In case you don’t know Italian wine writer Franco Ziliani, he’s one of Italy’s leading wine critics, its top wine blogger, and is widely considered the leading authority on the wines of Franciacorta today. He is the author of Vino al Vino, one of Italy’s most popular wine blogs; Le Mille Bolle Blog, a site devoted to Italian sparkling wines; and he also authors a column for the website of the historic food and wine guide Cucchiaio d’Argento.
Our translation of his February 4, 2013 post for the Mille Bolle Blog follows.
I won’t add much here but will invite you instead to read a post that I devoted last September to Barone Pizzini in Provaglio d’Iseo and its wines.
Well known today as the first organic winery in Franciacorta, the estate began experimenting with organic farming in 1998. In 2001, its vineyards — 47 hectares including 25 separate parcels scattered over the townships of Provagliao d’Iseo, Corte Franca, Adro e Passirano — were granted organic certification. Its vineyards are scattered over some of the best growing areas in Franciacorta thanks to their exposure and the subsoils.
The winery’s handsome cellar, which I visited recently, reminds the visitor of Italy’s historic rational architecture style. Wines were first produced there in 2006 and 2007 and in 2010, the winery’s offices and salesroom were also opened onsite. The estate produces a range of Franciacorta and its wines are solidly reliable and impeccably well made. But most importantly, they’re very pleasing to the palate.
I liked the non-vintage Brut, made primarily from the estates 2010 vintage (80%). It was an earnest wine, round on the palate, enjoyable, approachable but not banal, and better than the entry-tier Brut from many well known houses.
The 2009 Satèn, only recently disgorged (October 2012) and soon to be released, showed beautiful intensity in its color, a vibrant straw yellow. It was round in the mouth, with creamy flavors and a nice salty finish.
I liked Brut Rosé 2008 so much that I’ve decided to write about it on another site where I celebrate the unique qualities and greatness of rosés. Its cuvée includes 80% of brilliant Pinot Noir. I also liked the Bagnadore 2005 and I promise to review it here shortly.
Today, I’d like to direct your attention to another Franciacorta that’s part of line produced by the winery, whose general manager, Silvano Brescianini, I’ve known for at least twenty years. I met him back when he was a talented chef at XXVII Miglio di Erbusco (and then later at San Domenico in Imola and San Domenico in New York). Who would have thought that he’d have such an outstanding career (having served as winery manager and vice president of the Franciacorta consortium)? My goodness, Silvano, you’re such a big shot! (I better keep this red-headed A.C. Milan fan on my good side!)
The non-vintage wine is made from grapes from the 2008 harvest, 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Nero, fruit sourced from the vineyards Ciosèt, Troso, and Prada, with a yield of 90 quintals per hectare, aged on its lees for 24 months. It’s the winery’s Extra Brut, which the estate recommends serving as an aperitif paired with Parmigiano Reggiano, crudo, consommé, culatello, and other encased charcuterie.
If it were up to me, I’d like to see what the wine could do when paired with a wider range of dishes, like the fantastic menu at a Franciacorta restaurant that I love, the Dispensa Pani & Vini in Torbiato di Adro, where you’ll find a maestro and genius in the kitchen whose name happens to be Vittorio Fusari (another old friend). Likewise, I wouldn’t mind pairing it with the cuisine of Stefano Cerveni, a world-class chef, at his wonderful Due Colombe al Borgo Antico in Borgonato di Cortefranca
There were no ifs, ands or buts about how much I like this Extra Brut (my favorite category above all others). It was brilliant gold in the glass, with fine and cohesive bubbles. An earnest nose, focused, very dry, with notes of salted almonds, citrus, white fruit, white flowers, and a nice touch of minerality that helped to give the wine a complex and elegant bouquet.
I liked the wine even more in the mouth. It was focused, masculine, assertive, full of life and energy, rich with flavor, expansive, nuanced, and insistent. The salty finish tasted of almonds as it lingered on the palate. Balanced and playful but not cute or flirty. It’s a Franciacorta that takes the field and shows you its unique personality. Maybe you like it and maybe you don’t (but how the hell could you not like this wine?). But all will agree that this unique entry stands apart from the rest.
A fine Franciacorta that I recommend you try without hesitation.