Spergola is a white grape variety indigenous to the Emilia-Romagna region of Northern Italy. Although the grape is mentioned in text at least as far back as the early 19th century, until recently, it was believed to be the same as Sauvignon Blanc. Genetic testing proved it to be a unique variety in 2001. The history of Spergola is not well known because the possible mentions prior to the 19th century can’t be guaranteed to be of Spergola due the confusion regarding its true identity. The grape is versatile and can be used in the production of still, sweet or sparkling wines. Just as with Sauvignon Blanc, Spergola has a marked acidity that balances texture or sugar in the sweet and sparkling wines. In the 18th century, it was the predominant grape grown in Emilia-Romagna but now just around 500 acres remain. The most widely grown white grapes in the present day are Malvasia, Trebbiano, and Albana.
Ca’ de Noci was a vineyard grown out of passion. Vittori, the father and agriculture teacher, planted the first vines in 1970. It wasn’t until Vittori’s sons, Giovanni and Alberto, became fully involved in 1993 that the vineyard sought organic certification and they produced their first bottles of wine. The first was Spergola. In 1998, they got creative and decided to produce bottles that underwent a secondary fermentation in the bottle, which was how their Querciole (Spergola) and Lambrusco by the name of Sottobosco were born. This bottle fermentation is when the yeast metabolizes the sugar, giving off carbon dioxide in the process. This carbon dioxide is trapped in the bottle and as it builds up, the pressure within the bottle increases, forcing the carbon dioxide into solution. This is how the bubbles in a traditional or champagne method sparkling wine are created.
In reading the literature for this week’s post, I was surprised to learn the bottle I would be sampling would be sparkling! I chose a 2019 Ca’ de Noci Querciole. The reason I was surprised it was sparkling is that the bottle looked like a standard bottle with a standard cork. The extra pressure within the bottle made it a little more challenging than normal to open and once the cork was removed, it grew significantly in size. The wine was a medium lemon color that had persistent, delicate bubbles rising to the surface from the base of the goblet. The aromas consisted of baked brioche, lemon pith, green apple, minerality, and freshly risen bread dough. The mousse coated my palate and massaged my tongue while I held the wine in the mouth. It was a low alcohol dry wine with a level of acidity that would make this a wonderful food wine for the rich foods of the Emilia Romagna region (such as Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Mortadella). The notes of lemon pith, under ripe thimbleberries, sour green apples, salinity, and chalk character were all evident. This was a vibrant wine that was a departure from the chardonnay and pinot based standards I’m accustomed to consuming but it was intriguing and fun. I can definitely understand how people believed Spergola was related to Sauvignon Blancs, especially those from Sancerre!