For an Italian #winelover living in Paris like me, who admittedly drinks French, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese and Chilean wines on a weekly basis, finding Ferrari Perlé Trento DOC (€30 at 75015) or Letrari Zero TrentoDOC (€48 at Rap Paris 10ème) is a tall order. But it is even harder to find Franciacorta sparkling wine (even if Casa Paladin does have a French importer). You can find Prosecco Bosco del Merlo but not their excellent Franciacorta Cru Perdu or Satèn or Dosage Zero… WHY?!
Well, first of all, the French prefer to drink French. That’s only fair. I don’t like Sauvignon blanc but I love Sancerre J I don’t like Merlot but I love Pomerol, right?
But the thing is that not even importers who fall in love with Franciacorta are able to defend this expensive traditional method sparkling wine. Expensive? Or a fair price? Let’s see.
I won’t go into the classic pre-conceived ideas such as:
- Is LA Franciacorta a real terroir? (See the free-access Autumn 2015 Magazine on our website)
- An excuse for rich industrialists from Brescia to invest in land?
- The sole prerogative of the Milanese for the aperitivo?
- Should Lombardy be made an autonomous region? Let’s skip politics…
- Marketing hype has pushed up prices.
Let’s focus on the real facts
If Spain’s most important contribution to the wine world is Jerez/ Xerès/Sherry … then Franciacorta’s most important contribution to the world of sparkling wine is SATEN!
SATEN is not only a Blanc de blancs (Chardonnay, Pinot blanc) but a wine whose carbonic gas levels are limited to 4.5 bars instead of 6 bars maximum for sparkling wines according to technical protocols. So that means softness in the mouth and a creamy, not too rich wine that makes an ideal companion for the entire meal. It is a Brut by definition but the Brut range in terms of sugar is broad, so I would recommend the “Extra Brut” limit (6g/L), specifically the Quadra and Biondelli Satèn as selected in Gilbert & Gaillard tastings and online wine guide.
This softness on the palate can also be found in Prosecco Sur Lie, which is frizzante (pétillant), so even lower in carbonic pressure (2.5-3 bars?) but with less finesse and also less time with lees contact as it is not filtered.
LONG LEES MATURATION or what the French call Affinage Sur Lattes
Here we are not talking about the terrible 9-month CAVA… A new style has just been defined: the Franciacorta RISERVA with a minimum of 60 months ageing! The “classic” Pas Dosé, Brut, Extra Brut, Satèn, Rosé cannot be released until 25 months after the harvest.
For Millesimato (specifying the vintage on the bottle) 37 months after harvest are required before release, rising to 67 months for Riserva (which does mean 60 months minimum lees contact).
Therefore, Franciacorta is not expensive - time is money! And winery owners need to be wealthy to produce such a wine due to the expense involved in keeping such treasures in the cellar for a long period.
THE LOMBARDY WINE REGION: From Lake to Lake
Visiting LA Franciacorta region where IL Franciacorta wine is produced is the perfect excuse to visit Lake Iseo in Brescia Province, with its freshwater fish and typical culinary specialties. It is the starting point for visiting the glacial lakes in the Italian Alps, seeing Cremona and Stradivarius violins, and experiencing Bergamo and its Swiss scent and Valcalepio. Most importantly of all, it is the starting point for discovering the Lombardy wine region with its Moscato di Scanzo (BG), Oltrepo Pavese Pinot Noir (PV) and cheeses, its Valtellina (SD Province), astonishing Nebbiolo vineyards and going east towards Veneto, Lake Garda’s white Lugana and Rosé di Valtènesi (i.e. Costa Ripa) for summer time or sunny days all year long!
THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DOCG
Yes, this year they are celebrating the designation of origin’s creation in 1967, subsequently to enter the top quality DOCG category in 1995 and the 1st sparkling wine to secure the title in Italy. The first bottles of DOCG were released in 1997, if you followed my explanations on lees contact!
Keep tuned in on the Franciacorta.net website for events
My present to Franciacorta producers is that I will keep drinking their wines and writing about them!