It’s no secret that I adore Champagne and sparkling wines. The holiday season is approaching quickly which means there are many more reasons to open a bottle of bubbly to celebrate an occasion. One group of sparkling wines that are always on my radar is Franciacorta. I am always in the mood to try new Franciacorta and as luck would have it an opportunity presented itself on 11/16/15 when I received a box of Franciacorta from Balzac Communications and an invitation to participate in a Twitter tasting.
Twitter tastings are a great way to simultaneously taste the same wines with people all over the country. It’s interesting to see how one individual’s tasting notes compare to another person. Great discussion about the wine, producer and the region ensues. If a producer happens to be on Twitter they can also contribute little known tidbits of information about their winery and winemaking practices. Twitter tastings are thus informative and educational. This Franciacorta Twitter tasting featured 4 wines which were tasted from right to left.
Franciacorta Brut, Barone Pizini Animante
Opening the package of this wine made me feel like it was Christmas. I loved the stylish paper wrapping covering the bottle. The design of the gold crest on the bottle was very classy and hinted at the history behind the label.
Barone Pizzini was established in 1870 which makes it the most ancient winery in Franciacorta. One fun fact about the family history is that an early member was a Commander of the Calvary and he drew a symbol of a prancing horse which became the symbol for Ferrari. The Pizzini family also built the Franciacorta golf course. Today the winery owns 47 hectares which contain 25 vineyards with the average vine age being 15 years old. Pizzini pioneered organic farming since the 1990’s . They were the first winery in the region to become completely organic (since 1998). In 2007 a new biotechturally designed winery was opened. In 2011 Barone Pizzini joined the ita.ca project to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and measure its environmental impact. Barone Pizzini produces 7 Franciacorta and 3 other wines under the general manager Silvano Brescianini.
Barone Pizzini Animate is a blend of 78% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Nero, and 4% Pinot Blanc. It spent 2 years on the lees. The wine is a pale yellow color with a persistent stream of tiny bubbles. Aromas of white flowers, lemon zest, honeydew melon, pear were noted with a light sprinkling of biscuits. A crisp, light, medium bodied wine with balanced acidity and a creamy finish. It’s a very versatile wine style. It would be perfect as an aperitif but would also pair well with shellfish, cured meats, risotto and pasta. At SRP $35 it’s a great value.
Franciacorta Brut, Le Marchesine
Le Marchessine was established in 1988 and is owned by the Biatta family. These 5th generation winemaker’s mission is to produce elegant, easy to drink Franciacorta wines. Their philosophy is centered on technological innovation and they have very close ties to the Champagne region. Le Marchesine currently owns 47 hectares and produces 4 Franciacorta and 2 other wines.
Le Marchesine, Franciacorta Brut is a blend of 70%Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Nero, and 10% Pinot Bianco. It spent 25 months aging on the lees. It’s a straw color with a fine perlage. Aromas of white flowers, ginger, grapefruit, mango, and passionfruit were present. It’s fresh with a rich mouthfeel that balanced well with the toasty flavors.
Le Marchesine is a very pleasant wine that pairs well with sushi, shellfish, and seafood dishes. It’s fine, persistent perlage had me humming the song Tiny Bubbles by Don Ho. The exotic tropical flavors in the wine and the Tiny Bubbles song made me think I was being transported to Hawaii. I was taking a vacation for the SRP $27. No wonder this wine “makes me happy and makes me feel fine”.
Franciacorta Rose, Contadi Castaldi
Contadi Castaldi’s name comes from 2 words: contadi refers to the plots of divided land, and castaldi refers to the officers who managed the land for the prince back in the old days. This winery was established in 1987 in an industrial building. A fun fact about the winery is that the old furnace from the building was made into the company seat. Contadi Castaldi is the only winery in the region to have vineyards in all 19 communes permitted to grow grapes for the production of Franciacorta. They own 130 acres which have 92 vineyards in them. This company is big on research and it’s motto is the “art of innovation”. Contadi Castaldi produces 5 Franciacorta and 3 other wines.
The Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Rose is a lovely salmon color from which a delicate bubbles stream. It’s a blend of 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Nero. On the first sip I was very surprised at how much the wild strawberry flavor dominated the wine. Ripe Golden Delicious apples, and brioche flavors were present in this medium bodied, sensual wine. The flavors gave way to a long creamy finish.
Contadi Castaldi made me feel like I was 17 again. It was so fresh, like a first kiss of summer. The song Strawberry Wine by Deanna Carter ran through my head. This Franciacortia rose would pair well with a variety of seafood, salads, turkey, poultry and pretty much any summer related food. It’s a keeper for SRP $25.
Franciacorta Rose Vintage, Villa Franciacorta Boke 2010
Villa Franciacorta is a very historical winery whose cellars date back to the 16th century. The name comes from a hamlet which included a mansion. The mansion was abandoned until it was purchased in 1960 by Alessandro Bianchi and thus the beginning of the modern age of Villa Franciacorta began. The vineyards are very unique as they are at the edge of a moraine, dug into rock. Villa Franciacorta owns 37 hectares which includes a property with 21 rooms. The company produces 7 Franciacorta and 5 other wines.
The Villa Franciacorta Boke 2010 is comprised of 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Nero. The wine spent 36 months aging on the lees. Aromas of citrus, cherry, black current are present. I love the minerality in this wine. It’s very fresh, elegant, and balanced with a long finish. It’s scrumptious!
The packaging on this wine is very classy and beautiful. It would make a perfect gift …..no need to wrap it up as it’s already done for you. The bottle captures your attention! If you are looking to impress someone then this bottle is for you. Future Romeos would be well advised to open a bottle of this wine because for SRP $25 you could not only capture her heart, but steal it! Can you believe you can get a great vintage Franciacorta for this price? Outstanding value for a great quality wine!
All of these Franciacorta are great quality wines at an affordable price point. With the holidays coming they would make an excellent choice to bring to any occasion, and would make excellent gifts. Serve these Franciacorta at Thanksgiving or Christmas, and don’t forget to pop a cork on New Year’s Eve. Cheers!