Tomorrow/today (it's almost 2 a.m. and I'm watching 'An Excellent Year', a film I love... also because I love Provence and France in general) is the last day of the year... and I'm sure you too will uncork at least one bottle of bubbly! I still haven't decided what to uncork with Davide, but I'll think about it in a few hours! ? I decided to take the opportunity of this New Year's Eve 2018 to notify you of the 20 wines I awarded as the 20 best Italian sparkling wines in this 2018 edition of my Guida Vini Spumanti 500 bubbles in 500!

Stage 1: Northern Italy

The best Italian sparkling wines I have tasted are:

Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Dorigo

Blanc de Noir Dosage Zero 2010 ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Pinot Noir | Vinification: stainless steel and French oak barrels | Yeast: 60 months | Sugars: | 12.5 % vol | 2,000 bottles | 25 โ‚ฌ |

It is a beautiful bright straw yellow with a very fine and persistent perlage. The nose is delicately intense, complex and elegant. Notes of chamomile, yeast, butter biscuits, white chocolate, pear, thyme, white pepper and vanilla.ย  In the mouth, the bubbles are perfect and the flavour enchants. It has a slightly oxidised note that gives it complexity and is supported by great freshness. The flavour is elegant, quite savoury and with a very long finish that fades into citrus notes. It goes well with first courses with tasty sauces.

South Tyrol: Lorenz Martini

Alto Adige Brut 'Comitissa' Reserveย  2012ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

DOC Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 40% Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero, 30% Chardonnay | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 46 months | Sugars: 2 g/l | 13 % volย  | 14,800 bottles | 25 โ‚ฌ |

Intense straw yellow in colour, crystal clear, with a fine, continuous perlage. Delicate and complex nose: notes of apple, sage, flint, candied citron, bread crust, white chocolate and salted caramel. On the palate it is decisive, intense, soft and creamy, fresh, savoury, with a very persistent almond finish. Harmonious, it leaves the mouth really clean. Excellent for a quality aperitif, perfect with marinated or grilled fatty fish.

Lombardy: Biondelli

Franciacorta Brut Nature 'Premiรฉre Dame' 2011ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

DOCG Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Chardonnay | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 60 months | Sugars: 0 g/l | 12.5 % vol | 5,000 bottles | 25 โ‚ฌ |

It has made incredible growth compared to the 2010 vintage. A beautiful, bright, intense straw yellow with golden highlights. The nose enchants with its intensity and breadth: honey, pastry, biscuit, sweet liquorice, avocado, quince, vanilla, candied citron. In the mouth, it is crisp and intense, only to soften after a few moments. The flavour is balsamic and mineral, with an aftertaste of medicinal herbs and ripe peaches. A meditation wine!

Piedmont: Gabriele Scaglione

Alta Langa Brut Riserva 'MC' 2011ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

DOCG Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Pinot Noir | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 46 months | Sugars: 4 g/lย  | 12 % vol | 1,500 bottles | 18 โ‚ฌ |

Brilliant straw yellow, fine and numerous perlage forming a persistent crown. The nose, delicate and elegant, made me fall in love and the taste gave me the coup de grace! Hints of vanilla, maracuja, sage, peppermint, white chocolate, cherries in spirit, hazelnut, caramel, lemon zest and pink pepper. On the palate, it is intense, creamy, savoury, fresh, with an extraordinary flavour of ripe fruit and sweet spices, ending in a citrusy finish and a light hazelnut toast. Great structure, very long finish and excellent drinkability. For meditation and great cheese.

Liguria: Durin

Pas Dosรฉย  'Bร sura Obscura'ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Pigato | Vinification: steel and French oak barrels | Yeast: 18 months | Sugars: | 12.5 % vol | 6,000 bottles | 18 โ‚ฌ |

It is an intense and brilliant straw yellow, with some golden reflections. The perlage is fine, very numerous and persistent. On the nose, the aromas are very pleasant and distinctive. Delicately complex, it has notes of vanilla, butter, wax, hazelnuts, pear, peaty nuances and a briny finish. In the mouth, the bubble is creamy, with an excellent flavour and great savouriness. Fresh and elegant, it has a nice long finish. Perfect as a counterpoint to foods with a sweet tendency such as shellfish, goose, or a not very mature ham... but I assure you that with pappardelle with freshly picked chiodini mushrooms it was excellent!

Stage 2: Central Italy

The best Italian sparkling wines I have tasted are:

Tuscany: Felsina

Brut 2012ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 40% Sangiovese, 25% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay, 15% wine from the previous year | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 32 months | Sugars: | 12 % vol | 6,000 bottles | 22 โ‚ฌ |

Intense straw yellow with a fine, numerous perlage forming a persistent crown. On the nose a very intense note of dried tomatoes, toasted bread, vanilla, oregano and eucalyptus honey. In the mouth there is a perfect correspondence to the nose and a great creaminess of the bubble. Particularly elegant, soft, fresh, with good structure and a rather long finish. Not for everyone, but certainly capable of giving great satisfaction. Perfect with grilled vegetables, aubergine parmigiana, caponata, very tasty and even savoury cheeses.

Tuscany: Tenuta Mariani

Rosรฉ Brut 'Secret Fรปt de Chรชne' 2015ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Rosato Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Sangiovese | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 18 months | Sugars: 6 g/l | 12.5 % vol | 2,500 bottles | 18 โ‚ฌ |

Splendid soft and brilliant pink with bronze reflections. The perlage is not particularly numerous but is very fine and forms a very abundant and persistent mousse. The nose is very distinctive but very pleasant, with aromas of ripe fruit. Distinct notes of peach, melon, vanilla, pomegranate, blackberry, banana, dark chocolate, amaretto. In the mouth it is silky, balanced, soft, fresh, overall very elegant and very long. As an aperitif accompanied by marinated anchovies or a good Tuscan crudo.

Brands: Bruscia

Bianchello del Metauro Brut 'Conte Giulio' 2012ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

DOC Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Bianchello | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 36 months | Sugars: 6.5 g/l | 12 % vol | 3,000 bottles | 20 โ‚ฌ |

It presents itself beautifully: bright golden yellow. Fine and very numerous perlage forming a very persistent mousse. The nose is delicate, elegant and broad, with notes of vanilla, bergamot, candied citron, yeast, sage, acacia flowers, hazelnut, white chocolate, apricot, herbs, marjoram, graphite. In the mouth, it is crisp, yet silky. Very fresh, excellent correspondence to the nose, brackish note on the finish. Tingly, great structure and very elegant long finish. Really well made. Perfect on its own, it excels with hard cheeses.

Umbria: Stefano Grilli La Palazzola

Riesling Brut 2013ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico Ancestrale | 100% Riesling | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 36 months | Sugars: | 12.5 % vol | 13,000 bottles | 25 โ‚ฌ |

It is an intense, brilliant straw yellow with a fine, numerous and continuous perlage. On the nose candied pear, cedar, dry hay, pastry and tuff fade into a hint of hydrocarbons. Silky bubbles. It enters the mouth intense, very fresh, savoury, with good structure and great elegance. Very long orange peel finish. It goes very well with shellfish, possibly steamed or in cruditรฉ. Also absolutely to be tried with duck with orange, after an appetiser of crostini with foie gras and caramelised Tropea onions.

Latium: Cantina Del Tufaio

Pas Dosรฉ "AmmiRose " 2005ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Rosato Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Merlot | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 120 months | 12.5 % vol | 350 bottles | 45 โ‚ฌ |

It is a beautiful cherry pink with powdery reflections. The perlage is fine, very numerous and persistent. The nose is intertwined with notes of raspberry, strawberry, apple, bitter cocoa, blackboard chalk and oregano flowers. In the mouth it is crisp, round, very fresh, slightly savoury, elegant and persistent. Perfect on its own at the end of the evening in sweet company, but it also goes well with first courses with savoury sauces and lightly cooked veal.

N.B. Ammirose was born as an experiment from a volcanic land with a vocation for sparkling wine and for wines of depth. It is a classic method sparkling wine pas dosรฉ, aged on the lees for 10 years in a tufa cave excavated by hand in 1881, at a constant temperature of 12.5ยฐ. From bottling, which takes place in the cave, to remuage on pupitre, to degorgemรจnt by disgorging ร  la voilรจ, these steps are carried out entirely by hand.

Stage 3: Southern Italy

The best Italian sparkling wines I have tasted are:

Campania: Masseria Campito

Asprinio di Aversa 'Priezza' 2016ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

PDO Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Asprinio | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 36 months | Sugars: | 12 % vol | 6,000 bottles | 11 โ‚ฌ |

It owes its name to an old Neapolitan word meaning 'great joy' and is well suited to the opening of sparkling wine at a time of celebration. In fact, when I saw it, I immediately thought it was a colour that gives great satisfaction to the eyes! Brilliant and beautiful golden yellow, it has a fine and very numerous perlage that forms a persistent froth. The nose is very fresh and has very pleasant citrus notes: orange, lemon, tangerine, bergamot blend into a note of freshly baked hazelnut brittle. The finish has memories of caramel not yet ready. In the mouth, it is crisp and gives a lash of acidity, rightly savoury and very fresh, balanced above all by the softness of a taste that is enriched with hints of yeast. The finish is long. The perfect pairing is with seafood risottos with shellfish.

Apulia: Franco Di Filippo

Ecstasy in Harmony 2010 Pas Dosรฉย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Moscato Reale di Trani | Vinification: steel | Yeasts: 12 months | Sugars: | 12 % vol | 2,500 bottles | 15 โ‚ฌ |

The colour is enchanting, a very intense and brilliant golden yellow. The perlage is very fine and very numerous. The nose is an explosion of aromas: apricot, candied citron, saffron, date, chestnut honey. In the mouth it is intense, with a creamy yet crisp bubble. Justly savoury, fresh, with a mineral note that becomes increasingly important, it surprises with its great elegance. The finish is bitterish and very long. Definitely a wine capable of conquering even the most sceptical palate. Perfect on its own, it goes well with blue cheeses, goat's cheese, shellfish and sea urchins.

Apulia: D'Araprรฌ

Brut 'Riserva Nobile' 2013ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

DOC Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Bombino bianco | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 36 months | Sugars: | 12.5 % vol | 9,000 bottles | 20 โ‚ฌ |

Intense, brilliant straw yellow with golden reflections. Fine and very numerous perlage forming a persistent crown. The nose has rich, fat and complex aromas: raw butter, pastry, banana, white chocolate, pineapple, hazelnuts and lots of vanilla. In the mouth it is creamy, very savoury, with evolving notes, good freshness and great balance. Wonderful with spaghetti alla carbonara.

Basilicata: Cantine del Notaio

La Stipula Brut 2012ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

DOC Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 90% Gros Manseng, 10% Chardonnay | Vinification: steel and French oak barrels | Yeast: 18 months | Sugars: 0 g/l | 13 % vol | 8,000 bottles | 18 โ‚ฌ |

As soon as I poured it, I was amazed: the colour is extraordinary! An intense, brilliant golden yellow, with a very fine, numerous and truly persistent perlage. The nose is a poem of fragrances, all centred on aromatic herbs: sage, lemon thyme and marjoram that fade happily into soft nougat, hazelnut brittle, white chocolate cream and biscuit. And then more caramelised and roasted peanuts, fresh pineapple and a very light note of cumin. In the mouth, the bubble is crisp, the taste is intense and complex, the cumin becomes more persistent, ginger is added, a medicinal note that blends well with the white chocolate no longer in cream. Very fresh, with a nice savouriness, great elegance and structure and long on the finish. It goes well with grilled fish, roast meat, fresh cheeses. I also paired it with delicious beef and sausage meatballs with stewed carrots, celery and onion, cooked in broth and wine!

Calabria: Santa Venere

Brut 'SP1' 2014ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Gaglioppo | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 18 months | 12.5 % vol | 4,000 bottles | 22 โ‚ฌ |

Bright, deep straw yellow. The perlage is quite fine and continuous. The nose has a heady scent of not yet fully ripe watermelon, aromatic herbs, saltiness, white peach, graphite, almond and a bergamot finish. In the mouth, it is creamy, vertical, very fresh, savoury... you really feel the sea! Excellent nose-mouth correspondence. Long finish. Perfect for a fruity and fresh aperitif!

Stage 4: Islands

The best Italian sparkling wines I have tasted are:

Sicily: Of Ties

Terre Siciliane Grillo Extra Brut 2013ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

IGT Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Green Grillo | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 24 months | Sugars: | 12 % vol | 3,000 bottles | 18 โ‚ฌ |

It is pale, bright golden yellow with a very fine, numerous and persistent perlage. The nose is intense and very good: notes of hazelnut, bread crust, soft amaretto, candied citron, coffee powder, white chocolate, unripe white peach, chamomile flowers, date. In the mouth, it enters creamy and very fresh, with a nice savouriness and great structure. Excellent correspondence to the nose, overall elegant. Certainly a wine that will not please everyone, but which I am sure will make those who understand it fall in love with it. Extraordinary value for money. I paired it with a Gragnano pasta made just for it with aubergine and guanciale fillets blended in the same wine with aromatic herbs. Divine.

Sicily: Musita

"Passocalcara' Brutย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Chardonnay | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 36 months | Sugars: 1.8 g/l | 12 % vol | 2,000 bottles | 21 โ‚ฌ |

I fell in love with this particular wine. At first I admit I looked at it almost with suspicion: but how? A pure Chardonnay in Sicily? Stealing the heart of a lover of the great indigenous white varieties of this splendid land like me was not easy... yet he managed it in less than an instant! This great international grape variety interprets the terroir in which it is grown to perfection. Intense straw yellow with splendid golden reflections. The perlage is very fine, very numerous and persistent. On the nose, a broad and distinctive bouquet dominated by lemon marmalade, bergamot, orange juice, caramelised figs, chestnut honey and fresh natural dates, fading into a pleasant mentholated finish. In the mouth it is really delicious! The bubble is creamy. Acidic, vertical, savoury. Perfect correspondence to the nose, the flavour is even more intense of lemon marmalade. Elegant and persistent and outrageously good. Goes well with red meat or tuna in tartare or prepared as a lightly cooked tagliata.

Sicily: La Gelsomina

Etna Brut 'La Gelsomina' 2013ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

DOC Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Nerello Mascalese | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 18 months | Sugars: 5 g/l | 12.5 % vol | 1,350 bottles | 22 โ‚ฌ |

It is an intense, bright golden yellow with a fine, numerous and persistent perlage. The nose is really good: caramelised orange peel with white chocolate, cumin, caper flowers, basil, apple, graphite. In the mouth, excellent correspondence to the nose. It is enriched with spicy notes of cloves and cinnamon and a pleasant smoky note. Creamy bubble, elegant, very tasty, fresh... one glass leads to another! I paired it with spaghettoni with Salina caper pesto with hazelnuts, evo oil and parmesan cheese. Also try it with preparations made with Bronte pistachios and slightly fatty semi-hard cheeses.

Sardinia: Quartomoro

Brut 'Q Quartomoro'ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Bianco Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Vermentino | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 18 months | 12.5 % vol | 5,000 bottles | 19 โ‚ฌ |

A beautiful bright golden yellow. The perlage is fine, numerous and persistent. The nose is fat and rich, with hints of toasted and buttered bread, fig, chamomile, caper fruit, rock salt. In the mouth it has a nice backbone, the bubbles are crisp and very pleasant, lots of acidity which gives it a nice ageing potential. Lovely salinity on the citrusy and very long finish. Paired with the whole meal, try it with a sheep hamburger in respect of its territory of origin. A pleasant alternative paired with shellfish, which it balances with its savouriness. Among other things, I paired it with a spaghettone pasta with camoni tomato sauce and pecorino cheese... delicious!

Sardinia: Surrau Vineyards

Rosรฉ Brut 'Surrau' 2013ย ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜‹๐Ÿ†

VSQ Rosato Spumante Metodo Classico | 100% Cannonau | Vinification: steel | Yeast: 24 months | Sugars: 8 g/l | 12.5 % vol | 6,000 bottles | 25 โ‚ฌ |

It has a beautiful onion skin pink colour, with a fine, numerous and very persistent perlage. The nose is very distinctive and really pleasant. Lime blossom, caper blossom, salty notes, rosemary and white pepper blend into a hint of freshly baked bread crust. In the mouth it enters intense, the bubble is crisp, a nice acidic vein blends well with the final savouriness. The taste is that of a ripe strawberry seasoned with a dash of lemon and pepper. Perfect with all raw shellfish or with delicate condiments, or for a shrimp tempura.

Creating the first edition of 500 bubbles in 500 was an epic task, because being a first edition, it was the first time for everything. The first time I was cataloguing over 2000 samples of Italian sparkling wines arrived from all corners of Italy. The first time I tasted so many wines in the space of relatively few months. The first time I was designing the layout of a wine guide and trying to put together a harmonious and coherent puzzle of tastings. The first time I was writing a book with so many pages. The first time I was managing such an impressive job with a typography, also in terms of copies. And it is only the beginning.

Writing a guidebook like this, with the quality of this one, even in terms of photographic content, is a very onerous task, both in terms of time and money.ย But the satisfaction is immense.

Not everything was as perfect as I would have liked, but I worked to the best of my (limited) financial resources with theaim to provide you with a product that will make you fall in love with Italian bubbles.ย 

I hope with all my heart that these wines (and the other 480 selected sparkling wines) will accompany you on the most special occasions of your 2018. ?

Cheers โค

Chiara

PS. Have you already bought your copy of 500 bubbles in 500 Sparkling Wines Guide - Ed. 2018?

P.P.S. As always for the photos I thank UniversoFoto.com for providing me with the splendid Sony RX100M4 with which I took almost all the photos in the Guide.

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