Wine regions

Discover Oltrepò Pavese: Italy's best-kept secret in sparkling wine

Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico is really the better kept secret among Italian sparkling wines
Discover Oltrepò Pavese: Italy's best-kept secret in sparkling wine

Photo by Claudio Cesaro

Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico sparkling wine is something worth trying. Period.

But if before now you had never heard about it, you are in good company. Oltrepò Pavese wine is rather unknown, even within Italy, and it hasn’t reached any fame in the international market.

But the lack of fame of this wine isn’t due to its lack of quality, rather the opposite in fact!

As it happens often in Italy, Oltrepò Pavese is also the name of the region where the wine is made. The wine production area is located in the countryside of Lombardy and has only recently gained recognition for its wines. The area is small and does not have the same production capacity as other larger districts in Italy. As a result, it has not yet been able to gain a foothold in the global market. Bottom line, sparkling wines from here are not as well-known as others.

Oltrepò Pavese the area

As said, Oltrepò Pavese is first the name of an area. An area that happens to make excellent sparkling wine. And, what is it that makes this region great for wine production?

Let’s have a closer look…

The Oltrepò Pavese is located south of Milan, in Lombardy, and sandwiched between Piedmont, Emilia Romagna and Liguria regions. It is unique in its terroir. In fact, it is one of the largest areas in Italy that is located on the hillsides of the Apennines.

Hills before the Apennines

Photo by Lorenzo Bignami

The soils are rich with limestone, clay, and sand. This creates a unique combination of microclimates and soil types that are perfect for producing high-quality wines. The combination of warm and cold temperatures and the variety of terroirs give more complexity and depth to these wines.

Oltrepò Pavese, the sparkling wine

Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico sparkling wine has nothing to envy to the better known Franciacorta and Trento DOC bottles.

Like the latter, Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG is made using the traditional method, or Metodo Classico. So, the secondary fermentation of the wine taking place inside the bottle and allows for the development of complexity and depth in the wine.

Here, also the choice of grape variety isn’t very different from other top-quality Italian sparkling wines. In Oltrepò Pavese they use Chardonnay, Pinot Noir mainly but Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio can be included in the wine blend. Another important fact is that the wine must age for a minimum of 15 months before it is released. And this adds yet more layers to the wine you will sip.

Oltrepò Pavese - Estates not to miss!

Castello di Stefanago

The Castello di Stefanago winery is a little gem in Oltrepò Pavese. They have been producing wines for generations and since years ago they have chosen to go organic. Not only that, here there is a great attention to the preservation of biodiversity. The vineyards are arranged in small plots, spread throughout 135 hectares of meadows, forests, orchards, and arable farmland. To add to the uniqueness of this winery, the cellars are set in a dramatic XI century castle.

At Catello di Stefanago they focus on natural wine, where the human intervention in the production are reduced to the minimum.

While they bottle reds, whites as well sparkling wines, I personally love their sparkling wine selection.

Emilia Pennac

Emilia Pennac winery is another great wine producer in Oltrepò Pavese. Like Castello di Stefanago, they have their vine parcels spread thoughout many hectars of land. This encourages a more diverse biodiversity which in turns helps the natural balance and self regulation of the area.

Emilia Pennac like her father before her, produces wines following organic principles. They allow wild yeasts, spontaneous fermentation, they believe in adding as little as possible and letting the grapes and the terroir speak for themselves. The results are great. I’m really fond of their whites, orange wines!

I hope you enjoyed this short guide to Oltrepò Pavese wine and some of my favourite wineries in the area.

Are you travelling to central Italy soon? Are you just thinking to plan a little tour of the region? Reach out on Twitter or Instagram to tell me more about you and your love for wine.

It will be great to hear from you!