30.06.2015. The Republic of Georgia is making sparkling wine. And there is another good fizzy pour coming from the Basque region of northern Spain. Both are made with grapes you probably don’t already know.
Producers all over the wine world are crafting frothy pours from varietals that may be entirely new to you, and offer the lively zip of bubbles in your glass.
One of these off-the-beaten-path grapes, called famoso, teetered on the edge of extinction until quite recently. Fifteen years ago, only two rows of these vines remained in northern Italy’s Emilia-Romagna. The varietal declined in the aftermath of the late-19th-century phylloxera scourge, then fell further into obscurity, easily mistaken for a similar looking grape. Today, winegrowers like Mauro Altini and his family at La Sabbiona winery craft these large berried, intensely aromatic clusters into a sparkling white called “Divo.” They use the charmat method, where the wine undergoes a second fermentation in a pressurized tank, to create lovely, persistent bubbles. (This is the same manner in which prosecco is made, but you would never confuse this glass of famoso — with a distinctive lemon curd fragrance — with its ubiquitous counterpart.)
The charmat method is also used at Bagrationi, based in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia. The company, a leading producer of bubbly in the former Soviet country, is named for a prince who established the sparkling wine house in 1882. Winemakers craft native grapes like chinebuli (also known as chinuri), mtsvane, and tsitska into a frothy sparkler offering appetizing scents of apples and a touch of yeastiness.