Category Archives: Franciacorta Brut

Franciacorta: The Real Story

Jeremy Parzen is an old friend.   I have a great respect for his wine knowledge and I enjoy reading his erudite blog http://dobianchi.com/.Jeremy is now the official spokesperson for Franciacorta sparkling wine and wants everyone to know the real story.

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Jeremy Parzen

Jeremy explained that Franciacorta is a small wine-producing area in Northern Italy noted for its sparkling wines. The Franciacorta wine region is located in the hills immediately southeast of the foot of Lake Iseo in the province of Brescia in the Lombardy region. Roughly square in shape, it stretches eastwards for 15 miles (25km) from the Oglio River (which flows out from the lake) until reaching the Mella River valley and the western suburbs of the city of Brescia.

Franciacorta is reserved for wines obtained exclusively with re-fermentation in bottle and the separation of sediment by way of disgorgement. They must be produced in accordance with the appellation’s production regulations.

The four categories of Franciacorta DOCG are:

Franciacorta – must be made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as a maximum of 50% Pinot Blanc. The base wine for the production of Franciacorta may be obtained from a blend of different vintages. Minimum of 18 months on the lees.

Franciacorta Saten – Pinot Noir is not allowed in the Satén No more than 20 grams/liter of sugar may be added to the wine in causing the second fermentation/final dosage.

Minimum of 24 months on the lees. Saten Rose is a minimum of 30 days and Saten riserva is a minimum of 60 days.

Jeremy said that Satèn in Franciacorta has less pressure than most sparkling wine with 4.5 atmospheres of pressure instead of the traditional 6. This gives the wine more elegant bubbles, a more delicate mousse and a softer mouth feel.

He did not compare Franciatora to Champagne but showed how they were different. The climate and soil where the grapes are grown are different, as are some of the grapes that are used. He added that in Champagne more sugar is added to the wine. In Franciacorta most of the production is organic. In fact he said in the near future every producer in the consortium would be organic. Champagne has a long history while Franciacorta has been in production for around 50 years.

Franciacorta Rosè – minimum of 25% Pinot Noir and minimum of 24 days on lees. Millesimato minimum of 30 days on lees. Riserva minimum of 60 days on lees.

Franciacorta millesimato (vintage dated) must be produced using at least 85% of wine from the stated vintage.

Franciacorta riserva — minimum of 60 days on the lees.

Franciacorta must be disgorged manually or mechanically and filtration is not allowed.

Jeremy said there are 109 members of the Franciacorta consortium and they account for 94% of the total production.

Franciacorta is the largest selling sparkling wine in Italy made by the Methodo Classico.

There were 8 wineries represented with two wines from each winery.IMG_8101

Barone Pizzini Brut”Animante” 78% Chardonnay 18% Pinot Noir 4% Pinot White. The winery is certified organic and states on the label “organic wine”. There are 5,000/6,250 plants per hectare. Soft pressing and fermentation in thermo steel tanks. The wine ages for 6 months in stainless steel tanks and bottle aging is on the lees for 20/30 months. The wine has citrus notes with hints of honey, apricot and dried fruit.

Barone Pizzini Satèn 100% Chardonnay. The soil type is Moraine and the training system is guyot. Soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation is thermo steel tanks. The wine is aged for 6 months in steel barrels and remains on the lees for 30/40 months. Residual sugar is 6g/l. The wine has citrus notes and nice minerality.

Il Mosnel Brut 60% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Blanc. Half of the Chardonnay is fermented in small oak barrels and half from a different vintage is fermented in steel. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc are fermented in steel. Each bottle is given the liqueur de triage and laid down for the second fermentation. After a minimum of 18 months on the lees, the wine is riddled to concentrate the sediment against the cap, disgorged and re-corked. The wine has hints of white flowers and peach and a touch of almonds in the finish.IMG_8104

Il Mosnel Satèn 2010 100% Chardonnay, 60% fermented in steel and the rest in small oak barrels. In spring it is given the liqueur de triage and laid down for the second fermentation. Less sugar in the liqueur makes the mousse less forceful. After a minimum of 30 months on the lees, the wine is riddled. This is a silky, fruity full-bodied wine. The residual sugar is 8g/l. Organic farming.

Monte Rossa Brut 85% Pinot Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Blanc. Soft pressing of the best grapes with no more than 55% of the total yield. Partially fermented in steel tubs at a controlled temperature and partially fermented in oak barrels. The wine has strawberry aromas and flavors with an undertone of brioches with added to depth to the wine.IMG_8106

Monte Rossa Cabochon 2009 70 % Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and selecting the best grapes for no more than 58% of the total yield. Fermentation is in first and second passage barriques between September and February. The wine is aged on the lees for 48 months. The bottles are not sold until at least 4 months after the dègorgeage. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with more than hints of brioches which gave it much more depth.IMG_8107

Montenisa Brut Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and a small amount of Pinot Noir. The first fermentation takes place partly in stainless steel vats and partly in barriques. The second fermentation is in the bottle with at least 30 months contact on the yeast. The remuage is carried out by hand according to ancient tradition, using typical pupitres (trestle tables). After the degorgement the bottles remain in the cellars fro 3 months before release. The wine has hints of peaches and apples and a hint of yeast. The winery is partly owned by Marchese Antinori.

Montenisa Rosè 100% Pinot Noir. In the early spring, following alcoholic fermentation partly in stainless steel vats and in barriques, the wine underwent a second fermentation in the bottle and remains in contact with the yeast for at least 24 months. Remuage is by hand. After degorgement the bottles were laid down for at least 3 months before release. The wine is full bodied with hints of strawberry and cherry.IMG_8119

Ricci Curbastro Brut 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks, followed in spring by the draft with the beginning of a slow second fermentation in the bottle. The bottles remain in the stack for at least 30 months (total of 38 from the harvest) contact and autolysis of the yeast. After disgorgement, with the addition of liqueur di triage(very dry) 8g/l,the wine remains in the cellar for a few months before release. This is a dry elegant fruity wine with floral hints and a touch of baked bread.

Ricci Curbastro Satén 100% Chardonnay fermented in oak barrels. The bottles remain in the stack for at least 40 months (total 48 from the harvest). There is an addition of liqueur very dry 7g/l. The wine remains in the cellar a few months before release. It is an elegant wine with fruity notes, a hint of spice and a touch of toasted almond.

Ronco Calino Brut 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir from Burgundy clones. The training system is guyot and spurred cordon and there are about 6,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand and there is a manual selection of clusters before pressing which occurs in the first week of September. There is a soft pressing of the entire grape cluster and initial fermentation in thermo-conditioned stainless steel tanks and 20% in French oak barrels. At least 24 months on the lees before disgorging. The wine has hints of pear, cherries and candied orange peel with a touch of spice.IMG_8117

Ronco Calino Satèn 100% Chardonnay. There are about 6,000 to 8,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand the third week of August. Soft pressing of the grapes, fermentation in stainless steel. 30% is aged in French oak barriques. There is a low percentage of liqueur de triage. The wine has hints of pear, peach and cherry and a touch of brioches.

Contaldi Castaldi Brut NV 80% Chardonnay 10% Pinot Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir training system guyot and casarsa (a variation of guyot). There are 3,000 /5000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 15 years. Harvest takes place in August and early September. There is a soft pressing and a cold settling followed by an inoculation of selected yeast. Fermentation is in stainless steel for 20 days and there is partial malolactic fermentation. First aging is for 7 months in steel and barriques. The wine spends 20/25 months on the lees. It has floral notes with hints of lime and peach.IMG_8113

Contaldi Castaldi Rosè NV 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir. Training system is guyot and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. The average age of the vines is 15 years. There is a soft pressing of the grapes after a cold maceration of about 3/4 hours. Cold settling, inoculation with selected yeasts and fermentation for 20 days is stainless steel. There is partial malolactic fermentation. First aging is for 7 months in stainless steel and bariques. The wine ages for 24/30 months on the less. Disgorgement is in July. The wine remains in the bottle for 3/4 months before release. The wine has hints of wild berries, apple and tropical fruit.

Jonathan La Rochelle

Jonathan La Rochelle

Also at the tasting was Jonathan La Rochelle, Brand Ambassador for Bellavista

Bellavista “Alma” Cuveè Brut Jonathan said that alma means soul in Latin and this wine reflects the soul of Franciacorta and Bellavista. The symbol of this wine is the butterfly because it represents harmony and balance, nature at its purest, transformation and rebirth. Made from 80% Chardonnay and 19% Pinot Nero and 1% Pinot Blanc. The balance comes from 30 different selections from over 100 vineyards. Most of the wine is fermented and matures in 228 litter oak barrels for 7 months. The wine consists of at least 6 to 9 older vintages. This is a wine with a depth of flavor with hints of apple, pears and white flowers.IMG_8111

Bellavista Franciacorta Gran Cuvèe Pas Operè 2006 made from 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir. The grapes for this wine come from the most vigorous selection of grapes from vineyards that are over 20 years old with an east and southeast exposure. Most of the must is fermented in small oak barrels. The wine is aged for 6 years before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of honey, apple and herbs. Jonathan said that in 2007 this wine not only changed its label but its name, to Bellavista Pas Opèrè.

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Filed under Barone Pizzini, Bellavista, Contadi Castaldi, Franciacorta Brut, Il Mosnel, Italian Sparkling Wine, Monte Rossa, Montenisa, Ricci Curbastro, Ronco Calino, Uncategorized

Celebrating My Birthday

My birthday celebration this year began the night before. Alfonso Cevola, a friend and fellow blogger “On the Wine Trail in Italy,” was visiting from Texas and we met at La Pizza Fresca for dinner.  We had two wines.

Sciac-trà Ormeasco di Pornassio 2011 DOC GuglierameIMG_3731

I was given this bottle of  Sciac-trà from Liguria for my birthday.  It was one of the most interesting rosato wines I have ever tasted.  It is made from the Ormeasco grape, which is the local name for the Dolcetto grape.  It is vinified in the traditional way.

The wine must be produced from at least 95% Ormaeasco and 5% of other approved red grapes. The grapes are grown on steep slopes high in the mountains at 800 meters. This grape is an early ripener and I believe the name means “crushed before the others.” It is aged for 4 months and does not see any oak. The wine comes from the Rivieradi Ponente in northwestern Liguria and should not be mistaken for the sweet Sciacchetra from the Cinque Terra area of Liguria. It has lively fresh red fruit flavors, a nice finish and a pleasing aftertaste.

The other wine of the evening was my favorite Chianti, Chianti Rufina Riserva 1990 Villa di Vetrice. The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese and there is traditional vinification. The wine is aged in large botti–oak barrels between 45 and 60 HL. The wine was showing no signs of age and will last for a number of years. It is Chianti at its best!

For my birthday dinner, I asked Michele to make some of my favorite food.IMG_3746

When I am in Rome the first I do is head for a restaurant that makes fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies.  I love them.  Since I am not in Rome, Michele and I went to the Greenmarket in Union Square and brought a box containing a dozen zucchini flowers.  When we returned home Michele wanted to know how many she should make and I said all of them.  IMG_3751

When in Rome I drink Prosecco with the flowers but Alfonso had given me a bottle of Franciacorta Grand Cru Pas Opere 2006 Bellavista for my birthday so I decided to try that.

It is made from 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir. The vineyards are on high hills facing south and southeast and the average age of the vines is 20 years.  The wine is aged for 6 years in the cellars and it sees some small oak barrels.  The wine is big and round with nice fruit flavors and good bubbles.

For the next course, Michele made my favorite pasta, bucatini all’Amatriciana, thick tubular pasta strands with a tomato sauce with guanciale or pancetta, and pecorino cheese.  With it we drank IMG_3755Taurasi  “Radici “1995 Mastroberardino DOCG, 100% Aglianico grapes.  The vineyards were on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard was much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest takes place from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release.  This is full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather.IMG_3754

Foe dessert there was a blueberry crostata!

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Filed under Bellavista, Franciacorta Brut, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian Wine, Ormeasco di Pornassio, Sciac-tra

Sparkling New Year

There is a sparkling wine for every occasion.  Here is a list of sparkling wines that I have tried over the last 12 months for you to enjoy in the New Year. The prices range from $300 for a Rose Champagne to $18 for Prosecco, and everything in between.Donnaachiara 006
Spumante Santé Brut IGT 100% Falanghina (Campania) Donna Chiara. The soil is chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October.  Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, owner of the winery, always refers to the vinification system used as the Martinotti method. (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s.) Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it is fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It is great as an aperitif and with fried foods. $20i_vini_03Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). Other good producers are Bisol,  Mionetto and Bocelli $18

Franciacorta Gran Cuveé Saten Brut Bellavista, a special cuvee made from 100% Chardonnay selected from the best vineyard. It is made in the cremant style resulting in lower CO2 pressure, the defining feature of all Saten wines. It is produced in limited quantities using old small barrels as was once done in the past.  Saten is a blanc de blancs and can be made from Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco up to 50%  $50Ferrari 2011 001Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore 2001 Ferrari 100% Chardonnay This is a single vineyard reserve aged wine. The grapes are picked at the end of September in the Maso Pianizza, a vineyard owned by the Lunelli family who also own the winery. The vineyard is in the commune of Trento and is between 500 and 600 meters above sea level with a southwesterly exposure. They use selected yeasts from their own cultures. The wine spends at least 10 years on the lees.  They do not make this wine in every vintage. The first vintage was 1972. This may be the best Method Classico made in Italy.

Ferrari Perlé 2006 Brut, Method Classico, DOC Trento, Italy Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay.  The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family (owners of Ferrari) around the Trento vineyards.  The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast. It is showing very well and in my opinion a bargain at $38.IMG_2471Perrier Jouët Cuvee Belle Epoque Rosé 2004. After vinification the wine is preserved separately, cru by cru, until blending. Chardonnay from the Grand Cruz Cramant  and Avize dominate the blend. The Pinot Noir comes from the Grand Crus Marlly and Verze. Still red wine makes up 9% of the blend. The wine is aged for 6 years before release.  This is the most expensive wine and in my opinion may be worth the money. It is an elegant full-bodied wine with great fruit and hints of strawberries and raspberries and a lot more going on. $300IMG_2467
Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 2007 NV 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. 20% of the wine is matured in oak barrels with weekly batonnage, there is no malolactic fermentation. The sangée method is used following skin contact, which lasts 5 to 8 days in the liquid phase. The wine ages for an average of 4 years in the cellar and another 6 months resting after disgorging to complete its maturity. Dosage varies between 8 to 10 g/l depending on the vintage. There are citrus aromas and hints of strawberry and peach. There was also a toasty spice aroma, which reminded me of gingerbread, and I was told that it was typical of the Roederer Rose.   $65

Champagne “Grand Siècle” Crand Cuvèe NV Laurent-Perrier (Trous-sur Marne) made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.  12 of the most prestigious villages supply the grapes and only the best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. I believe this is a blend of three different vintages. The blended wine is aged during the second fermentation on the yeast for about five years. It has tiny bubbles and complex aromas and flavors that make it go very well with food.IMG_2469
Pol Roger Rosé is based on their Brut Vintage, 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay to which is added before bottling and second fermentation about 15% still red wine (Pinot Noir) from the best crus of the Montagne de Remis. Dosage 9g/L. The wine is aged 7 years in the cellar before release. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with hints of blood oranges and red fruit berries. $110

Paul Roger Cuvée “Sir Winston Churchill” 1999 Champagne Pol Roger created their Prestige Cuvée in homage to Sir Winston IMG_2540Churchill mindful of the qualities that he sought in his champagne: robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity. The exact blend is a closely guarded family secret.  It is a blend of Pinot Noir, which dominates, and Chardonnay.  Composed exclusively of grapes sourced from Grand Cru Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards, which were already under vine during Churchill’s lifetime.
The must undergoes two débourbages (settlings), one at the press house immediately after pressing and the second, a débourbage à froid, takes place in stainless steel tanks at 6°C over a 24 hour period. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks kept to temperatures not exceeding 18°C, with each variety and each village kept separate until final blending. The wine undergoes a full malolactic fermentation. Secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9°C in the lowest Pol Roger cellars (33 meters below street level) where the wine is kept until it undergoes remuage (riddling) by hand, a rarity in Champagne nowadays. The very fine and
persistent mousse for which Pol Roger is renowned owes much to these deep, cool and damp cellars.  $200

Asti DOCG (formally know as Asti Spumante) is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, also known as Moscato Canelli.  It is a sparkling wine produced by using the Charmat method. It is low in alcohol, about 7%, and has aromas and flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits. It should be drunk young because the wine is at its best when it is fresh.  From $14 to $20.  Producers include Bera, Gancia, Cinzano, and Martini and Rossi.
Some producers also make a Metodo Classico.02_vietti_moscato_dAsti
Moscato D’Asti DOCG is made from the same grape as Asti and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG. From $15 t0 $20
Producers: Michele Chiarlo, Fontanafredda, Elio Perrone, La Spinetta and Viettirosa_regale_vrBrachetto D’Acqui DOCG is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts.
Producers include Braida $30 and Banfi-Rosa Regale $20

HAPPY  HOLIDAYS!

 

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Filed under Asti Spumante, Champagne, Franciacorta Brut, Moscato d'Asti, Prosecco, Saten, Sparkling wine, Spumante

Sparkling Italians

One year we spent New Year’s Eve in Venice. We went to a restaurant and had a wonderful seafood dinner and drank sparkling wine. We began with Prosecco and then had a Franciacorta Brut.  With our dessert we drank an Asti Spumante. Walking back to our hotel through Saint Mark’s Square just after midnight was quite an experience. The whole square was filled with people popping sparkling wine corks, drinking the wine from the bottle, laughing and carrying on, and then smashing the bottles on the ground.  To get back to our hotel, we walked through the square as quickly as possible!

The Lion of Saint Mark

Since then we often serve Italian sparkling wine with a seafood dinner for New Years Eve and remember that night in Venice.

Italy produces a vast array of sparkling wines referred to as spumante. They make it in every form from dosage zero (driest) to demi sec (off dry) and everything in between.  Many different grape varieties are used and the wine is made by either the Charmat method wherein the second fermentation takes place in a temperature controlled stainless steel tank, or Metodo Classico where the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle.  They also produce wines, which are slightly sparkling, and these they refer to as frizzante.

Prosecco from the Veneto is the number one selling sparkling wine in Italy. Almost all Prosecco is made by the Charmat method. I like Prosecco as an aperitif, with appetizers, seafood risotto and with fried foods. In Rome I always enjoy Prosecco with fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. There are many good Proseccos on the market at very reasonable prices.

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG “Rustico” Brut Nino Franco 100 % Glera grape. Traditionally the grape was called Prosecco. This is the least expensive of their wines.  $16

Prosecco  “Organic” Treviso DOC Mionetto Made from certified organically grown grapes without the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers.  $15

Bisol, Valdo, Aneri are other producers that I lik

There are individual producers that make good Spumante in the Metodo Classical style in Italy but in general I believe that the best come from the regions of Lombardy (Franciacorta) and Trentino.

Franciacorta

The label on a bottle of Franciacorta only bears the designation “Franciacorta”, this single term defines the territory, the method of production and the wine. All Franciacorta is Metodo Classico and DOCG.

Franciacorta is made from Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir; Pinot Bianco can be used as well, up to 50% of the blend

Franciacorta Gran Cuveé Saten Brut Bellavista A special cuvee made from 100%Chardonnay selected from the best vineyard. It is made in the cremant style resulting in lower CO2 pressure, the defining feature of all Saten wines. It is produced in limited quintiles using old small barrels as was once practiced in the past.  Saten is a blanc de blancs and can be made from Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco up to 50%   $50

Franciacorta Brut this non- vintage wine is made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir Berlucchi The wine is fermented for six months in stainless steel and aged for 12 months before disgorging. After disgorging the bottle is aged for 2 more months in the cellar before release. $30

Dosage Zero Millesimato  Franciacorta  This vintage wine is made from 60% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Bianco and 17% Pinot Noir. Ca’ del Bosco The average age of the vines is 31 years and the harvest takes place the first week of September. $50

Other producers Contadi Castaldi and Monte Rose-look for their Rose Brut

Trentino

Ferrari Brut NV Trento DOC Metodo Classico 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are picked by hand at the beginning of September. They come from various communes in the Val d’Adige, Val di Cembra and Valle dei Laghi. The vineyards are between 300 and 700 meters above sea level, with southeast or southwest exposure. The wine is aged for at least 24 months on the lees. The yeast is selected from Ferrari’s own cultures $25

Ferrari Rosé NV Trento DOC Metodo Classico 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The grapes come from hillside vineyards around the town of Trento at 300 to 600 meters above sea level. The wine is aged for 25-30 months on the lees $37.

If you want something special to celebrate the New Year Italian style then I recommend what I believe may be the finest Metodo Classico wine made in Italy. It is about $100 a bottle and worth it.

Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore This is a single vineyard reserve aged vintage wine. The grapes are picked at the end of September in the Maso Pianizza a vineyard owned by the Lunelli family  that owns Ferrari. The vineyard is in the commune of Trento and is between 500 and 600 meters above sea level with a southwesterly exposure. The wine spends at least 10 years on the lees.  They do not make this wine in every vintage.  The first vintage was 1972

Emilia Romagna

For many years the “industrial” sweet Lambrusco wine that was imported into this country was not very good.  It had a screw cap, was very inexpensive, very sweet and for some reason was very popular during the 1980’s. This sent the wrong message to serious wine drinkers. I often heard it said that no one could make a good Lambrusco!

This has changed and there are some excellent Lambruscos now available here. They were always available in Emilia.

In Italy on New Years Day it is traditional and good luck for the coming year to eat lentils. In Emilia the lentils would be served with cotechino, a large spiced pork sausage.  The wine they would drink with this meal would be a dry, low alcohol (11.5%), high acid Lambrusco with a strawberry accent that is a perfect combination with this dish.

Lambrusco Secco “Concerto” Reggiano DOC Made from the Lambrusco Salamino grape. It is a sparkling dry red wine with traditional fermentation in the Charmat Method. Ermete Medici & Figli. $15 

Lini and Ca de’ Medici are other good producers. Most Lambrusco is made by the Charmat Method but some producers also make a Metodo Classico.

Sparkling Dessert Wines- Piedmont

Asti DOCG (formally know as Asti Spumante) is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, also known as Moscato Canelli.  It is a sparkling wine produced by using the Charmat method. It is low in alcohol, about 7%, and has aromas and flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits. It should be drunk young because the wine is at its best when it is fresh.

Often in the past I would see Italian/Americans putting a cube of sugar in their Asti. I was told it helped the bubbles and made the wine sweeter. Serve it with cookies, plain cakes and panettone.  From $14 to $20

Producers include Bera, Gancia, Cinzano, and Martini and Rossi.

Some producers also make a Metodo Classico

Moscato D’Asti DOCG is made from the same grape as Asti and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG. From $15 t0 $20

Producers Michele Chiarlo, Fontanafredda, Elio Perrone, La Spinetta and Vietti

Asti and Moscato D’Asti can be found for around $20 a bottle

Brachetto D’Acqui DOCG is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts.

Producers  include  Braida $30 and Banfi-Rosa Regale $20

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Filed under Asti, Franciacorta Brut, Italian Sparkling Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Spumante