MOVE OVER CHARDONNAY
Champagne is the benchmark region in the world that focuses solely on the production of sparkly wines using the classic two-step ferments. What is referred to as “Traditional Method”, most sparkling wine producers can only hope to mirror their fizzes after their role model? The standard grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and the belle of the ball Chardonnay are the grapes that make up the wines of Champagne as well as other sparkling wines. Chardonnay has always been the go-to grape for these wines, because she’s easy, like the first date that wants to go home with you. I even attribute Chardonnay to be like the tofu of grapes, it will absorb any treatment you throw at it.
Don’t get it twisted, I love me a glass of Champagne Blanc de Blanc (Chardonnay base). On the other hand, with all the fun effervescence that dances around in my mouth, I like to find bubbles of unknown varieties that flirt with the palate. Why spend money on bottles that are going to taste the same as the next one. Such a shame. When I came across Zero Infinito recommended to me by Hi-Time Wine Cellars, I was told It was 100% Solaris! My curiosity was immediately bubbling over.
HERE COMES THE SUN
To understand why the makers of Zero Infinito chose Solaris (means sun), is to understand the region where the wine is made. Trentino-Alto Adige is Italy’s northernmost wine region, located right on the border with Austria. It can be frozen in these parts since its borders are laced with Dolomites mountains. However, because vineyards are planted at high elevations, the grapes receive a good dose of radiation. This in turn ripens them with thicker skins for protection. The region also is influenced by the tempering warming effect from nearby Lake Garda. What results from these factors are wines with rich character while retaining high acid; perfect for the production of sparkling wines. Production was once dominated by the local Lagrein and Schiava red grape varieties. Today white wines are now more important in terms of volume, and Solaris shares this collection.
You thought Chardonnay was gifted, this German hybrid, developed in 1975, can stand up to any talent show. For all intents and purposes, it was built to withstand the extreme climate and weather conditions of Trento. It’s easy to grow, resistant to fungal disease and frost. It’s ready to perform since it ripens early with generous sugar levels. It seduces well in blends, offering its robust perfume and flavors. The combination of the Alto Adige wine region conditions and the Solaris grape profile, gave winemaker Pojer E Sandri beckon to come up with this purely crafted sparkling wine.
Pojer e Sandri is formed by two buddies Mario and Fiorentino who symbolize a grower-producer, winemakers that mirror the landscape of Trento. If all they had to do was pick the grapes and allow them to transcend themselves into wine it would reflect their winemaking philosophy. With a devoted knowledge of their land and vines, they are able to farm organically. I see them as parents who allow their children (grapes) to run wild and figure things out for themselves, with minimal intervention.
Coming up with the name of the wine “Zero” I’d imagine didn’t take infinite hours. For Solaris a grape that doesn’t need much attention or partners to the blending ball, there are NO herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides in the vineyard, NO added commercial yeast, enzymes, color, or sulfites, and NO clarification of the wine! Now that’s cash money just sitting on your ass.
ZERO INFINITO POJER E SANDRI
It’s made using the ancestral method (aka petillant naturel), which means the fermenting juice was bottled before completion, leaving sediment and refreshing fizz. There are two ways to play with it: If you are skittish about the sediment, tap into your fancy and decant it; or do what I do with these whimsical wines, gently turn the bottle upside down and back a few times and drink it! Savor ancient traditions and join the wave of enlightened winemakers the “peasant” way. Feast your palate with the flavor of the yeast “lees” joining in like in a traditional hefeweizen or typical Belgian ale in all its cloudy glory.
The color is a straw pale gold with green reflections with an overcast core
High intensity is given by delicate perfumed fresh white flowers of elderflower, water lilies, orange, and apple blossoms. Tree fruit comes to the fore with Golden apples, Baked pears, white juicy peach, mineral gravel
Dry, high acid, full-body, medium- alcohol, pronounced intensity of fresh white flowers, highlighted with hints of banana, peach nectar, crisp apples, Meyer sweet lemons, long finish of salted hazelnuts and wet wool.
LOOKING BEYOND THE HORIZON
What a treat to experience a grape I knew nothing about except to relish it without any clothes. I don’t want to taste winemaking, I want to taste the fruit and the land. Pojer e Sandri did justify their approach to Zero Infinito as it turned out to be a very spirited wine I’d recommend. Could Solaris replace Chardonnay any time soon? Absolutely not, but imagine the possibilities.
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Thank you and remember Taste Small Live Big!
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