Champagne’s Little-Known Italian Cousin: Oltrepo-Pavese’s Sparkling Wines

I am sure that Champagne is what comes to mind when you think about sparkling wines. Who doesn’t love a fancy bottle of wine that you can pronounce like you speak French? Keeping it romantic, when you think Italian sparkling wine, Prosecco’s your go-to. After all, Prosecco is the number one sparkling wine in Italy, both in terms of production and export numbers. Delve a little deeper and there is Asti Spumante, that very sweet (sometimes too sweet) bubbly, which follows as Italy’s second most produced sparkling wine. But, in fact, Italy actually produces more varieties of sparkling wine than any other country, and they’ve been doing so since the Roman times. That’s a lot of  bubbles! And, to get the best of both fizzy worlds, in the Oltrepò Pavese they make sparkling wines in the Champagne style, for less money. This means that the wine is made using the same grapes as in Champagne, France: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and the same method, called secondary fermentation in which the bubbles form inside the bottles.

Oltrepò Pavese is located 40 minutes south of Milan, the capital of the Lombardy region. It is just across the river from Pavia and means just that, “on the other side of the Po River from Pavia”. As you cross the river, you will begin driving through rolling hills peppered with vineyards and might think you are in the ever-famous Tuscany. The Oltrepò is frequently called the “Tuscany of the North”, but has been overshadowed by its neighbor Franciacorta, located one hour north of Milan, which is known for making some of Italy’s most prestigious sparkling wines. But, Oltrepò Pavese is the regions to be on the lookout for.

To read the complete story from Drink Me Mag (Dec-Jan 2014), click here.