Montenisa ‘Brut’ – Italy

I’ve been quite busy over the last week (hence there was no “wine readings” last week) but now I have more time for blogging.

Regulars already know that I love Franciacorta sparkling wines. Only recently I had a Montenisa NV ‘Brut’ Franciacorta DOCG. The wine retails for around $28. Surprisingly, Montenisa is a brand of the Tuscan winery Marchesi Antinori (famous for Tignanello).

It’s produced with Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and small amounts of Pinot Nero, I didn’t know that they use Pinot Nero in Italy for sparkling wine production. Always though that it was just used for Champagne. Montenisa ‘Brut’ aged for 30 months in French oak. The wine is considered as the flagship sparkling wine of Montenisa.

The wine has a golden yellow color. The perlage lasted only for a short time. On the nose aromas of tropical fruit, minerals, almonds, pear and flowers.

On the palate dry with lots of fruit. Stoney minerality. Rather short after taste.

This “Champagne-like” sparkling wine has clearly its own character. It was alright but not mind-blowing. If you get a chance to try it then you might as well go for it but it’s nothing too special and for almost $30 there are better Franciacorta available. Since I love Franciacorta I was quite happy to try it though.


14 thoughts on “Montenisa ‘Brut’ – Italy

  1. Hey Frank,
    Very nice review as always.
    Yes, Italy (and Franciacorta among the four appellations that are reserved to the production of Classic Method sparkling wines) does use Pinot Noir for most of its wines, as per the traditional recipe. Only Franciacorta Saten wines (a loose equivalent of Cremant in France) are not permitted by Franciacorta specifications to use black-berried grapes – they can only be Blanc de Blancs.
    Interestingly, a relatively recent appellation in Lombaria that is also reserved to the production of Classic Method sparkling wine (Oltrepo Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG) requires for its wines a minimum of 70% Pinot Noir.
    Also, Ferrari Perle’ Nero in the Trento DOC appellation is made of 100% Pinot Noir grapes and is a fabulous sparkling wine.
    If you want to know more about the production of Classic Method sparkling wines in Italy, the appellations reserved to it, and a few of my favorite Classic Method wines, you may consider taking a look at two posts that appeared over the winter holidays on Flora’s Table – they are called Psychobubbles: Unraveling the Intricacies of Italian Spumante – Part I and Part III
    (I take the liberty of quoting myself because I put quite some effort into them and you may find them useful). I am not providing links for netiquette, but you can easily look for such posts in the search box of the web site.
    Take care!

    • I will take a look at your two posts 🙂
      Stefano, I don’t mind you posting links since so far everything you wrote was very interesting and worth sharing.
      I only remember Ferrari’s ‘Rosé’. and ‘Peler’ Has been too long since I’ve last tried their other sparklers but I remember that I liked the ‘Perle Nero’, too.
      Also I’m not yet familiar with Otrepo Pavese but I’ll make sure I try some soon (to be honest this is the first time I heard about this and yes I know I am a wine-rookie..)

      • Frank, you are everything but a wine-rookie!!! Your knowledge of Italian wine never ceases to amaze me!
        Julian and I just try to push you even more to explore a few lesser known Italian wines that you might like 🙂
        I am not surprised that you had never heard of OP Metodo Classico: it is a relatively new appellation (it was approved as a DOCG in 2007) and their wines are not widely available in Italy either, let alone abroad. Plus, honestly I think they are facing an uphill battle trying to make a dent in the market recognition of their “bigger cousin” Franciacorta… But we will see, time will tell if they are up to something good.
        I bet you have not heard of the fourth appellation reserved to Italian Classic Method sparkling wine either, which is in Piemonte and is called Alta Langa DOCG… This is even newer, as it was approved as a DOCG in 2011. I have not had any wine made from this appellation myself (they are very hard to find) but I would not mind trying them out (there is one in particular I have read good things about which I am seeking). As the new kid on the block of Classic Method spumante’s and with regulations that look laxer than those of all of the other three appellations, I have to say my expectations are not very high… If I manage to lay my hands on a bottle I will post about it though! 🙂

      • You are right I didn’t know about Alta Langha until today. Julian informed me that Banfi was producing wine in Piedmont and I just googled that and saw that Banfi is actually making Alta Langha DOCG sparklers in Piedmont. I’ll see how hard they are to find. I’ve had mixed experiences with the traditional red wines from Banfi so not sure if it’s worth taking the risk. No doubt they produce some very good wines but some of their cheaper once lack quality in my opinion.

        I think you are right that it will be hard for Otrepo Pavese to push Franciacorta away. Too many people simply don’t know Otrepo Pavese and Franciacorta sparklers on the other hand are world famous. Also Otrepo Pavese is even more complicated to pronounce than Franciacorta 😛

  2. Nice review Frank. I still find it weird to see Antinori producing sparkling wine in Lombardia. But in the last years more and more large Italian wineries expanded into different regions. Antinori is also producing wine in Umbria. Another example for this trend would be Castello Banfi, which recently expanded to South America and into the Piedmont. Masi did the same thing and is now producing wine in Argentina.
    Stefano already said everything important that I could have told you about the usage of Pinot Nero in sparkling wine production.

    • Thanks for your insights on this! I didn’t know that the “big names” in the Italian wine business are making wine in multiple regions. I thought Antinori would be an exception. I mean can see why a winery would expand into another region but into a different continent? That just doesn’t seem to make sense.
      Have you had South American wine from Masi and/or Banfi? If so what was your experience with them?

      • I don’t think there is a single answer to your question. I believe that the wineries want to experiment on foreign soil with their local grapes – at least that’s what Banfi and Masi did. South American wines are becoming more and more popular here in in Europe so the big Italian wineries want to make sure that their market share doesn’t decrease.

        And yes I’ve tried South American wines from both Castello Banfi and Masi. They were alright. I enjoyed the one from Masi a little bit more though. I think it was called Passo Doble and was a blend of Malbec and Corvina grapes.

      • Malbec and Corvina? Interesting combination. That would never be possible in Italy. If you’ve reviewed that wine can you give me the link to your review? I’m curious about it 🙂

  3. I fell in love with the wines of the Trentino more than thirty years ago while spending two three-month sessions teaching ESP in Roveretto, and learning first hand, what it was to taste, and enjoy, splendid wines produced simply for consumption by the family. Each bottle was the legacy of generations of expertise, mingled with the love of viticulture; a formidable, and wonderful combination.

    As was the four level cellar in which the wine matured; the final, and deepest level being reserved for the bottles of sparkling wine; lovingly turned, one quarter-turn every day, by the grandfather. The resulting golden liquid was pure nectar, worthy of merit on any market, and the subject of many a conversation long afterwards.

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