Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

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Tran Bronstein
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#1 Post by Tran Bronstein » February 8th, 2015, 3:13 pm

Bubbleheads,

The LCBO recently brought in an Italian sparkling wine that I had never heard of called Franciacorta. Not being a fan of Prosecco at all, I was going to pass on this until an LCBO consultant informed me that it was actually quite unique in that it was an Italian wine done in the traditional method.

So I gave it a try and was quite surprised at the quality of the wine. Similar to Champagne, it is made with the same grapes of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Italy in the same style. Definitely got the biscuit and green apple flavors. It lacks the flintiness and austere acidity compared to grower's Champagnes I've had but was also quite rich and full in mouthfeel, you can tell it comes from warm climate grown fruit. A pretty good deal when you consider that it's half the price of a good grower's champagne.

So I researched this and found to my surprise that there's yet another type of Italian traditional sparkling wine -- Trento. I have never seen either Trento or Franciacorta mentioned by any of the bubbleheads here. Is this an oversight? Are there any fans of either wine here on the boards? Any thoughts to share or recommendations to make on these two wines?
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#2 Post by Nolan E » February 8th, 2015, 3:25 pm

Aside from Roberto, not many other people would be willing to talk about them.

I've had some vintage Saten (blanc de blancs of either Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc) that have rivaled $100+ prestige cuvees from Champagne, and some wonderful Trento wines that I prefer to many basic NV Champagne bottles.

For Franciacorta, the one producer I have a lot of experience with is Contadi Castaldi (don't remember which vintage Saten really knocked my socks off) and for Trento I really enjoy Ferrari and Rotari. The Ferrari has some higher end stuff but the basic BdB for ~$25 is great and the Rotari beats anything under $20 and should be on the shelf for around $12. All prices USD, of course.
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#3 Post by Eric Ifune » February 8th, 2015, 5:34 pm

Franciacorta has been mentioned a few times. I know I have. For me, it's the closest to real Champagne among all the world's sparkling wines. Some high end versions are truely great. Ca Del Bosco and Bellavista are probably the best known brands, but some of the smaller producers can produce very nice wines.

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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#4 Post by G. Greenbaum » February 8th, 2015, 5:51 pm

Jeremy Parzen is the Franciacorta ambassador. Read up on http://www.dobianchi.com.
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#5 Post by Tran Bronstein » February 8th, 2015, 5:59 pm

Thanks for that link. Good to know that Franciacorta is made from fully ripened grapes. This would explain the richness and ripeness I was detecting. I will definitely be exploring more of this wine now.
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#6 Post by Gary York » February 8th, 2015, 8:46 pm

I like Franciacorta. I just don't find much QPR with it. But some good ones are listed above like - Bellavista (one of the most beautiful bottles every created), Ca del Bosco and Contadi Castaldi. Another that I like a great deal and a good QPR

http://www.tenuta-mazzolino.com/cruaseENG.html

If you want to try a sparkler that is made from Italian grapes. This is very good and a good value also. There is a movement in Italy to make sparklers from native grapes and to move away from trying to make Champagne.

http://www.orsolani.com/en/wines/42-cuv ... mante-doc2
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#7 Post by John Morris » February 8th, 2015, 9:03 pm

Tran Bronstein wrote:Not being a fan of Prosecco at all....
Most Prosecco is sweet swill produced in the vast plains of the Po Valley, but there is now a DOCG, Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene, for Prosecco from steep hillsides in the core of the original zone: http://www.prosecco.it/en/ These wines are nothing like Champagne, but they are less sweet and can have some real interest. And they're still great values. I would guess some of them make it into Ontario.
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#8 Post by jcoley3 » February 8th, 2015, 9:59 pm

Prosecco and Franciacorta may be Italian fizz, but that's where the comparison stops. Franciacorta sometimes gets compared to Champagne, but realistically the best of the former gets touted with the better side of the average of the latter.
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#9 Post by Bill Klapp (deactivated) » February 8th, 2015, 11:21 pm

jcoley3 wrote:Prosecco and Franciacorta may be Italian fizz, but that's where the comparison stops. Franciacorta sometimes gets compared to Champagne, but realistically the best of the former gets touted with the better side of the average of the latter.
Uh, not exactly. Prosecco yes, subject to the one important DOCG exception that John notes above (and even there, you get something drier and more refreshing than most Prosecco, but surely not Champagne), but Franciacorta, absolutely not. A wine like Bellavista Cuvee Saten is a legitimate alternative to Champagne, which is itself a unique but mythologized and largely overrated wine when you consider the ocean of Champagne out there and the tiny number of bottlings that can stand with the world's best wines. If I am going to drink Champagne, I will pay the freight and drink something truly and consistently outstanding like Krug vintage, rather than roll the dice on the grower Champagne enjoying its 15 minutes of fame today. On the other hand, if (like most of us, I suspect) I want no more than the versatility with food that A sparkling wine offers, I will most often go to a top Franciacorta before I will go to a comparably priced Champagne. $60 (maybe less these days) buys you top-tier Franciacorta; Champagne, not so much.

As with Champagne, and really, sparkling wines everywhere, price alone is no guarantee of quality, and one has to experiment with Franciacorta to discover which one likes and which offer the best QPR. Jim is right that a lot of Francicorta will lose head-to-head competitions against comparably priced Champagne, but also true that the best Franciacorta can crush a lot of mediocre, comparably priced or more expensive Champagne. For me, "average" quality is meaningless in the context of both Champagne and Franciacorta, and ultimately, so are comparisons between the two. Both zones have relatively little in the way of terroir, and winemaking style is everything, so it becomes a game of picking a sparkling wine that you like for a price that you are comfortable paying. If the odds favor Champagne in that, it is in part because there are so many more to choose from, and since Champagne is as much about marketing as it is about wine, its landscape is constantly changing. That is not true of Franciacorta...

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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#10 Post by Ian Sutton » February 9th, 2015, 3:11 pm

Although we holidayed in Trentino just over a year ago, we probably had more beer than wine. That said the sparklers do have a very good reputation, and when we head back there this autumn, we'll probably visit 2-3 producers. Francesco Moser will be one, as much as a homage to his cycling I suppose. I'd like to visit Lunelli as well, and I suppose Ferrari though they are very much the 'name' of the region alongside Foradori for the reds.

Franciacorta is very well established and can be very good indeed, though all too often I'm left underwhelmed by so many sparkling wines (Champagne included)
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#11 Post by Oliver McCrum » February 9th, 2015, 3:37 pm

As Gary said, there is a movement to make Classic Method sparkling wines from Italian indigenous varieties that are high in acidity (such as Fiano, Verdicchio, Cortese and others). I'm not a fan of Franciacorta, or indeed any Italian wine that is based on French varieties and a French wine style.

Prosecco is completely different, different variety, different winemaking, different classic dosage (Extra Dry, as opposed to Brut for Champagne).
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#12 Post by D@v1dZ » February 9th, 2015, 3:43 pm

I really like Franciacorta, and I don't think its fair to tar it as being "as good as mediocre champagne".

It's a different beast. It's riper. Richer. Shows its dosage more. Think of the relationship between a good, but unabashedly California chardonnay, like Ridge MB, and a nice Puligny. That's how I think of Franciacorta v. Champagne. I find Franciacorta to be an EXCELLENT pairing for whole meals because it can handle pretty much any form of protein other than red meat. (Much in the same way that Krugian champagnes can.) It's my go-to bottle order in an Italian restaurant unless I'm ordering something with a tomato sauce - it kills with butter / beurre blancs.

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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#13 Post by Tran Bronstein » February 9th, 2015, 7:17 pm

Hey Guys,

I attended the Simply Italian Wine Show today and what should be center stage along with all the Amarone, Ripasso and Prosecco? FRANCIACORTA!

And not just any Franciacorta, mind you. We're talking quality stuff as my Franciacorta porn shows, including a Brut, an Extra Brut, an outstanding aged 10 year old 100% Chardonnay Saten, and even a Demi-Sec. Absolutely outstanding stuff.

Unfortunately, there is only one Franciacorta available at the LCBO right now and it's nowhere near as good as what I tasted at the show. But the SAQ in Montreal where my family is does have quite a number of different bottles. Time to go shopping!
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#14 Post by Gary York » February 9th, 2015, 9:09 pm

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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#15 Post by jcoley3 » February 10th, 2015, 9:43 am

Bill Klapp wrote: As with Champagne, and really, sparkling wines everywhere, price alone is no guarantee of quality, and one has to experiment with Franciacorta to discover which one likes and which offer the best QPR. Jim is right that a lot of Francicorta will lose head-to-head competitions against comparably priced Champagne, but also true that the best Franciacorta can crush a lot of mediocre, comparably priced or more expensive Champagne. For me, "average" quality is meaningless in the context of both Champagne and Franciacorta, and ultimately, so are comparisons between the two.
This I basically agree with, and that Bellavista Saten is indeed quite fine for its price. I think my view of what an "average" Champagne may be somewhat skewed by my tendency to largely avoid certain Grande Marques (not all) and focus on established growers. Both have a home in the sparkling wine bar I am a part of, though Champagne certainly outsells Franciacorta!
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#16 Post by Bill Klapp (deactivated) » February 10th, 2015, 9:59 am

Push the Champagne. It leaves more Franciacorta for the rest of us. After some trial and error, my sparkling beverage cellar consists of 1996 Krug, Bellavista Cuvee Saten, Diet Coke, a fine prosecco (5 Euros on sale!) for making Aperol Spritzes and Guizza, a frizzante acqua minerale that costs 14 Euro cents for a two-liter bottle, sold only in supermercati that nobody on this board would be likely to enter! I am thinking about adding a single bottle of 1996 Krug Mesnil. I may blow my next Social Security check on one. And I would add a little Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper, but it is not sold in Italy, and I think that a 12-pack shipped in from amazon UK will cost me $75. As you can see, I am a man for all seasons...

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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#17 Post by GOUT@M J » January 10th, 2016, 8:43 pm

I had someone recommend Franciacorta to me recently. I generally like sparkling wines but not ones that are too sweet, which is why it was recommended to me. Can someone suggest a couple of producers to try out as an "introduction"? I see Bellavista a lot but I wasn't sure if they just produce in large quantity (I have no idea) or if they're a good producer? Thanks in advance!

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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#18 Post by M Passo » January 10th, 2016, 9:58 pm

I had a tasting at Salone del Gusto 3 years ago and it was Italy versus French champagne ( I know this is redundant!). No Krug mind you but the level of goodness is admirable. Not QPR at the tasting but very delicious stuff including Ferrari, Picchioni, and Ca'del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi. If I was sitting in a lovely Italian restaurant I would order without concern. To someone who is used to champagne---I say there is nothing like champagne. Mike
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Italian TRADITIONAL Sparkling Wine -- Tell me About Franciacorta and Trento!

#19 Post by Ken V » January 11th, 2016, 8:25 pm

Here are my notes from a tasting that Jeremy Parzen put on:
http://www.finewinegeek.com/tn/2015-07- ... nciacorta/

plus one more at the lunch that followed:
http://www.finewinegeek.com/tn/2015-07- ... I-Trullli/
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