Trentino Metodo Brut Wines – Balter
While I was up in the beautiful Trentino-Alto Adige region I had the opportunity to visit the Balter Winery located just outside of Rovereto in a small medieval castle 350 meters above sea level. Spectacular scenery from the vineyard with snow-capped Dolomiti in every direction, quite breathtaking to say the least.
Now I’m quite the lover of all things bubbly, especially when it comes in the form of wine. I was enthusiastically VERY interested in trying these wines!
Nicola Balter was in the middle of working when we arrived but soon was showing us around the winemaking facility and he even let us tour his charming 16th century tower/castle with crenulations, caves and all!
Balter makes a wine I particularly enjoy, a Trentino DOC Metodo Classico Brut. Made with 100% Chardonnay, the grapes are harvested in September and 15% go into barrique (barrels), the rest in stainless steel, and both are left to do their fermentation and stay with just the natural yeast. 8 months later they add sugar and yeast in three large containers and immediately bottle with just a simple beer cap. The wine is then allowed to “work and evolve” for 36 months, where it eventually reaches a atmosphere of 6 of CO2 in the bottle. It is quite common to see a blown out bottle amongst all the other “resting/working” bottles when the pressure has become too much in a bottle that has defects.
After 36 months the bottles are then put into the riddling rack, which is called rastrelliera in Italian. At first the bottles are inserted only a little, then a little farther so that every 2 days the bottles are turned 1/4 turn and inserted and angled farther down for a total of 20 days. This allows the lees and sediment to slowly and fully move to the neck of the bottle. Then the upper part of the neck of the bottle is frozen at 30 degrees below zero in order to remove plug, just the pressure alone inside the bottle is able to push it out. The bottles were overfilled when it was originally bottled in order to not have to refill the bottle after the cap is taken out. When the plug is removed and a normal champagne cap is finally put on the bottle the process is called Sbocatura.
Just before the champagne cap is added it is decided whether or not the wine will be sweet or dry and depending on what they choose, a little sugar or more is added to the bottle as well sulfites Something I didn’t realize is that they add the sugar to avoid it being too bitter, even if it will be a brut!
Another thing I learned from Nicola, is that the Metodo Brut wines should be consumed within the 3 years after the Sbocatura (taking out of the plug and capping). After 3 years the wine starts to decline.
Not only does Balter have a Brut and a Brut Riserva (the Brut Riserva ages on lees for 72 months!) but they also have a Brut Rosé made from 100% Pinto Nero which I fell in love with and HIGHLY recommend. Do yourself a favor and get some, just leave a few cases for me!
Nicola has won numerous well deserved awards for his wines and I was really impressed with his well maintained vineyards and winery production. Grazie e complimenti Nicola!!!