For your New Year’s consideration: 91 points, “2011 Franciacorta Satèn Brut is a lovely sparkling wine” (Monica Larner)

For all of our recent accolades, please see this thread.

best franciacorta saten highest rating

From Monica Larner’s reviews in the September 2015 issue of Wine Advocate:

2011 Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Saten Brut
91 points

The 2011 Franciacorta Satèn Brut is a lovely sparkling wine with crisp tones and a fresh, forward style. Crisp fruit tones of peach, citrus and melon pop with bright intensity from the bouquet. Those overtly fruity tones from Chardonnay grapes are followed by heavier aromas of toasted nut and baked bread, although these are contained at the back. In the mouth, this pretty Satèn sparkler presents a creamy style with medium density and thick, slow-moving perlage. This wine ages on the the lees for up to 40 months.

NV Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Brut Animante
90 points

Made with organically-farmed fruit, the non-vintage Franciacorta Brut Animante is a plush and textured sparkling wine that peels back slowly to reveal aromas of peach, honeydew melon, pear and Golden Delicious apple. Crisp acidity helps to create a mouthfeel that is light, tonic and graced with a great sense of energy and brightness. The wine presents mild textural richness that suggests immediate or near-term drinking window. The blend is 78% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Nero and 4% Pinot Bianco.

Congratulations to incoming Franciacorta president Vittorio Moretti!

And congratulations also to Barone Pizzini’s CEO Silvano Brescianini who will serve as the consortium’s vice president…

The following press release was issued by the Franciacorta Consortium today.

Consorzio Franciacorta’s General Assembly appoints new President and Board


April 7th 2013, Franciacorta (Italy), Bellavista: Vittorio e Francesca Moretti

Vittorio Moretti (above) is the new President of Consorzio Franciacorta. The owner of Bellavista and Contadi Castaldi takes over from Maurizio Zanella of Ca’ del Bosco, who has led the Consorzio for the past seven years.

The Management Board was also changed and Silvano Brescianini, Barone Pizzini, has been appointed Vice President of Consorzio. The Directors are representative of the different types of players operating in Franciacorta, demonstrating once again cohesion and a willingness to engage all the members.

Maurizio Zanella greeted the members in attendance of the General Assembly: “I’m just talking about the past almost seven years here, that is my term of office, but I’d like to go back in time to twenty-five years ago, when the Consorzio was created. Back then, Franciacorta was largely unknown. It was the Cinderella of Metodo Classico, with approximately two million bottles sold. Thanks to our commitment, today, all that has changed, and Franciacorta is by far the leading Italian sparkling wine. I said “our commitment”, but it would be better to say “your commitment”, as I had the honor of chairing the Consortium, but above all of being welcomed in and made to feel part of this extraordinary land and community, a community that accepted me as member and prompted me to share with all of you the commitment and passion which I have spent in favor of our Wine and our Land,” Zanella went on to say. “We have come to the end of 2015 and of my two terms of office at the head of Consorzio Franciacorta, extended because of Expo 2015, the latest challenge we’ve faced together. So I wish to warmly thank you all for the honor and trust you have placed in me, while remembering that this has meant that I was duty-bound to do my very best.”

Maurizio Zanella leaves behind his legacy, an organization he brought to new heights, with major progress in product quality and in the success of the Franciacorta brand, which now stands for quality wine, representative of its land of origin.

The work done so far to promote the Franciacorta brand is confirmed by the financial resources it absorbed; in 2015, approximately 86% of our revenues went into brand promotion. Nowadays, Franciacorta wine has received recognition in Italy and abroad, first and foremost by the market. “Our efforts have been rewarded”, says Maurizio Zanella. While, in 2009, 9 million State seals were distributed by the Consortium – not necessarily translating into equivalent sales – by the end of 2015, 16 million bottles will have been sold. “The figures speak plainly, and we owe that to all your individual efforts,” Zanella stated.

In the past few years, the Consortium also developed as an institution: there are now more bottlers (100 in 2009, 113 in 2015) and growers (88 in 2009, 98 in 2015) among its members.

Seriousness and authoritativeness are the hallmarks of the work carried out by the Consorzio. And they will continue to be as we address the Italian and foreign markets with ever-enhanced competences.

While exports are not a large share of our current sales, they are posting double-digit growth. In the last four years, they have increased by 44.7% in value: our key markets in Europe are Switzerland, Belgium, Germany and the UK. Non-EU leaders are the US and Japan.

Maurizio Zanella said in conclusion: “Although my term as a President of this Consorzio ends today, for the wines and region of Franciacorta – I am sure – the journey has just begun. Thanks also to the contributions of our younger members, we will be propelled forward, and achieve new, significant results that will be surprising even to us.”

“My term of office will mark a continuity with what Maurizio Zanella has achieved in the last seven years”, said the new President, Vittorio Moretti. “With him, and with all the Directors whom I take an opportunity to personally thank, we set out on a journey that strengthened and added more appeal to our part of the country. I will continue in his footsteps: on one hand, we’ll increasingly develop vinicultural and oenological knowledge, with a special focus on the environment and the landscape, while on the other we’ll communicate globally the intangible values [i.e. the lifestyle] associated with this great product, which has made “lifestyle based on excellence” its most powerful message.”

President Moretti continued: “There’s one short sentence that sums up my thoughts and perhaps my mission too: “Doing everything I can – because I am an entrepreneur, and entrepreneurs love challenges – so that all the world will say that we in Franciacorta are all on the same page.” “The core of my mandate today comes down to three values which have always characterized my entrepreneurial culture – and that of others like me – as well as my convictions about life and what makes it worthwhile, enjoyable and meaningful. Three very simple values: TRUTH, JUSTICE AND BEAUTY.”

Consorzio Franciacorta is the body that guarantees and controls compliance with the production requirements for Franciacorta, the first Italian wine produced exclusively through bottle fermentation to have obtained – in 1995 – the DOCG [Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin] label. The consorzio is active in several areas: from the promotion of the brand and the local area to adding value to the product through ongoing work on the production requirements and informing consumers, including the promotion of Franciacorta as the expression of a land, a wine and a production method. Founded on 5 March, 1990, its headquarters are in Erbusco, in the heart of Franciacorta. The Consortium’s President is Vittorio Moretti and its members include 113 wineries.

What makes Franciacorta so geographically unique in the panorama of Italian wines?

italy google maps

Above: a Google Earth shot, looking north toward Lake Iseo from the Barone Pizzini winery (the small red dot).

Franciacorta and its wines are entirely misunderstood in the U.S. It’s partly due to the way that the wines have been marketed here. But it’s also due to the fact that Franciacorta is still very young as an appellation and the fact that the winemakers themselves are still in the process of conveying to the world what sets these sparkling wines apart from the crowded category of effervescence.

Every time I travel there, I understand more about the wines, the places where they are grown and vinified, and the people who make them.

On my recent visit to Franciacorta, I took some time to walk around the Barone Pizzini property and take some photographs.

lake iseo franciacorta

Above: I took this photo, looking north toward Lake Iseo from the Barone Pizzini winery, on Friday of last week.

If you look carefully at the Google Earth image and the Google map below, you can see how Lake Iseo forms a small valley through the foothills of the Alps.

That valley acts as the perfect conduit for cool Alpine air currents that arrive from the north.

On the one hand, those foothills offer ample growing sites with southern exposure.

On the other hand, the cool Alpine air and the cool breeze from Lake Iseo, help to keep the vines and their fruit cool in the late summer months of ripening.

franciacorta map

Above: a simple topographic Google map of Lake Iseo. You can see where the winery lies at the bottom of the image. That’s where I took my photo from.

There are a number of important appellations that, like Franciacorta, lie at the foot of the Alps: Langa to the west, Valpolicella and Soave, Prosecco, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Collio, and Carso to the east.

But none have the same convergence of climatic and topographic elements that Franciacorta has.

Fine wine grapes have been grown in Franciacorta and Brescia province (where it lies) for more than seven hundred years. By the height of the Italian Renaissance, Brescia province was already widely considered one of the most important viticultural areas in Italy.

But when a handful of winemakers began making sparkling classic-method wines there in the 1960s, something entirely unique in the panorama of Italian wines began to emerge there.

I’ll be sharing my notes and thoughts from my recent visit there over the next few weeks.

Thanks for reading.

—Jeremy Parzen

Barone Pizzini creator of the Ferrari horse & friend to the “ace of aces”

ferrari horse yellow

He was called the “ace of aces” and was one of the most famous aviators of World War I: Francesco Baracca (1888-1918), “the Prancing Horse,” author of 34 aerial victories during “the great war,” and one of the most celebrated wartime figures of the era.

(Click here for his English Wiki entry and click here for a detailed technical account of his missions.)

As a young cavalry officer in training at the Scuola di Cavalleria (Cavalry School) in Pinerolo township (Piedmont), he befriended Baron Edoardo Pizzini Piomarta Delle Porte (1882-1966), founder of the Barone Pizzini winery.

(Click here for a description of the school by British contemporary of the Baron and Baracca.)

Some time after Baracca became fascinated with aviation and abandoned horsemanship to become one of the most decorated “fly aces” of early aerial combat, he wrote to his friend Edoardo, inquiring about a favorite horse at the school.

In response, the young Baron sent him a sketch of the “prancing horse”: the cavallino rampante or horse rampant, a symbol of courage and ferocity borrowed from European heraldry, a rich tradition with which the Baron was surely intimately familiar.

“Your horse is fine,” wrote the Baron in the note that accompanied the sketch, “but whenever someone tries to mount him, this is what he does.”

Baracca was so attached to the horse that he decided to have the drawing reproduced on the side of his aircraft (a Nieuport 11, nicknamed Bébé in aviator parlance).

And thus was born the legend of the prancing horse, one of the most enduring icons of the era between the two world wars. It’s important to keep in mind that the flying aces were towering celebrities at the time and Baracca was a beloved war hero who played a starring role in Italy’s victory over Austro-Hungarian forces.

In 1923, just five years after Baracca had died in combat (taking his own life after being shot down by ground fire while providing cover for an inexperienced pilot), a fateful encounter would occur: young Enzo Ferrari (1898-1988), founder of the storied line of Italian automobiles, met Baracca’s mother, the Countess Paolina de Biancoli at the Gran Prix in Savio (Ravenna province), where Ferrari was the first driver to cross the finish line in his Alfa Romeo.

The Countess suggested that Ferrari use the cavallino rampante as his mascot. “It will bring you luck,” she told him.

Today, the cavallino rampante is one of the most enduring and recognizable icons in the world. In 1945, Ferrari had the cavallino redrawn by Milanese engraver Eligio Gerosa (1889-1978). Note how the tale turns upward in the Ferrari logo (below) while it’s turned downward in Baracca’s reproduction of the original sketch.