WINE NOTES – March & April 2022, Issue 79

A HIDDEN TREASURE FROM ITALY

@WINEPOSTER BY CASSIE M

Those of you who already know me from the wine business will be well aware that I am all about great food and classy wines. Like Franciacorta, for example, the hidden gem of premium sparkling wines. I know what some of you may be thinking: “Is this the Italian Champagne?” To call this style a Champagne would be as insulting as cutting pasta with a knife in front of an Italian Nonna (aka an Italian grandmother). They consider pasta to be part of their religion, so that’s a big no-no. But… are there any similarities? Let’s find out. In one word, Franciacorta describes an area, a production method, but also the name of the wine. The area is located in the foothills of the Italian Alps. You will find this treasure of wine areas in Lombardy in northern Italy, between Milan and Lake Garda. If you haven’t visited this part of Italy yet, you have my personal recommendation. Why? You can enjoy shopping, art and historical landmarks during the daytime (as an example, do not miss the beautiful Duomo – the Milan cathedral that is the second biggest in the world), and you can still make it to any of the small, picturesque villages on Lake Garda in the evening to savour a glass of sparkling under the stars with your loved one. All in one day! Any wine-loving tourist will of course visit Franciacorta on the way, for a winery tour and tasting. One of the wineries I recommend is Bellavista. Here they make world-class sparkling wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, in 200 hectares of vineyards divided into hundreds of plots, which all have different soils and conditions. They produce one unique wine from each plot! This is an excellent opportunity for winemakers to achieve a selected mix of wines every year and blend them together to attain perfection. There is breathtaking nature with the Alps in the background, and the vineyards have amazing first-class views of Lake Iseo and the entire Po Valley. Different styles of Franciacorta have different ageing preferences, but what they have in common with Champagne is the second fermentation in the bottle (traditional method) to build up CO2 that dissolves into the wine to make those precious bubbles we all adore. Champagne produces approximately 300 million bottles per year and Franciacorta around 17.6 million. Of all wines produced, only about 20 per cent are exported to other countries – which makes the Italian choice more exclusive in many ways.

We also cannot overlook the fact that the whole production area is under the highest quality and strictest forms of appellation laws in Italy – the DOCG Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita – which you will notice on every bottle as a certified seal. Flavour profiles can often vary from fresh citrus, crushed green apples and stone fruits like peach and apricot blossoms to freshly baked brioche and soft yeasty tones. Fresh acidity, and the best of all – the bubbles. They tend to be of the finest kind, resulting in a pleasant, thick and fluffy mousse on top. Franciacorta can be enjoyed without food as a celebratory drink for any occasion. With food I would suggest ripe cheeses, chicken with a creamy sauce, seafood (including of course oysters) and a creamy risotto, just to mention a few classics. As you will now have realised, there are many differences and similarities between Champagne and Franciacorta. And the best way to find out more is to try them yourself in a tasting. If you are interested to know more about the fast-trending Franciacorta, or book any other wine tasting, do not hesitate to contact me. Cheers!

Vinoteca Barolo Urb. Doña Lola 23-24, Calahonda (Mijas Costa) Tel. (+34) 666 324 214 vinotecabarolo@gourmetyvinos.com www.vinotecabarolo.com

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