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

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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.

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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.

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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
blogmaster

Barone Pizzini’s “soul”: Animante, a new Franciacorta debuts at Vinitaly 2014

We are very proud to present Animante, Barone Pizzini’s “soul” and its new wine, which debuted at Vinitaly 2014.

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This wine is the crowning achievement of a long process of pioneering renewal in Barone Pizzini’s vineyards and winery, a project that led the estate to become the first organic grower and winemaker in Franciacorta.

It represents Barone Pizzini’s “soul” — anima, in Italian — and it embodies the winery’s guiding principle of respect for the land, the environment, and the wine lover.

Animante is made from grapes grown in twenty-five vineyards that can be divided into three big “families,” each with its own unique soil types and geological origins. All three deliver a different nuance in the genetic makeup of the wine.

Complexity is imparted by the vineyards lying at the highest elevations as well as those that sit atop the Alpine foothills. Balance comes from extended aging of the blending wines made from grapes grown in the heart of Franciacorta. The fine soils of low-lying vineyards give the wine its elegance.

Every vine produces unique fruit, the expression of its own microcosm. In the cellar, every parcel receives careful attention guided by its unique personality. Pressing, lees aging, and clarification are never identical.

Instead, they are varied in accordance with the nature of the grapes and the character of their aromas and flavors.

Every parcel is vinified separately and assessed one by one with each harvest.

After the personality of each parcel has been established, the wines are carefully blended to give life to the cuvée — a composition of balanced colors, a flow of thought-provoking notes, the product of a priceless artisanal tradition.

Bottling the 2013 vintage at Pievalta

A note from Pievalta manager Silvia Loschi…

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Last week, we bottled the first expressions of the 2013 vintage: Pievalta and Dominé.

Pievalta, the illustrious expression of the left bank of the Esino river, is made from a single 43-year-old vineyard. After the clusters are pressed whole, the wine is vinified in stainless steel.

Dominè is born from the union of the grapes of vineyards in Maiolati Spontini and San Paolo di Jesi.

This year, for the first time, it’s been vinified in stainless steel and large traditional casks (botti).

We are looking forward to Summa and Vinitaly to taste them with you!

@VinoRoma tasting note for Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Rosé

hande leimer vino romaHande Leimer — left, otherwise known as “Vino Roma” — has been called Rome’s “leading wine educator” by U.S.A. Today and her guided tastings, seminars, and wine and food tours of the Eternal City are among the most popular in a crowded class of enogastronomic “sherpas” working there today.

(Click here for her site, including info on her classes and tours.)

So you can imagine our excitement when we saw her post and tasting note on the Barone Pizzini 2008 Franciacorta Rosé on her Facebook yesterday.

Here’s what she had to say about the wine:

Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Rose Brut 08 with its acidity & sparkle is the perfect counterpart to the incredible amount of fat.

The wine, we learn perusing her Facebook, was paired with “potatoes, morcilla [blood sausage], torta di casar, Turkish red pepper from the oven.”

Sounds delicious, Hande! Thank you so much!

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Images via Vino Roma’s Facebook.

Barone Pizzini awarded GOLD by the Dallas Morning News-TexSom Wine Competition

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Above: TexSom, a partner in the Dallas Morning News International Wine Competition has become one of the most important wine events in the wine industry annual calendar (photo by Courtney Perry). Click here to read our blogmaster’s write-up of last year’s event.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to announced that Barone Pizzini was awarded two gold and one silver medal at the prestigious Dallas Morning News-TexSom International Wine Competition, one of the most respected wine competitions in the world today.

Here are our results:

Barone Pizzini, Franciacorta DOCG, Saten, Brut 2009 GOLD

Barone Pizzini, Franciacorta DOCG, Animante, Brut NV GOLD

Barone Pizzini, Franciacorta DOCG, Pas Dosé, Riserva, Bagnadore, Decimo Terzo 2006 SILVER

Click here to read more about the meticulous judging process and the remarkable gathering of U.S. and international wine professionals who evaluate the entries.

We couldn’t be more pleased and thrilled by the results.