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Essential Winemakers of Italy ©Opening a Bottle

Lavis, Trentino-Alto Adige

Primary Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Nero

Primary Appellations: Trento DOC

American Importer: Banville Wine Merchants



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Why Cesarini Sforza is Essential

Makers of supremely crafted, age-worthy, traditional-method sparkling wine, Cesarini Sforza has the distinct advantage of sourcing many of their grapes from a spectacular backyard — the high-elevation Val di Cembra. Few landscapes in the world of wine are as dramatic or inspiring, but scenery aside, there’s a good reason why Val di Cembra is planted with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. This conduit for cold, mountain air yields a sparkling wine focused on freshness and athletic acidity. Balance these traits with the practice of long lees aging, as Cesarini Sforza does, and you have a wine with a depth to rival numerous cuvée from Champagne.

Yet, I find that these wines do not suffer from a champagne impostor syndrome. Their briskness is unique to the Alps, and worth discovering if you like to open sparkling wine with dinner rather than just for celebrations. Every one of Cesarini Sforza’s sparklers has a fascinating interplay of acidity to wake the senses, and a richness to soothe the soul. Good sparkling wine merely refreshes; excellent sparkling wine makes you want to come back to it again and again. By that measure, Cesarini Sforza is excellent.

Wines to Seek Out

The winery produces nine different sparkling wines, all of them in the traditional method under the guidelines of the Trentodoc appellation. Noteworthy wines include all three from the “1673” line, which commemorates the foundation of the noble family — Cesarini Sforza — that started the winery.

Cesarini Sforza “1673” Trentodoc Riserva Extra Brut

The 1673 Riserva Extra Brut has many layers, and its tones are surprisingly herbaceous and hearty, thanks to its 72 months on the lees.

Cesarini Sforza “1673” Trentodoc Brut Rosé

The 1673 Rosé Brut is also rich, round and full, with decadent tones of cherry. Again, the difference comes down to the high-elevation mountain fruit combined with very long lees aging — in this case, 60 months.

Cesarini Sforza “Aquila Reale” Trentodoc Riserva Brut

Aquila Reale Riserva is quite possibly the very best wine from Trentodoc (it’s a close call with Endrizzi’s “Maseto Prive”). A sublime sparkler made from 100% organically grown Chardonnay from the Maso Sette Fontane vineyard, it spends an incredibly long 90 months on the lees before disgorgement. One of Italy’s great sparkling wines.

Originally listed: October 2019.

Visiting Cesarini Sforza

Cesarini Sforza is the sparkling wine brand of Cantina Lavis, a co-operative winery located in the village of Lavis. Guided tours of the winery are available by appointment.

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