Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Since last June, when I met Giovanni Arcari, a winemaker for 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.


Do Bianchi said...

I like Contadi Castaldi a lot, the rosé in particular.

When Giovanni comes back next year in the spring, we'll get him to bring a bottle of Camossi with him. (I'm seeing him in a few weeks in Italy.)

New Hampshire Wineman said...

V-girl, though I'm not a fan of Champagne(I know, I know), I'd be glad to grab one of these, you've described this as something a bit different and you also have an unintended skill as an advertiser;-)
Good job of selling this sparkling, but do you have a price-tag? Did I miss it?

Vinogirl said...

2B: It was a rosé Franciacorta, a Berlucchi, that I enjoyed most in my class. I always prefer a higher percentage of Pinot nero in my bubbly.
Have a great holiday and give my regards to Giovanni.

NHW: It's not that different that it'd convert you to a bubbly drinker, but it is different.
I purchased it for $26.99 at BevMo.

New Hampshire Wineman said...

V-girl, I try not to quit trying wines I don't have a proclivity for, and the price seems reasonable; if I see it, I'll try it and let you know.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Vinogirl! :-)

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Try it, you might like it.

Giovanni: Hopefully, one day I will get to try Camossi.

Thud said...

We could always go and visit!

Vinogirl said...

Thud: Nah, have my heart set on Lucca.

Thud said...

You are allowed more than one visit to Italy so I believe.

Vinogirl said...

Thud: Then maybe one day, yes I'd like to. We could do Piedmont as well :)