Back from a short and hectic trip to Italy and the fantastic European Wine Bloggers Conference in Brescia. Yesterday I went to Stockholm for a tasting of some 150 sparkling wines. But alas there were not one single Franciacorta wine among the featured wines. There are only a handfull in the so called “beställningssortimentet” – bottles that aren’t stocked in the monopoly’s shops and that you need to pre-order.
And what a pity it is – because the best Franciacorta sparklers are such stunning wines. Some of us at the conference got to experience that first hand when we visited the historic Guido Berlucchi estate this last sunday. It was here in the village of Corte Franca just south of lake Iseo that it all started back in 1961 when the Berlucchi and Zilliani families decided to make good metodo classico wines. Six years later they got the DOC-denomination but it was not until 1977 that other producers came along.
The Berlucchi operation is almost mindblowingly huge. They produce around 5 million bottles a year and got some state of the art technology. All their wines are made using gyropallettes (and they are quiet open with this – which you’ve got to admire) – even the prestige bottlings. And the wines are really good. Once again a proof for the motto that all good wines really are made in the vineyard!
We met with Cristina Ziliani and Arturo Ziliani (both fantastic hosts) and got to sample 24 of the estates different basewines from different terroirs and different pressings that make up their final cuvées. I also got a chance to talk to both the agronomist and oenologist of the estate and they explained some of the intricacies of working with base wines.
More on that subject later here in Ericsson Uncorked (and it’s swedish counterpart Uppkorkat).
Best of the wines is probably the amazing 100 percent Pinot Noir Palazzo Lana Extrême 2005 from the Brolo vineyards just outside the estate. This is a wine that spends some amazing 48 months on it’s lees before disgorging and it is only done in tiny quantities (around 5000 bottles). I sampled the base wine and it was nothing like what I had expected. It was quite round and mellow and had loads of red berries, some notes of fudge and minerals. And the end-product was spectacular.
On the nose I got those complex aromas of red berries, yeasts, minerals, cocoa powder and flowers. On the palate it was quite powerful with intense fruity flavours, fresh acidity, hints of chocolate/cocoa powder and minerals. I’m usually a blanc de blancs kinda guy but I must say that this wine impressed me. It would be so interesting to taste it along some of the best blanc de noirs from Champagne. My guess is that it will do very well in such a line up!