Last year, when I was out in Italy, I started seeing lots of Franciacorta knocking around the local bars. Made up in Lombardy (the region of Milan), it’s a sparkling wine made in the same method as Champagne and Cava. But I hadn’t seen much of it the UK, so was pretty chuffed when I had the chance head down to a Franciacorta tasting on Monday night.
Franciacorta’s actually pretty young. It was dreamed up in the 1950s by a couple of fellas who found this amazing natural amphitheatre up in Lombardy, near the lakes, that looked great for grape growing. They made it using the traditional method, so it’s more appropriate to compare it to Champagne and Cava than to the other Italian sparkling powerhouse, Prosecco.
It’s much fruitier than Champagne. You have to remember, it’s pretty nippy up there in Champagne. South of the Alps it’s that bit warmer, so the fruit characters are much more peachy and apricot than the apple you get in Champagne.
Otherwise there’s a touch more aromatics in there from the choice of grapes. They use Pinot Blanc instead of Pinot Meunier, like in Champagne, so naturally that gives it a bit more fruit anyway.
The other fun thing about Franciacorta is that, given how young it is, they’re making plenty of different styles. From young non-vintages, extra bruts, rosés, and an incredible thing called Satèn that you’ve got to have a go at.
Final thing before I stop bombarding you with info, is that as it’s an Italian wine then it is made to go with food. We had everything from fried beef to sushi with them, and at some point, or some style, it worked brilliantly.
It was all put on as part of London Wine Week. If you want to head down yourself to try these great wines, then pop along to Bar 1901 at the Andaz Hotel just by Liverpool Street Station.