The founder of Il Vino in Buckhurst Hill, Tony Long, looks at the sparkling wine speeding ahead of the pack
Formula One has always been the among the world’s most glamourous and high-profile sports. Ever since the first winners took the chequered flag, the podium has been the place where victories are celebrated with unbounded joy and passion.
Traditionally, as for a lot of other occasions, Champagne was considered the most prestigious way of celebrating, and the flying corks and spraying alcohol marked the beginning of the post-race celebrations and many after-parties around the paddock.
For many decades, Champagne has been regarded as unsurpassed in terms of quality and prestige and, without doubt, the finest bottles are truly wonderful. However, Champagne is simply the region in France where this particular style of sparkling wine is made and producers outside the region are not allowed to call their sparkling wines Champagne.
Naturally, many other countries also produce excellent sparkling wines made from the same varietals of grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, etc), using exactly the same Méthode Traditionnelle as the fine Champagne houses, and one in particular has recently risen to the heights previously only reserved for Champagne.
Ferrari (nothing to do with the racing cars) is an Italian wine producer in the mountainside vineyards of Trento in the Alps of North East Italy founded by Giulio Ferrari in 1902 and owned by Gruppo Lunelli, and over recent years their wines have attracted great interest from not only a growing number of consumers, but also the judges of prestigious wine competitions, culminating in 12 gold and eight silver medals at the 2021 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships, where they were also awarded Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year.
It goes without saying that in order to reach the very top you have to have immense passion, commitment and determination, so it seems wholly appropriate the Ferrari Trento has replaced the historic Champagne houses that have previously been the sparkling wine of choice to celebrate success at the pinnacle of the world’s most demanding motorsport, Formula One.
So next time you have a celebration or just fancy something sparkling and wonderfully refreshing, try some of the outstanding alternatives to Champagne – you’ll be amazed how good they are and excellent value.
Tony Long’s three picks for August
Ferrari Brut F1 Trentodoc, Italy, £30
Lively, bright, straw yellow with a fine and persistent perlage. On the nose a fresh and intense bouquet, with a broad fruity note of ripe Golden Delicious apples, white flowers and a delicate toasted scent. The result is harmonious and well-balanced, with notes of ripe fruit and attractive hints of crusty bread.
Graham Beck Blanc de Blancs 2017, South Africa, £20
Bright lime green colour with rich aromas of fresh limes, green apples, pears and lemon zest on the nose. Delicately balanced flavours of succulent citrus, brioche and spice combines with creamy complexity, broadening the palate with layered textures and leading to a long finish.
Langlois-Chateau Crémant de Loire NV, France, £20
An elegant blend of Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet-Franc from the Côtes de Saumur. Light yellow colour with fine, delicate bubbles. A complex nose mixing different fruits such as quince, peach and grapefruit lead to a fresh finish with a delicate and refined mouth-feel. Langlois-Chateau is owned by Bollinger and has some of the finest vineyards in the Loire Valley, so not surprising that this is one of the most refined examples of non-Champagne French fizz you’ll find anywhere!