Sunday, 9 June 2013

Fine bubbles, made in Italy

In the eternal competition of sparkling wines vs Champagne,  unfortunately, Franciacorta doesn’t really get any special place on the podium, especially in the UK trade.

Probably due to an historical lack of popularity as well as more expensive prices compared to the more famous Cavas and Proseccos, sparkling Franciacortas have only a niche market in Italy and are often very difficult to sell outside their country. 
Most people don’t know the quality of these wines and can’t understand the reason of their quite important prices.

I believe that Franciacorta can be described as the closest cousin of Champagne. And although I think probably most Franciacorta producers, would not like this definition, no one can deny that these wines are the most similar in grape varieties, style, elegance and (most relevant factor in terms of costs) production technique (traditional method with a second fermentation in bottle and long ageing on lees). 

In 1995, the law clarified the distinctions in wine production in the area, by classifying the sparkling wines as DOCG and the still ones under the DOC Terre di Franciacorta.

The area of production, in the province of Brescia, Northern Italy, is characterized by a soil rich in minerals.  The near Iseo lake has quite a strong relevance on the mesoclimate, allowing warm days and cool nights that enhance the development of a good acidity.

The wines can be extremely elegant with complexity of flavours, good structure and fine bubbles. But,as Jancis Robinson states on her Oxford Companion of Wine, 'the production has often been influenced by a variation of quality and only few producers really deserve a mention'.
No doubts one of these is Berlucchi a bit of a pioneer since the '60s, but at the top of my very personal list at the moment is certainly Bellavista. Their Grand Cuvée is a splendid example of fine sparkling wine, totally comparable to a non vintage Champagne.

Top of their production is the Vittorio Moretti named after the founder and owner of the company. A wine of silky texture with persistent very fine bubbles and a backbone of acidity perfectly balanced by its elegant structure.


Don't get too shocked by what I'm about to say, but best food match I can suggest is with mortadella or lardo. 
The full fatness of this charcuterie will be completely cleared by the gentle and fine bubbles of this stylish but underrated wine
(and trust me when I say that this match has been personally tested several times!!!)