Ah, to be Italian, as Franciacorta is:
Ah, to be Italian, as Franciacorta is:
Milan is fabulous enough, but add a Franciacorta happy hour in more than 50 clubs, wine shops, wine bars and restaurants in Milan, and you have one incredible city-wide party!
That is what is happening in 7 days time in Milan, on May 27th.
Not only will bubble-induced happiness be spread over the city, but there will be special tastings for wine enthusiasts and experts with the best sommelier in Lombardy. Guests will learn everything they want to know about the best sparkling wines of Italy.
Be there next year?
There was a bubbly star at Wine Enthusiast’s 25th anniversary BASH at New York’s Hudson Hotel this past week — and it was our very own Franciacorta!
Guests at Franciacorta’s booth constantly commented that these were the best wines at the tasting, and we believe…we can’t say for sure…that we had some repeat visitors too.
the calm before the storm…
Cheers to Wine Enthusiast and Franciacorta sparkling wines for one great party!
We are pleased to share with you a delightful sparkling pairing for your week. This semi-sweet dish would be lovely with an off-dry or rosé Franciacorta. Salute!
Butternut Squash & Potato Gratin with Walnut Crust
1 butternut squash (about 2 lb.), peeled
2 Idaho potatoes (about 1-1/4 lb. total), peeled
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 Tbs. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs combined with 2 Tbs. melted butter
Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8×8-inch (2-qt.) glass or ceramic baking dish. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and fibers. Slice the squash and potatoes about 1/8 inch thick (use a mandolin if you have one). Line the bottom of the baking dish with a layer of squash (overlapping slightly), season lightly with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a little of the Parmigiano, and drizzle with a little of the cream. Cover with a layer of potato slices, season with salt, pepper, Parmigiano, and cream. Repeat with the remaining squash and potatoes until the dish is full, ending with a top layer of squash, seasoned and topped with any remaining cheese and cream. (You may have extra squash.) Press down lightly to distribute the cream and compact the layers. The last layer of squash should be just sitting in the cream, but not covered by it. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the vegetables feel tender when poked with a thin, sharp knife (check the middle layer), about 1 hour and 10 minutes.
Thanks, Fine Cooking, for this delicious recipe! See it here.
It’s nice to be noticed. A glance, a summary, a good long read… we are mentioned twice in the New York Times this month. Looks like premium Italian bubbles are here to stay!
Click on our titles for the two pieces below:
I think we’ll pour some Franciacorta to celebrate!
Elisabetta Tosi gives Palate Press readers a condensed course in Franciacorta!
In Italy, where champagne imports reach more than seven million bottles annually, many wine producers who are in love with this product have tried over the years to create something similar. But France is France, and Italy is Italy: it’s impossible to produce the same wine from a different terroir, even if the method, climate and grapes themselves (chardonnay and pinot noir) are the same.
Nevertheless, there are some areas Italy where very fine and elegant classic sparkling wines are produced. Among them, Franciacorta, near the city of Brescia in Lombardy, is the most famous for its production of sparkling wines produced exclusively by the classic method used in Champagne.
Today, the front label on the bottles of these wines reads simply “Franciacorta.” This one term defines the growing area, the production method, and the wine itself. All of Europe boasts only ten such privileged wines, and only three of them are made by refermentation in the bottle: Champagne, Cava (from Spain) and Franciacorta – and in this area just 3% of the total production (330,000 bottles/year), is pas dose — or dosage zero, or brut nature, as you prefer).
In France, the addition of the sweetened liqueur during dosage traditionally solved a specific problem: to produce pleasant and drinkable wines made from grapes that were harvested while somewhat unripe , and to maintain acidity levels necessary for the process of sparkling wine. Franciacorta is a different terroir, with morainic soil and slightly higher average temperatures; the whole region in general enjoys the beneficial, moderating effects of Lake Iseo in its center.
In this region, Francesco Iacono, researcher and winemaker, is the general manager of a renowned company, Arcipelago Fratelli Muratori, with four estates: Villa Crespia in Franciacorta; Rubbia al Colle in Suvereto, Tuscany; Giardini Arimei on the island of Ischia; and Oppida Aminea in Campania region. Francesco is convinced that Franciacorta is the ideal region for producing excellent dosage zero sparkling wines. To show how they produce their dosage zero, Iacono developed an original, educational format that brought people in as winemakers-for-a-day. As a blogger, I was recently invited to be part of this group.
We experienced the process of production of a classical method sparkling in three tastings. “First of all, we are going to taste two base wines (100% Chardonnay), from vineyards located in two different zones, in the plains and on the hills,” Francesco Iacono began. “Next, we will taste two sparkling wines before disgorging, and finally two sparkling wines that are ready to be sold. The process of making a sparkling wine usually takes three years: we are trying to recreate it in just half an hour, and in three tasting sessions.”
His goal was to communicate to us the sensory differences between the two environments — the plains and the hills — because in Franciacorta the variability between vineyard locations is larger than the difference between the vintages themselves.
The tasting began with the two base wines. Francesco Iacono explained that one of them came from vineyards located on moist and fertile flat soil, while the other one came from the hills where the earth is full of stones. Tasting the wines, I found that the first glass was more aromatic, and the second one more acidic in the mouth, so I thought that the wine from the hills was the first one. “Wrong! Francesco smiled. “That’s the second glass; the wine in the first is from flat land.
“But let’s go on. Now we are tasting wines number three and four: both wines are before disgorging. What are your impressions?” We all concentrated on the wines in our glasses, trying to figure out what the finished products would be like.
“And now, the two last glasses, numbers five and six. These sparkling wines are ready to be sold. Guess which one is the dosage zero?” Well, this was a difficult question. Both the wines in fact were quite similar, both very enjoyable…We could not decide and continued discussing this while Francesco Iacono was smiling, satisfied. He told us: “Glass number five is a brut, and number six a dosage zero. They are both enjoyable, right? It’s difficult to distinguish them, because even this sparkling wine with no sugar added is balanced and very pleasant.” Francesco continued, “The secret of this wine’s appeal is the climate of Franciacorta, which is much milder than Champagne’s Here the grapes (chardonnay, pinot blanc and pinot noir) ripen better. Thus, our sparkling wines are always smoother and enjoyable even with no liquer d’expedition added.”
Of course, the terroir is important, too: “When I was a researcher, I took part in the creation of a study in Franciacorta to classify the land in this region,” Francesco related. “We found that in this small appellation (just over 2000 hectares), there are six different identifiable landscape types — lets call them ‘environments.’ For this reason, we in Villa Crespia decided to designate the hilly vineyards of glacial origin with deep soils to make our “Numero Zero” sparkling wine (Chardonnay 100%). For “Cisiolo,” the dosage zero made with 100% pinot noir, we use vineyards on the plains, with clay soils. Finally, our Brut Chardonnay “Novalia” is made with grapes from the fluvial-glacial plains.”
I wondered: if the dosage zero sparkling wine is so good, why, then, the most of consumers are so wary of this category? “Because, I guess, they really don’t know them,” Francesco replied. “They are misled by the words, and they fear that the so-called sugar-free sparkling wines would be too dry and too aggressive.” However, tastes are changing, he added. “At the beginning of the 2000s, it was rare to find sparkling wines brut nature or dosage zero, but now they are becoming more common. Here in Villa Crespia, we have the dosage zero in our DNA: at least half of our production (more than 150,000 bottles) are dosage zero.”
The winemaker concluded: “When you work with precision in the vineyard, understanding the soil and the whole environment, then making a classic method sparkling wine is less technical than it may seem. And nowadays, choosing to produce sparkling wines of the category pas dose can become the trademark of our appellation.” Thank you, France, for your inspiring model. Though Franciacorta is different, its own “classic method” may be equally valuable.
Looking for a yummy dish to pair with Franciacorta? The Barefoot Contessa’s Tuna Tartare would be a perfect companion!
Cut the tuna into 1/4-inch dice and place it in a very large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the olive oil, lime zest, lime juice, wasabi, soy sauce, hot red pepper sauce, salt, and pepper. Pour over the tuna, add the scallions and jalapeno, and mix well. Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed, and peel. Cut the avocados into 1/4-inch dice. Carefully mix the avocado into the tuna mixture. Add the toasted sesame seeds, if using, and season to taste. Allow the mixture to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour for the flavors to blend. Serve on crackers.
See the full recipe here.
Majolini Winery, located in Ome–a unique place in the Northeastern border of Franciacorta–tells us about its special place in the world of Italy’s premium bubbles:
History and place
The Maiolini family has been associated with wine in Franciacorta since the fifteenth century: a native red grape variety called majolina (recently recognized as an indigenous variety) still today bears witness to this historical past. Cantina Majolini has celebrated in 2011 the thirtieth anniversary of its foundation, thanks to the passion that Valentino Maiolini had towards his territory, the winery was refounded in 1981, when the four sons of Valentino Maiolini set up the existing farm and restored the ancient vineyards of the hills of Ome and the surrounding municipalities.
The winery was built on the high hilly area of Valle in Ome, in a very panoramic location. It was modeled on the architecture of old farm-houses of the area and built with local stone – known as medolo– so as to fit harmoniously into a landscape of great beauty. This pure white limestone of which this north-eastern area of Franciacorta is made up, gives minerality and structure to the Franciacorta wines produced here.
So it is in this soil, climate and harmony with nature that the Majoliniʼs create their wines, the fruit of skillful care within a production cycle that has continued in line with their great love for the land and its traditions.
We care of the correspondence between wine and territory and, consequently, of the social responsibility of our production process. So Majolini Winery was the first to join the rigorous Italian Wine Carbon Calculator (Ita.Ca®), a project for monitoring the environmental impact promoted by the agronomic study SATA and shared with the Winemakers Federation of Australia.
Carbon dioxide is a gas with a higher incidence on the greenhouse effect. Evaluations on the impact of Majolini Winery lying on energy consumption and emissions of 2009, have given very encouraging results: Majolini Winery is one of the first companies to be able to demonstrate, by a rigorous method, a capacity to absorb CO2 higher than the amount of gas emitted.
For those who want the numbers, the Ita.Ca®ʼs study showed that the annual emission of the winery is -106.495 kgCO2 (less than 106.495 kg), which means that integrated business cycle helps remove from the atmosphere more than 100.000kg CO2 for year.
Despite the fact that any human activity involves the emission of gases into the atmosphere (starting from simple tasks, such as preparing a cup of coffee, to more complex ones, such as the production of food and wine), the trend analysis of the impact of industrial process is not a pride of beautiful Italy, but something is changing: it is spreading in the common sensibility an ever deeper knowledge of the risks that the environmental system is running. Regarding us, the interest in the fate of the environment saves significantly in consumer spending, optimizing the efficiency at management level but also by stimulating the personal attention to the containment of wastes, and because it averts the danger of a collapse of the agricultural characteristic of our integration into rural territory, safeguarding the future of our bubbles.
We love the attention! We’ve had success at national and international wine competitions
The attention with which we have focused on quality and not on numbers has been rewarded by numerous acknowledgments in national and international competitions.
Every year the most prestigious Italian wine guides, such as Sparkle Bere Spumante (Cucina&Vini), Vini dʼItalia (Gambero Rosso), Bibenda awards Duemilavini (AIS), Vini Buoni dʼItalia (Touring Club) have rewarded our Franciacorta Satèn, Franciacorta Millesimato Electo, Franciacorta Rosé Altèra, Franciacorta Pas dosé Aligi Sassu, the Riserva Brut Valentino Majolini.
The year 2011 closed with a brilliant array of awards, including “Corona” (excellence) Vini Buoni dʼItalia 2012 (Touring Club) for the Franciacorta Majolini Pas dosé Aligi Sassu; “5 spheres” (excellence) Sparkle Bere Spumante 2012 (Cucina&Vini) for the Franciacorta Majolini Blanc de Blanc and for the Franciacorta Majolini Satèn, that also won the title of “Wine of the Emotion 2012”.
Franciacorta Majolini Satèn has been selected for the “Bronze Medal” by the international wine competition in Warsaw “Grand Prix 2011” of “Magazyn Wino”, the prestigious Polish wine magazine, and Franciacorta Majolini Brut Millesimato Electo has received the “Double gold medal”, the classification in the “Category Champion 105” and the title of “Best Wine Italia” at the worldwine competition “Terravino 2011 – Mediterranean International Wine&Spirit Challenge” of Jerusalem.
Cheers to Majolini!
Some glasses of bubbly are bone dry and some are sweet – do you have a favorite Franciacorta?
If the bottle says: Undosed : This means you will get a refreshingly dry wine (0 to 3g/l of sugar for the technical types). It is the driest of the Franciacorta wines and often has a nice touch of toasted bread flavor in addition to the fruit. This style pairs well with salty foods (even popcorn and potato chips – but also fried fish, rich risotttos, fried chickenExtra Brut: This wine is very dry and a great pairing for sushi! It has 0 to 6 g/l of sugar- which just means it will be a tiny bit richer than the No Dosage. This style goes really well with cooked seafood as well.
Brut : A Brut Franciacorta is dry but softer than Extra Brut (with 0 to 12g/l of sugar). This is the most versatile style going with almost any food you can think of — but especially nice with pastas in a white sauce, veal cutlet, baked fish, and ham pizza!
Extra Dry: This wine has more sugar (12 to 17g/l) and is therefore softer. It is also great with pasta dishes with a white, creamy sauce, but also pasta with clams and mussels.
Sec : This means dry and this wine has more sugar than Extra Dry (17 to 32 3g/l). Thanks to its sweet taste, it goes well with sponge cake, custards, fruit pies and crumbles, cakes and tarts. This is a true pastry wine! But if sweet isn’t your thing, a nice soft cheese like Taleggio will pair well with the wine too.
The fun is trying them all and picking your favorite. Do you have a favorite yet?
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