Camossi in Franciacorta, I have been dying to get my hands on some of these little known wines from the Lombardy region of Italy. Having a presentation on Franciacorta wines in my Wines of the World class further fueled my curiosity.
Fortunately, in a way, I have been out of Napa quite a lot of late and have been able to visit some proper wine stores, (with the demise of JV Wine & Spirits buying wine in Napa is no fun), where I was able to purchase this bottle of Contadi Castaldi NV Brut. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a bottle of Camossi, sigh. So what is this northern Italian wine region, Franciacorta, all about?
Franciacorta is a small, hilly wine appellation on the southern shore of Lake Iseo, northeast of Milan and close to the city of Brescia. The appellation gets it's name from the village of Corte Franca where, in the late middle ages, the local monasteries and abbeys enjoyed the luxury of not having to tithe to the ruling lords. Having produced still wines for centuries, it was not until the 1960s that the sparkling wine industry made its first appearance. Granted DOCG status in 1995, (since 2008, the still wines of Franciacorta are known as Corte Franca), Franciacorta wines are made in the true champagne-method. In fact, if truth be told, the sparkling wines of Franciacorta are made under the most demanding standards for sparkling wine anywhere in the world; longer bottle aging on the lees, smaller yields in the vineyards etc. The most popular style of wine is Brut (which allows up to 12g per litre of residual sugar), but Franciacorta's flagship style is called Satèn - a name conjured up by a marketing firm in Milan to convey the idea of silk and satin. Satèn is made primarily from Chardonnay with a soft and creamy mousse, the result of lower pressure in the bottle - what would be called a crémant in France. Currently, there are about 100 Franciacorta producers, 90% of whom would be considered small to medium in size, with most only producing 100,000 bottles per year.
Which brings me to the bottle of Contadi Castaldi I bought. I love their little symbol-logo, it reminds me of medieval runes, or such-like, which are repeated in a cartouche on the glass up towards the neck of the bottle. The wine itself was a light straw colour which spoke of youthfulness and purity - interestingly though, I couldn't find the sboccatura date on the back label. With a toasty fresh-fruit nose, a light and refreshing acidity, a whiff of lemon grass, apple skin and almonds, and a nice, clean finish, I was surprised at how large the bubbles were - portly, vigorous and authoritative - which, for me, instantly distinguished this wine from Champagne proper. I want to try more.