Last Thursday members and guests of Women for WineSense gathered for a relaxing evening of bubbly from Franciacorta.

Who? Where? What?

Franciacorta is not only a wine-growing region in Italy (in Lombardy, specifically), but “Franciacorta” also defines the production method as well as the wine. Saluté!

It’s near the Alps, east of Milan.

Enjoying a lovely glass of Ca del Vent Saten, attendees watched Paul Wagner’s presentation on this little known (in America) wine region. Paul, founder and CEO of Balzac Communications, explained that Franciacorta is a region of many “firsts” in Italy’s wine business.

It is the first wine produced in traditional method to obtain Italy’s highest appellation award of DOCG.

He also explained their strict standards for style of non-vintage, vintage and riserva wines. For example, the first wine we sampled was produced in the Saten style (which can be vintage or non-vintage). Other requirements for this style in Franciacorta include use of 100% Chardonnay with a minimum of 24 months on the lees. It can be produced in the Brut flavor profile only with bottle pressure less than 5 atm.

Throughout Paul’s presentation the group nibbled on spectacular charcuterie and cheese platters paired to perfection by Valley Wine Shack proprietor, Windee Smith.

Other Franciacorta bubbly we enjoyed sampling included Contadi Castaldi Rose, 2011 Il Mosnel, Ricci Cubastro Brut and the fabulous Bellavista Cuvee Brut. Each was unique, representing different flavor profiles and production styles.

For comparison, Paul showed us a chart depicting the various yields per hectare, irrigation and maturity period permitted across much of Europe from Cava to Champagne. This was followed by food pairing suggestions for Franciacorta’s bubbly flavor profiles, from the Undose to Demi Sec styles.

Ironically, although Franciacorta has been producing still wines since the 16th century, it has only been in the last fifty years producers have organized to create fabulous sparkling wines as well as establish strict high standards for the region’s products.

To learn more, visit their Franciacorta tourist site or download Balzac Communications’ slide presentation (now in PDF) shown last week.

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