Make the Holidays Sparkle with Franciacorta

logo-franciacortaNothing says festive like a bottle of sparkling wine.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Festivus, or any other holiday, we all love to ring in the new year with a sparkling libation.

Sparking wines are made all over the world.  From the world famous Champagne region in France, to surprising sparkling Shiraz from Australia, there are delicious options everywhere.  But none of my favorite classic sparklers comes from Italy.  No, it’s not Prosecco, or even Asti Spumante, but rather something that is made in the Methode Classico (or champagnoise), from the Lombardy region in the north:  Franciacorta.

I have been fortunate to experience the many colors and flavors of Franaciacorta with Franciacorta USA’s partnership with Balzac Communications.  We have been treated to an annual tasting of several different examples of this iconic Italian bubbly; recently, I was able to attend an informal and delicious tasting of three very special wines at A16 in San Francisco.

contadicastaldi_roseFrst up, one of my favorite producers from previous tastings, the Contadi Castalidi Franciacorta Brut Rosé NV, which is a blend of 35% Pinot Noir and 65% Chardonnay.  This budget friendly pink is a great example of why you should pay attention to this region.  With light fruity flavors, brioche notes, and velvety plum notes, you will love the holiday wallet friend price point of under $25.

 

 

 

 

 

img_2207The next selection was a gorgeous 2012 Le Marchesine Saten, which in the DOGCG of Franciacorta, must be a Blanc de Blanc from Chardonnay and or Pinot Bianco (Blanc). Slightly more expensive than the the other two at $30, it’s still a very friendly price point for sparkling of this quality.  With spicy white flowers and bright notes of citrus layered over fresh cream, this is the perfect mid point in this lovely trio of wines.

 

img_2204Finally, the all-star of the evening was the Biondelli Franciacorta Brut, an elegant 100% Chardonnay start hat is bottled aged no less than 2 years.  Officially certified organic since 2014, the 8 hectare vineyard is hand harvested and gently pressed and fermented in stainless steel barrels.  The gorgeous floral notes of this sexy sipper give way to peach blossom, toasted almonds, hazelnuts, and just a hint of citrus.  This is my top pick and even at an average price of $20 (if you can find it) you should be buying it by the case.

Franciacorta is not the poor man’s Champange.  Despite the user friendly price points on many of these fine wines, the quality and flavor profiles are world class.  Franciacorta wines are widely available at better wine shops as well as online.  Experiment, try a few, and enjoy this holiday season!

Special thanks to Franciacorta USA for sharing these delights!

 

 

 

9 comments

  • Hey Thea, I am not a experienced wine taster but like to try new wines and read about them, I have a question that Biondelli Franciacorta Brut is a wine in aged stainless steel barrels, but I have heard and read at many places that Oak barrels are way better than others because they help in processing aroma and color? Since I am a newbie please go easy on me, you have a wonderful writing style btw.

    • winebratsf

      HI Mark!
      WELL! That si a great question. In truth, oak is not BETTER but oak is different. The primary reason to age in oak is to impart flavor and texture, not to use a better material. When wine was first created, it was fermented and aged in clay amphorae. Then barrels, Today, we have concrete eggs, wood barrels of various sorts, and stainless steel barrels as well as tanks.

      in the case of sparkling, using stainless steel gives a crisp, clean, lean chardonnay base (in this Franciacorta). Using a neutral barrel (2+ years old and used) would also create a similar but not as bright. Oak does indeed impact color as well as flavor, but here, it's different not better. I'm a huge fan of steel aged or neutral aged chardonnay in a still wine. It is a great alternative to Sav Blanc for example, and is clean, crisp, citrus driven and bright. Add bubbles and VOILA! However, if you want a richer, creamy, buttery, spicy, rich wine, you would use oak to help develop these flavors. CA Sparkling, Champagne and others often do this.

      So, basically, it's all about style and preference.

      And thank you for reading!

      Happy new year (what are you pouring?)

      Thea

  • laragazzadevino

    Franciacorta has come a long way in the past 10 years, I tasted some dazzling ones at VinItaly this year-but the price-points were a bit painful on the best ones. That said, it is true that the effort going into these wines and the methods are not to be overlooked. Most people in Europe (where I've spent the past couple of years) only know about Prosecco, Cava and Champagne. They aren't aware of Cremants or Franciacortas (unless they are from that country). And getting more exposure for these wines is a good thing for everyone 🙂

    • winebratsf

      You are so right. There are some that are truly pricy status – there are so many that are affordable.
      I love that such effort has gone in to making world class sparking at the $20US mark. Even domestic sparklers at that price point are typically not the same quality.

      And yes! You say sparkling and people say Prosecco, Champagne, or Cava.

      I am very excited to be going to the Alsace Festival here in California next month when the focus is on Cremants – another underated, undiscoverd gem.

      Let's give these wines some love!

  • ggnitaly84

    "Franciacorta is not the poor man’s Champagne," so so right. It's something to be proud of in its own right and I am a HUGE fan (while prosecco is a little "eh" for me at this point. There was an amazing Franciacorta fair in Florence two years ago where I quite rightly got tipsy and met some smaller producers up north. It would absolutely be worth going around the region and seeing a bit more about how it's made up close and personal.

    • winebratsf

      I have had a couple of proseccos that I've enjoyed but honestly, the flavor of Glera is just not my thing. I've really only had the pleasure of 10 or so Franciacortas, but I would love to go to that fair! I hope that by continuing to write about them and share them with my friends that we can get more imported.

      When are we going on that tour? 😉 I will have to plan that trip! It sounds divine and I haven't really explored much of that part of Italy.

  • Love the idea of artful living. These were a gift a long time ago . Happy Holidays to you and your family! Thank you

  • Ann

    The wines look amazing. Will have to try them out. Thanks for the read. kindle books

  • Happy Holidays to you and your family! Thank you

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