I love sparkling wine and with the holiday season still in our rearview mirror, I have many pleasant memories of the sound of popping corks. I'm an equal opportunity wine drinker so…Champagne, Cava, Prosecco, Franciacorta…I find a way to enjoy all incarnations of one of my favorite styles of wine.
I made a New Year's resolution to squeeze more enjoyment out of life in 2015, and a part of that includes drinking more bubbly. As I said, I find pleasure in all forms of sparkling wine, but more and more I find the wines of Franciacorta to be some of the most enjoyable, best-bang-for-your-buck wines in our stores.
For those not familiar with Franciacorta, it is a sparkling wine from the Lombardy region of Italy. More specifically it comes from a series of hillside towns to the south of Lake Iseo in the province of Brescia. Franciacorta was awarded DOC status in 1967 and then achieved the DOCG classification in 1995.
Grapes for the production of Franciacorta are strictly regulated. The permitted varieties are 85% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Blanc. Non-vintage Franciacorta may not be released until at least 25 months after the harvest, of which 18 months must be in contact with the yeast in the bottle. Vintage Franciacorta may not be sold for at least 37 months after harvest, of which 30 months must be in contact with the yeast. Essentially Franciacorta is a sparkling wine produced just like French Champagne only with stricter quality regulations.
Ok, so why write about sparkling wine in January? Well why not? Drinking bubbles almost always brings a smile to my face, so why limit our consumption to the holidays? Additionally my favorite wine from Franciacorta, Bellavista, underwent a complete redo in it's packaging and I wanted to reassure our guests.
The new packaging sports a new name and bright orange color scheme. The name "Alma" ("soul" in Latin) was choosen because Bellavista Brut Cuvée ($34.99) reflects the soul of the Franciacorta region and the Bellavista winery. For those who were familiar with the old lable, I assure you this is the same great sparkling wine. If you have never had a bottle of Bellavista, it's time to get acquainted with a wine that is sure to help you celebrate 2015 and put a smile on your face.
Paul Quaglini, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine supervisor
Follow me on Twitter @abcwinepaulq