Thursday, July 16, 2015

San Franciacorta.

Yesterday, I chose to venture out of Napa. Jeremy Parzen (aka Do Bianchi) was hosting a Franciacorta tasting in San Francisco and I decided that I wanted to attend.  So I trekked across the bay, and quite a trek it was, (note to self: public transport is only as good as the parking availability at the terminals/stations), to participate in what turned out to be a fun and very informative tasting.
Alongside importers, distributors, professional winewriters and Franciacorta enthusiasts, I tasted through 16 wines (or "16 skus" in wine-promotion parlance) from about 10 different Franciacorta producers.  All four categories of Franciacorta were represented; Brut, Satèn, Millesimato and Rosé.  Made by the metodo classico, but with only 4.5 atmospheres of pressure instead of the traditional 6 atmospheres, all of the wines had less fizz than one would normally associate with a bottle of bubbly, (more reminiscent of a Crémant), which meant the wines showed a little more softness and elegance on the palate.  There were several standouts in the Franciacorta line-up for me. Here is a selection of my WhiffsNotes;
Best nose:  Barone Pizzini Satèn, NV - Wow! Baked apples and toast. Soft fizz.  Easy to swallow.
Best mouthfeel:  Il Mosnel EBB Extra Brut, 2009 - At once clean and complex.
Best finish:  Montensia Brut, NV - Nice.  Opened up beautifully.  Long, long finish.
Overall drinkability:  A tie between - Il Mosnel Satèn, 2010 - Super soft, ozoney-alpiness. What a mouthfeel!  And, Berlucchi Brut '61, NV - Dry, clean, toast, nice finish.
Special mention:  Camossi Brut, NV - Fruity, soft with unexpected Turkish Delight/rose petal vibe.
It is not without a soupçon of irony that I acknowledge that some of the most appealing wines to me at the Franciacorta tasting were 100% Chardonnay.  Yes, Chardonnay. Surprising, considering I usually avoid Blanc de Blancs wines, both French and Californian, like the plague.  But never say never.
Thanks for the invite 2B!


New Hampshire Wineman said...

VG: One of the best wine reviews ever (Blog awards drink your hearts out).

GenuineFranciacorta said...

If you don't come in Franciacorta, the Franciacorta comes to you :-)

Thomas said...

Nice review, VG. Your mention of the Chardonnay conundrum (pun?) points emphatically to why it is best to approach each wine as an individual.

Having said that, as a wine grape variety, I generally find chardonnay among the boring ones (except for old-style Chablis), which is probably why the grape requires all manner of trickery from oak to ML to Franciacorta fizz.

New Hampshire Wineman said...

Thomas: I couldn't agree with you more! Excellent comments; I wish I had said them!
I just might quote you though!

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Thank you. Getting to participate in such fun tastings is reward enough for me. (I'm interested in wine, not celebrity!)

NB: But you didn't come to San Francisco, but maybe, one day :)

Tomasso: Thanks T. As I was contemplating that conundrum, 2B did say that he thinks Franciacorta CH is a true expression of that grape. Being partial to the odd, "old-style Chablis" myself I am now cogitating a Chablis/Franciacorta Satèn tasting for my own gratification. Approaching each wine as an individual, of course.

Do Bianchi said...

Vinogirl, thank you so much for being there (which meant the world to me) and for this fantabulous post. I do believe that Franciacorta is one of the places in the world (like Chablis) where Chardonnay's "neutral" character really work's to the appellation's advantage.

Super cool post! Thank you!

Thud said...

good stuff sis.

Vinogirl said...

2B: "Neutral" is a good way to describe the Chardonnay grape: though it is that very same neutrality that allows winemakers in California to exploit this poor grape. Franciacorta winemakers seem to take a less abusive approach to winemaking :)
A very informative tasting.

Thud: We'll have to have a 'Franciacorta Evening' next summer.