Franciacorta: Rediscovering a new love
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Last year, I was introduced to Franciacorta, a lovely
sparkling wine from Italy, while having dinner at
Valentino’s Off the Square. As I had just met the
proprietor, Cosimo Tricarico, just two days before at a
wine tasting. He was amazed and refreshed that one of my
favorite wines is Amarone, the Italian “wine of kings.”
Anyway, as I told him that I would be trying his
restaurant, and he told me to call him when I came in, he
and his girlfriend and Ottavio Ruggerio wound up joining me
and opening a bottle of this vino.
Franciacorta is a lovely sparkling wine made in either
the Charmat method or the Method Champagnoise. It uses
Chardonnay, Pinot Nero/Noir and Pino Bianco/Blanco grapes
to make it, being much like the types of grapes restricted
to making champagne. Like champagne being from the same
named region in France, this wine comes from the
Franciacorta territory of the Lombardy region of Italy.
While the name also covers some non-sparkling (‘still’) red
and whites wines, the sparkling came about in 1961 when
Franco Ziliani was allowed to produce a sparkling wine in a
release of only 3,000 bottles. Well, it caught on like
wildfire, to say the least.
After a while, the country’s governing wine body decided
that the method used must be the traditional method, which
can only be called method champagnoise in France.
Additionally, the makers themselves started eliminating the
use of Pinot Grigio in the production.
Just like in champagne production, there are rosé and
cuvee versions available, and they taste delightful. I
have had the chance to drink these wines on four occasions,
and I would say that I will be happy as it makes more
inroads into America. For far too long we, the average
American wine consumber, have been rapt and confounded with
the concept of Champagne being the top thing in wine, as
well as assuming that other sparkling wines are also
champagne as well. While many of them can give the
original a run for it’s money, this one is sure to give it
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