It’s a tall tale that everyone sips high-alcohol reds in winter. Many of us turn to light-on-their-feet wines that are cool, fizzy, and offer a delicious hint of funk.
Rustic sparklers hailing from up and down Italy’s boot include label descriptors like “rifermentato spontaneamente in bottiglia” (spontaneously fermented in bottle) and “non filtrato” (unfiltered). While they are often mentioned in the same breath as Méthode Ancestrale and Pétillant Naturel pours, these beauties are made using a slightly different approach. Instead of one fermentation that completes in bottle, effervescence is prompted by adding a bit of must — the juicy, unfermented portion of crushed grapes — to still wine. That mixture goes into a crown cap-sealed bottle. As yeast in the must consumes sugar, CO2 results and is trapped inside. The fine sediment that remains after yeast has done its work is not disgorged or otherwise filtered out, lending texture, delectable earthiness, and dimension to the finished product.
An hour’s drive north of Verona, high above the city of Trento, Matteo Furlani tends his family’s vines. Furlani, a fourth-generation winemaker, learned the craft from his father and grandfather, supplementing his knowledge with studies in agronomy. His family has always worked chemical-free, and he doggedly pursues that natural path. On a lovely bottle called “Antico” — crafted from the white grape nosiola — the phrase “sui lieviti” appears. It translates to “on the lees,” emphasizing that the yeast sediment remains in the wine and is never disgorged.
Bubblies in this unfiltered style are not only made in alpine settings. In southern Italy’s Campania, two families craft delicious examples. Elisabetta Luorio and Pasquale Mitrano left architecture careers in Naples to assume care for the Luorio family farm in Torchiara, inland from the Cilento Coast. At their winery Casebianche, the wife-and-husband team craft a range of organic pours, including a fizzy, earthy red called Pashkà, made from aglianico and barbera grapes. The Salerno family behind Casa di Baal — located in pristine territory inland from the Amalfi Coast — craft an aromatic sparkler called “La Mossa” from biodynamically grown fiano and moscato, utilizing native yeasts.
To fully enjoy these pours, gently invert bottles to reintegrate the creamy lees into the wine before opening. And because these are moderate in alcohol, you can remain light on your feet as you stride into the new year.
Cantina Furlani “Antico” Vino Spumante Clean and lightly yeasty on the nose, this pale-hued pour offers a soft bubbly prickle with lemony spritz, ample minerality, and salty fresh funk. 11.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Around $28. At Social Wines, South Boston, 617-268-2974; Pastaio Via Corta, Gloucester, 978-868-5005.
Casebianche “Pashkà” Rosso Frizzante Secco 2017 Delightfully savory, earthy, and dry with an appetizing bit of grip, this gently fizzy red offers berry and balsamic notes that make it a natural with cured meats. 12 percent ABV. Around $25. At Eataly, Back Bay, 617-807-7310; Dave’s Fresh Pasta, Somerville, 617-623-0867.
Casa di Baal “La Mossa” Frizzante Bianco 2017 As fast-streaming bubbles calm in the glass, this straw-tinged pour projects scents of guava and sweet cling peach; but the palate is fully dry, with tropical fruit, grapefruit, and salt on the finish. 12 percent ABV. Around $20. At Eataly; Common Vines, Downtown Crossing, 617-800-6189.
Ellen Bhang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.