12.5% vol, 5 years on lees, own vineyards, ~22 euro (*)

Pale yellow colour, the scent is quite large, youthful, apple fruity, with mineral and citrus and some maturity tones, the flavour is quite full-bodied, with mineral, grapefruit, red apples and tones of maturity, long, 86p

Ferrari Perlé Chardonnay Brut 2006

100% Chardonnay, 12.5% vol, 5 years on lees, own vineyards, ~22 euro (*)

Yellow colour, fairly big and ripe nose with spiciness, mushrooms, apple must and brioche, the taste is the quite full-bodied, quite mature, with good acidity, some bitterness and length. Feels much older than the 2007 because it was degorgerad in 2011 and 2007 in 2013, 87p

Ferrari sparkling wine

Ferrari sparkling wine, copyright R Eriksson

Ferrari Rosé NV

60% pinot nero, 40% chardonnay, 12.5% vol, 2.5 years on lees, ~28 euro (*)

Salmon pink, young nose with red fruits and with raspberry, red currant, the taste is quite full-bodied, fresh, with red fruit and berries, raspberry, good acidity, long, 85p

Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2007

80% pinot nero, 20 % chardonnay, 12.5% vol, 5 years on lees, own vineyards, ~38 euro (*)

Dark salmon pink colour, quite big and mature nose, with wild raspberries, red currants and strawberry; flavour is quite full with some astringency, red fruits with wild raspberries and tones of maturity, long, 87p

Ferrari Perlé Nero 2006

100% pinot nero, 12.5% vol, six years on lees, extra brut (2.5 g sugar/l), own vineyards, ~55 euro (*)

Light golden colour, big bouquet, with maturity notes, ripe red apples, red and dark berries, dry, full-bodied and austere flavour, with hints of raspberry, red currant and citrus, long, 90p

Ferrari sparkling wines

Ferrari sparkling wines, copyright R Eriksson

Ferrari Reserve Lunelli 2005

100% chardonnay, 12.5% vol, seven years on lees, the vineyard Villa Margon, and the only wine that is aged in 4000-liter barrels of Austrian oak, ~45 euro (*)

Light golden yellow colour, quite big mature nose, with hints of brioche, caramel, old red apples; the palate is quite rich and powerful with good tones of maturity, toasted barrels and ripe apples, long, 90p

Giulio Ferrari Reserve del Fondatore 2002

100% chardonnay, 12.5% vol, 10 years on the lees, the vineyard Maso Pianizza, only some 30 000 bottles are produced, and only in particularly good years, ~80 euro (*)

Light golden yellow colour, big quite mature nose, with hints of yellow and red apples, citrus, brioche and tropical fruit; the taste is full-bodied and almost chewy, with maturity tones, lightly toasted, orange peel and tropical fruit, long, 91p

Definitely some nice wines of high quality and some of them very close to champagne in style. It would probably be difficult in a blind tasting along with champagnes to distinguish what is what. What possibly what one does not find are strong mineral tone and/or the toastiness that a really good champagne can sometimes have. Ferrari Brut NV is a bargain for ~17 euro (*). However, when you reach ~45-80 euro (*) then I think it may be hard to get the normal consumer to want to pay when the text “champagne” is not on the bottle in spite of the fact that the wines are of similar quality.

The tasting was arranged by wine importer VinUnic and took place at the Operakällaren. A number of excellent dishes from the kitchen was served with the tasting.

Roland Eriksson writes on BKWine Magazine on wine tastings with wine merchants and importers in Sweden. Roland is the author of a book on cognac (A Handbook: Cognac, 2007, published in Swedish) and one on rum as well as one on tea.

For those who want to discover Italy’s sparkling wines on site, we can recommend a wine tour to one of Italy’s wine regions with BKWine.

If instead you want to explore Champagne and champagne wines then a wine tour to Champagne is the perfect choice for you.

Travel to the wine regions in Italy and France and in other wine countries with the experts on wine and the specialist on wine tours.

Scallops at Operakallaren in Stockholm

Scallops at Operakallaren in Stockholm, copyright R Eriksson

Elegant fish dish at Operakallaren in Stockholm

Elegant fish dish at Operakallaren in Stockholm, copyright R Eriksson

Red cars in a parking lot

Red cars in a parking lot, copyright BKWine Photography

This post is also available in: Swedish

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