Wine Review: Ca’ del Bosco Brut NV Franciacorta

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Franciacorta originates from the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. The beverage carries DOCG status, the highest quality designation and controls in the Italian wine world, and is considered to be a world class sparkling wine.

The wine undergoes the same general fermentation process as the French champagne, but is regulated to have longer lees contact than champagne, and uses slightly different grapes.

To translate: wines made in the methode traditionelle process (that by which champagne is also made), or metodo classico as it is called in Italy, undergo an initial fermentation as wine generally does, but then a second fermentation is done in the bottle, which introduces the bubbles to the wine. Another flavoring element in this method of sparkling wine production is called aging on lees–this is where the wine is left to rest on the yeast cells that remain after the completed initial fermentation process (prior to the secondary in-bottle fermentation). These yeast cells are now inert but still bring additional flavor, body, and character to the wine as it ages in their mix. While champagne is regulated to demand a minimum of 15 months aging on lees, Franciacorta demands 18. This is thought to produce greater complexity, a smoother body, and a stronger presence of minerality. Further, while champagne is made of a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier, Franciacorta switches out the last of these to instead use pinot blanc for a blend of three grapes.

Though inevitable comparisons to champagne are of course made, the producers of Franciacorta emphasize that they are not trying to imitate the famous French wine, and will sometimes outright refuse discussions of the sort. The production regulations carried by the DOCG focus on what is most effective for its region, and grapes, in this way striking a balance between established tradition and any necessary upgrades. The climate of the Lombardy region, and the choice of Pinot Blanco too certainly generate their own variation.

Ca’ del Bosco is considered one of the finest examples of Franciacorta. It’s vintage renditions have won blind tastings going up against examples of the finest sparkling wines from all over the world.

This particular NV Brut offers an incredibly drinkable sparkling wine option. The price point is similar to that of champagne, so it will offer no savings in that regard. However, the acidity here is moderate, reducing the sense of tang that cooler northern climate sparklers often carry. The palate here is well-balanced, and delicate but flavorful. There are light minerals on this drink, but they offer a pleasant, though moderate finish. The Ca’ del Bosco NV Brut shows a nice blend of fruit, white flowers, and grass+hay. The last two of these giving a more grounded quality to the wine overall, which I appreciated.

This is a clean, crisp, and fresh wine, good for drinking with mixed company–those more experienced with sparkling wines, and those unsure of them. I have to emphasize the initial descriptor I just gave there–this drink is impressively clean. As such, this wine will serve as a nice apertif, but with it’s range of flavors and grounded quality I have to say I’m dying to try it with a classic Italian style wood fired pizza with easy, clean toppings. My favorite is the margherita.

If you’d like to read more about Franciacorta here are two other blogs with brief discussions of the wine worth introducing yourself to:

From Learn Italian Wines

http://learnitalianwines.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/franciacorta-2/

and from A Wine Story

http://awinestory.com/2011/08/ca-del-bosco-in-franciacorta.html

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If you happen to be in, or travel through Flagstaff, AZ, be sure to stop at the award winning Pizzicletta. Caleb just opened his doors this summer, and he’s already been recognized in national magazines, and was given the local “Best New Restaurant” 2011 award. His pizzas are all handmade, and wood fired with excellent ingredients. Fantastic!

You can find him online on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Pizzicletta or on Twitter @Pizzicletta

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