Wine Time: Ferrari Brut NV, Italy

COST: $24-$26


WHAT: Sparkling wine makes every occasion special, so what better time to drink it than the holidays? I drink sparklers all year long, and if you don’t you are missing a special treat.

Sparkling wines make celebrations more festive, so you likely will see them at dinners and parties this time of year. For me, it’s not Christmas dinner without some bubbly to toast with.

There are many great sparkling wines available this year in all price ranges. One of my new favorites is Ferrari Brut, a nonvintage sparkling wine from Italy. It’s made from 100 percent Chardonnay and tastes very much like a first-rate Blanc de Blancs Champagne.

The wine is a gorgeous pale yellow in the glass with lots of tiny bubbles. Sparkling wines usually don’t have much aroma, but this one has distinctive fresh notes of Golden Delicious apples with yeasty notes.

The taste is clean, crisp and well-balanced. There is a delicate taste of ripe fruit and a hint of crusty bread on the palate. The finish lingers in your mouth.

Ferrari puts a lot of extra effort into this wine. The grapes are all hand picked on vines grown at elevations ranging from 985 feet to 2,300 feet. After initial fermentation using selected yeasts from Ferrari’s own cultures, the wine undergoes the classic second fermentation in the bottle. The wine will mature in the bottle for several years before it is released.

Serve this wine refrigerator cold and let it warm up slightly before drinking. It is worth investing a few dollars in a champagne stopper to keep the bubbles in the bottle lively for as long as possible.

WINERY: Since its founding in 1902, Ferrari has become Italy’s leading producer of sparkling wines. It is led by the third generation of the Lunelli family.

They grow Chardonnay grapes on Alpine slopes in the northern region of Trentino

Giulio Ferrari founded the company after studying in the south of France and then in the Champagne region. He returned to his native Trentino because he thought the soil and climate conditions were ideal for producing world-class sparkling wines. He was the first grower to bring Chardonnay vines to Italy.

By 1906 he already had won several awards for his wines in international competitions. The awards continue today as the winery often wins the Tre Bicchieri awards, Italy’s most sought-after wine accolade.

Giulio had no children so in 1952 he chose to sell the estate to Bruno Lunelli, a wine seller and friend of the Ferrari family. The four cousins running the winery today are Bruno’s descendants. The family has remained loyal to Ferrari’s commitment to excellence.

The wines are produced in the Metodo Classico, the same method used to make fine champagnes. The family has embraced sustainable farming in its 300 acres of estate vineyards and in those owned by partner vine-growing families.

Ferrari’s three most famous labels – Ferrari Brut, Ferrari Perlé and Giulio Ferrari – are all Blanc de Blancs wines produced with Chardonnay grapes. The company also produces Ferrari Rose, a Pinot Noir/Chardonnay blend that is salmon-colored; Ferrari Perle Rose, a deeper salmon color with 70-80 percent Pinot Noir; and Ferrari Perle Nero made from 100 percent Pinot Noir.

What started as a limited wine for the luxury market has become popular throughout Italy. The company is now trying to raise global awareness of its wine.

GOES WITH: Teri and I brought this bottle with us on a relaxing long weekend in the North Carolina mountains with our friends Steve and Sandy. It rained the first couple of days but we had a great time reading, working a jigsaw puzzle and watching my beloved Chicago Bears clobber the Dallas Cowboys.

The rain stopped on the final day, so we drove up U.S. Highway 64 and saw some wonderful waterfalls. We drove under one and walked behind another. That night we watched a gorgeous sunset from Sapphire Valley accommodations.

We popped the cork on the Ferrari with a lazy meal of rotisserie chicken from the Ingles market, hash brown potatoes, fruit salad, tossed salad and hot rolls from the oven. For dessert we had Klondike bars. The combination was heavenly, and the sparkler made the meal a real celebration.

Dry sparkling wines like this go with nearly every food, from pizza to pate,
from spicy Asian food to soups and stews. This wine will match nearly any food with which you could pair it.



Wine and tapas tasting, 5 p.m. until closing, La Maison on Telfair, 404 Telfair St.; four wines and three tapas, $25; (706)

Wine tasting, 5-8 p.m., Wine World, 133 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; three whites and three reds and cheeses; $5 with rebate on purchase of one bottle of the featured wines; (803) 279-9522


Wine and beer tasting, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; featuring wines from the Wagner Family, including Caymus; price dependent on flight selection; (706) 922-9463


Wine and beer tasting, 2-6 p.m., Vineyard Wine Market, 4414 Evans to Locks Road, Evans; featuring wines from the Wagner Family, including Caymus; price dependent on flight selection; (706)