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 hell.

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Our Mission: The Black Winer strives to expose African Americans [and others] to wines, without the flair, stuffiness, and airs of elitism and snobbery that you get from sommeliers and high level wine enthusiasts. We believe in finding something that you like the taste of, outside of the basic brands that you have been force-fed over the years through a combination of ethnically targeted advertising, and what people in your family have historically been drinking.

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