10/02/2013

A Trio of Sparkling Wines from Franciacorta: Montenisa, Ronco Calino, and Villa Franciacorta


Hello Friends,

I recently had a chance to jump online with the good folks at Balzac Communications and a number of ready wine enthusiasts for a virtual tasting. Several wines from Franciacorta were featured. Franciacorta is located in the northern Italian region of Lombardy and has a moderate climate tempered by the grand Lake Iseo. The region has produced still (not effervescent or sparkling) wines since the 16th century. However, for the last five decades, area vintners have worked together to collectively make a name for themselves as a sparkling wine region. As a result, Franciacorta became the first Italian wine region to exclusively produce sparkling wines --- all made in the traditional method like they've done for centuries in the Champagne region of France. Franciacorta is also the first sparkling wine to obtain Italy’s highest appellation award of DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita).

Franciacorta ... Blend of Passions


Having said that, I’m sure you have heard the phrase, “Champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.” While Franciacorta uses the same method as Champgane, the region takes advantage of its cooler temperatures and makes its own diverse, individualistic styles of bubbly. Grape varieties used in Franciacorta DOCG sparkling wines are Chardonnay, Pinot Nero (aka Pinot Noir), and up to 50% of Pinot Bianco. Below is a trio of Franciacorta sparkling wines accompanied by my tasting notes and a picture I snapped of each bottle. In closing, always keep in mind that sparkling wine is not just for special occasions, but for any occasion! And the bubbles from Franciacorta are good to keep in your sparkling rotation!

Montenisa NV Brut


1) Montenisa NV Brut (SRP $37): This is a sparkling wine made in the traditional method and composed of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and a small percentage of Pinot Nero (Noir). It has a persistent, fine bead with aromas of spiced pear and baked apple accented by apricot, spicy yeast, and soft toasted almond notes. The aromas extend to the palate with refreshing and cleansing acidity that frames the fruit nicely. This sparkling wine is completely enjoyable on its own and would pair wonderfully with a wide variety of foods. Overall, a delicious and well-balanced sparkler with good length and depth of complexity. (Other info: ABV 12.5%, first fermentation partly in stainless, partly in barriques, second in the bottles, contact on the yeasts for at least 30 months)  Click here to find this wine.

Ronco Calino NV Brut


2) Ronco Calino NV Brut (SRP $30): This selection is a blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir (from Burgundy clones). It shows upfront apple notes followed by yellow fruit and floral tones alongside melon, muted honey, and butter cream. On the palate, it has a slightly creamy mousse, elegant acidity, and is nicely structured with a crisp, vibrant finish. Overall, a versatile, food-friendly, and reasonably priced sparkling wine that is moderately complex and highly enjoyable. (Other info: Approximately 20% fermented in French oak barrels, ABV 13%, cork enclosure) Click here to find this wine.

Villa Franciacorta 2007 Millesimato Brut


3) Villa Franciacorta 2007 Millesimato Brut (SRP $35): This sparkling wine is alluring and nuanced with textural finesse, good length, mature fruit, and focused acidity. It offers elegance, fine bubbles, and considerable complexity at a fair price point considering what it delivers. I know bubbly is typically best served well-chilled, but this selection comes into its own around cellar temperature in my opinion. Don't wait for New Year's Eve, the special occasion is when you open this one! (Other info: Composed of Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Bianco, ABV 12.5%, cork enclosure) Click here to find this wine.

Check them out, folks!


Stay tuned! I have another round of bubbly from Franciacorta coming up in a future post!

Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at myvinespot@yahoo.com or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: These wines were provided for review. Thoughts are my own.

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