Imagine the bubbles of Franciacorta are not spherical but square and you’ll have the true idea of Italy’s premier sparkling wine.
This is one of the most disciplined DOCG regions in the North of Italy, between Milan and Venice, and has a super-commitment to quality that is almost frightening if you expect Italy to be a fun babyshambles. This makes a difference.
But what is the difference from Champagne? The grapes are the same (although where there would be Pinot Meunier you will find Pinot Bianco) but the sparkling wines of Franciacorta have the same assertive acidity as in Champagne and more defined than most Prosecco, other than very best. Generally, Franciacorta spends longer on lees than Champagne and is softer and more generous in the mouthfeel.
A couple of weeks ago I had lunch at L’Anima with the incomparable Maurizio Zanella of Ca’ del Bosco. One of the leading winemakers in the region, this was an incredible introduction. Michael Broadbent reminisced on the first time he met Zanella, in the 1970s on the Champs Elysee, when “he had rather long hair, very sexy, with a Rolls Royce (not mine MB noted).” He went on to say, “I love Italian wines, funnily enough I drink a lot at home. A lot of Champagne can taste like apple juice.”
Franciacorta has a lot of character. Ca’ del Bosco most famous wine is the Cuvee Annamaria Clementi. Beautiful marzipan and honey characters with a mouthful of perfume.
The Dosage Zero 2006…. ok, I nearly fell off my chair in a faint even remembering it. Could there even be a cooler wine – Zero Dosage AND Franciacorta. This would outwit the biggest wine snob – unfortunately it would be very difficult to find and expensive next to the big Champagne houses. Is it worth it?
Tomorrow I will be in Brescia, the heart of Franciacorta, for the EWBC conference. More updates soon.
Sparkles to the power squared.
Image: Maurizio Galimberti