This is not my first meeting or seminar I attended conducted by Riccardo Ricci Curbastro. I believe it’s my 5th encounter, not including our Wine Lovers Tour visit to the winery several years ago.
His winery of the same name is one of the largest and oldest of the Franciacorta DOCG. In fact his father was one of the original drafters of the petition to become a DOCG.
A little background: Franciacorta is located along Lago Iseo, one of the lakes in northern Italy. Not as famous as Como or Garda, Iseo has one prominent feature: it hosts arguably the finest producers of sparkling wine in Italy. In fact there are 150 wineries and it’s a secret gem that needs to be discovered.
Riccardo always makes the point that the designation ‘spumante’ is not to be used in the same breath as Franciacorta. Saying Spumante Franciacorta is akin to saying Sparkling Champagne; it’s redundant because when you say Champagne, or Franciacorta, you directly imply a sparkling wine.
And besides, the word ‘spumante’ usually reminds people of Asti Spumante, based on the Moscato grape. Whereas, Franciacorta uses the same grapes as in Champagne, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and occasionally Pinot Bianco. These grapes were brought by monks from Burgundy where Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are primary.
At this seminar, part of this year’s version of Simply Italian Americas Tour, we tasted both the winery’s Franciacorta wines but also their wines from Romagna.
Here are the wines with my comments:
Franciacorta DOCG Brut NV: only 35,000 bottles annually, made from Chadonnay (60%), Pinot Blanc (30%), and Pinot Noir (10%), straw yellow color, smooth and creamy taste,high acidity so great as aperitif or with fish;
Franciacorta DOCG Rosé Brut NV, Chardonnay (80%), Pinot Noir (20%), salmon pink color, faint dark cherry aroma, austere flavor because of the acidity, Riccardo calls rosé a ‘light red’ and therefore rosé wines go well with fatty meats and pasta;
Curtefranca Rosso DOC Vigna Santella del Grom 2013: a blend of Cab Franc, Camenère, Cab. Sauvignon, Merlot and Barbera, deep ruby red color, ripe red fruit aroma, rich juicy texture
Sebino IGT Pinot Nero 2011: only 3,000 bottles produced annually, cold maceration for 7 days which he learned from Robert Mondavi, to my mind, it had a tired aroma, still plenty of tannins;
Rontana Sangiovese Colli di Faenza DOC Col Mora 2011: from their Romagna vineyard contiguous to the Chianti Rufina area, the wine had 18 months aging in steel barrels, followed by another 18 months in bottle, crimson red color, cherry aroma and juicy flavors, still tannic after 8 years, a bargain at $15