Five Fab Sparklers, One Location.

Five Fab Sparklers, One Location.

 


The rush for sparkling wine is here, and there’s still enough time for you to grab one of my all-time faves. Franciacorta is Italy’s answer to Champagne, some might say. While I believe the comparison successfully establishes Franciacorta as a premium quality wine, I fear it gives the former short shrift. These bottles stand strong on their own.

There are around fifty growers and producers in Franciacorta today producing about 12 million bottles from roughly 5,400 acres of vineyard land – that’s a relatively small area compared to say, Champagne (which produces approximately 350 million bottles each year). Franciacorta is producing small batch sparklers created under strict guidelines. The DOCG label was established in 1995. Requirements include: minimum refinement of 18 months in the bottle and a total of 25 months of aging before release; vintage dated wines (millesimato) must spend 30 months in the bottle and cannot be sold until 37 months from the vintage. Just three varietals are permitted: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Bianco. Every bottle of Franciacorta DOCG is a high-touch labor or love. 
 
There are a few key Franciacorta producers who see a lot of play in the United States. I’d like to see us widen the playing field a bit and get some new picks on the shelves. Here are five that your local retailer may have hiding in their private stash. If they don’t have it, request a special order. And if you don’t make it in time for New Year’s Eve, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.
 
Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Saten Brut NV

This is a 100 percent Chardonnay wine, as most Satèn tend to be. Franciacorta’s Satèn sparkler are also defined by the level of pressure in the bottle – in this case, it’s lower. Satèn wines promise richer, fuller,  and creamier bubbles. This one delivers. Plush floral aromas of wildflower, baked pear and apple with mild yeast. Zesty and brightly fruited with searing acidity, tart and lemon driven fruit notes, touches of melon and cream, fresh orange and lime pith with a toasted finish that’s light and crisp.
 
Mirabella Brut Rosé Franciacorta NV
 
Chardonnay (45%), Pinot Nero (45%) and Pinot Bianco (10%). Plush strawberry and cherry aromas are lightly floral and touched by flaky puff pastry and delicate floral honey. Fresh spice and a creamy texture on the palate with gorgeous fruit flavors of cherry, strawberry and tart cranberry towards the finish, this displays great depth and full body with length and style. 93 pts.
 
Majolini Brut Franciacorta 2014
 
Chardonnay (90%) with a dash of Pinot Noir (10%). Tart Meyer lemon and light toast, pastry dough and grapefruit on the nose. Creamy palate of fresh lemon cream and grapefruit zest, a bit of green apple, pear skins and warm spice, finishing with melon and butter notes. 
 
Villa Emozione Brut Franciacorta 2013
 
This is a blend of 26 base wines from a single estate – Chardonnay (85%), Pinot Noir (10%), and Pinot Blanc (5%). Dark toast and biscuit aromas with an oaty, buttered note with crisp fruit notes of lemon and grapefruit. Lively and tart on the palate with searing acidity, fresh citrus flavors of grapefruit and tangerine, melon rind and more smoky toasted notes of wheat and barley, finishing with more tart acidity and puckering citrus pith.
 
Monzio Compagnoni Brut Franciacorta 2010
 
The 2010 growing year was cold and rainy, but harvest conditions reached perfection It’s still showing, eight years later. Smoky citrus aromas, ever so slightly honeyed on the nose with a pleasant floral note and some green apple, peach and lemon underneath the toast. Smooth and creamy palate with pleasant citrus fruit notes of orange and grapefruit, tart acidity and dark toast, finishing bready with biscuit notes and fresh peach fruit.
 

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