In 2021, Formula 1 made a significant but perhaps overlooked change. After decades of years of partnerships with French champagne makers, it turned its eyes to a new horizon and signed Ferrari Trento to serve as the podium celebration drink of choice. For the first time in F1’s history, a sparkling wine waited for drivers on the top three steps of the podium.
Ferrari Trento was established in 1902, making this year its 120th anniversary. The original drink began with a man named Giulio Ferrari, who studied the art of making French champagne in order to create a sparkling drink his home country could be proud of. Without an heir, he passed the company over to the Lunelli family, a lineage that current CEO Matteo Lunelli represents.
“Ferrari has been the celebratory toast of many important events in the world of sports, fashion, and other institutions,” Lunelli said during an interview with Jalopnik. “Formula 1, though, is the most iconic celebration in the world of sports.”
And it’s true: The champagne celebration in motorsport carries with it a long legacy, one that has been deeply improved by F1. As an F1 fan growing up, Lunelli recognized the importance of that podium celebration. As such, he initiated talks with the sport during the COVID-19 pandemic and signed a three-year deal with F1 that quickly extended to a five-year deal.
I had a chance to sample three of Ferrari Trento’s products during a lunch interview with Lunelli, and I was as impressed with the flavor as I was with the fact that I could buy this drink at my local grocery store. I’m no wine connoisseur, but the sharp bite of the podium drink, the Ferrari Brut, was like biting into a bubbling apple — which I can only imagine tastes even better after a hard-won race. It tasted like how the Italian national anthem sounds: jaunty, proud, and inexplicably fun.
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The flavor is the result of the terroir, or the environment in which the chardonnay grapes are grown, of the Trentino region. The vineyard is located on the side of a mountain, which results in a unique climate. In the day, the grapes bask in warm, Mediterranean sunshine. At night, the cold air descends from the mountaintops and chilling the grapes in the process.
“This enables our grape to achieve aromatic maturation, maintaining a well-balanced acidity that gives our wines their elegance,” Lunelli said. Essentially, the climate gives the wine its delicate fruitiness without it feeling too overwhelmingly sour, acidic, or sweet.
That flavor is also part of the reason that F1 opted to deviate from the traditional champagne path to instead pursue sparkling wine. As Lunelli said, the series “realized the excellence of our wines, our touch of Italian style, and our commitment to sustainability.”
Sustainability is a key element of this equation. Ferrari Trento has been working on sustainability since 2000, was certified as organic in 2017, and reached carbon neutrality this year. In the case of the wine world, sustainability requires not only pesticide-free growing practices but actively giving back to the community in which the vineyards are located. With F1’s recent push for sustainability as well, finding new partners with similar goals is key.
And this particular partnership has been a success. Lunelli mentioned that drivers have regularly complimented the drink and that the international profile provided by F1 has created a welcome problem: Ferrari Trento is struggling to keep up with demand in the face of record consumption.
“Formula 1 is a place of innovation,” Lunelli told me, “and it has demonstrated that it can also innovate on this side, with the new trend toward high-end sparkling wine.”