Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri 2017: Franciacorta, the other other other sparkling wine
I’ve always been a bubbly enthusiast – bar the brief phase as a neophyte, vehemently denouncing the region of Champagne out of myopic unfamiliarity (“why would you pay hundreds of dollars for sparkling bread water?!”) – but for some reason the ember has recently been amplified for at least a modicum of time. It struck me as a bit odd, since the grandes marques of the wine world are the opposite of the dark horses I like to champion, but I’ve popped open a bottle of Piper-Heidsieck’s non-vintaged brut (it was on sale, obviously), as I pound away at a daunting spreadsheet covering what I’ve deemed are the 70-or-so most important Champagne houses, everything down to oak regimes, house styles, or whether or not they were fucked over during an acquisition. Fascination and inspiration strike at odd times.
That being said, Franciacorta – Italy’s counterpart to France’s traditionally-made Champagne – is a few notches in popularity below Champagne, Spain’s Cava, and Italy’s own Prosecco. Generally, more my speed. I don’t remember my first Franciacorta, but I do remember the first time I had been introduced to one, having worked at a wine store that had a bottle clad in Veuve Clicquot-esque yellow-orange cellophane, displayed behind a cabinet. It was Ca’ del Bosco’s Cuvée Prestige, ignored and eclipsed by the nearby section of Gallic bubble.
Anyway, here are 10 bottles of Franciacorta tasted at Gambero Rosso’s 2017 Tre Bicchieri tasting. From February. I’m behind, aren’t I?
Ferghettina 2009 “Riserva 33” Franciacorta Pas Dosé (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017. Tre bicchieri.
Gentle oxidative pomaceous fruit on the nose, and unmistakably yeasty. Almost unforgivingly earthy on the palate yet very open-knit, savoury, and expressive.
Ferghettina 2o12 Franciacorta Brut Milledì (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017. Due bicchieri.
Yellow apples and yeast; almost off-dry on the palate with the powefully flavourful and open-knit palate. Very pleasurable and drinking well currently.
Ferghettina 2012 Franciacorta Rosé Milledì (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017. Due bicchieri.
Something a bit like roasted almonds. Playful palate, with flavourful savouriness – as the others in the family – but with a little more dried strawberry to the flavour.
Ca’ del Bosco “Cuvée Prestige” Franciacorta Brut (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017. Due bicchieri.
Where the Ferghettina evoked immediate hedonism, there’s a little more of a cerebral steeliness to Ca’ del Bosco’s wines, with the principal wine offering a citrus-driven mineral nose with brioche and baked apple. Structure is more evident, too.
Ca’ del Bosco “Cuvée Prestige” Franciacorta Rosé (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017.
First sniffs reveal yeast in the forefront, with a hint of herbs and cherries that become a lot more expressive and precise on the palate.
Ca’ del Bosco 2011 “Vintage Collection Dosage Zéro” Franciacorta (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017. Tre bicchieri.
Managed to greedily snag some of this, since it was being stashed under a table. Flaky buttery doughy goodness with baked apple. Delicate mousse and perplexingly tasty: perhaps hints to cedar? Meat? Long, haunting finish.
Contadi Castaldi 2012 “Zèro” Franciacorta (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017. Tre bicchieri.
Really stands out from the others: there’s an expected profile of yeast and red apples, but there’s something that reminds me of slightly oxidized lager on the palate – something a bit like nuts or wet hay. Still delicious!
Ricci Curbastro 2012 Franciacorta Extra Brut (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017. Tre bicchieri.
Relatively sappy nose, with honeyed lemon and a bit of vanilla. Evokes more bruised fruit on the palate and minerals. Quite broad on the palate.
Ricci Curbastro 2012 Franciacorta Satèn (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017.
The “satèn” designation restricts a Franciacorta to a lower pressure and the sole usage of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco. It certainly follows the seemingly relaxed trend of the wines in its family, with a hint of nuts, something like caramelized brown sugar, autumnal spice, and yellow apple.
Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Rosé (Franciacorta, Lombardy, Italy) Feb 2017.
Very pale pink. Petrichor-laced and elegant. Fine netting of mousse that slightly gets in the way of the candied green apple and yeast. Savoury.