Usually I write about something after the fact, like the Picpoul De Pinet post from last Saturday. We had tasted it Friday and sold out in no time so I thought that deserved a post. Tomorrow night we are tasting Quattro Mani Franciacorta (say that real fast three times) and while I am sure I have tasted Franciacorta in the past I am woefully ignorant about it. Time to do some homework and get literate.
Franciacorta is a subregion of the province of Bresia in the region of Lombardy in northern Italy. It is also the name of the process for making the sparkling wine of the same name. This is an old region of habitation with the name literally meaning the 'court of the Franks' which either applies to the Germanic people who once ruled there or is attibutable to Charlemagne who thought the region so ideal he considered it 'little France'. Written documentation of Franciacorta wine goes to 1277 but inhabitation goes back to paleolithic times.
The region is just south of the Alps, has two large lakes on opposite sides, and features rolling hills formed by glaciers. A moraine is a glacial deposit of rock and soil (actually debris) that has been moved over time by the glacier from other hillsides or valleys to a new location. In the case of Franciacorta, the terraine is gravel and sand moraine over limestone with a resultant superior drainage. All of these qualities make this region ideal for grape growing with the Alps and the lakes serving to moderate temperatures.
Franciacorta is one of three european metodo classico (method champagne) sparkling wines along with Spanish Cava and French Champagne. This method asserts that the secondary fermentation of the wine occurs in the bottle instead of in a tank. The blend of Franciacorta must be 85% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Nero (Noir), and 5% Pinot Bianco (Blanc). If a rose is being made, the Pinot Nero may be 15%-25% or more of the blend. For a non-vintage sparkler Franciacorta must be aged on the lees for eighteen months minimally. For a vintage dated version that aging must be a minimum of thirty months but may be up to 5-7 years. This aging is done for complexity and roundness in the mouth.
Franciacortas in general are lighter than French Champagne, very dry and austere, and should be drunk within three years although some last seven years. Franciacorta is Italy's best sparkling wine and received its DOC ranking in 1967 and after delimiting its grape composition received its DOCG in 1995.
David Klepinger of Northeast Sales will pour the Franciacorta and Barbera from Quattro Mani on Thursday evening May 17th here at the store along with William Hill Cabernet Sauvignon and more. Please join us.