Milano Wine Week: Spotlight on Franciacorta

The global health crisis we continue to face today has forced us to modify the way we live, work, and interact. But the Northern Italians didn’t let it stop them from holding their annual Milan Wine Week, with all the recommended safety precautions in place, of course. The masterclasses were held in the atrium of the Southern Italian Il Gattopardo Restaurant in Midtown. It is a preferred venue for wine seminars, given the ample events space, well-executed fare, and professional service.

I am an Italian wine fan — with Italy having around 3000 varietals, a wine history spanning thousands of years, and some 20 wine regions — it’s hard to imagine anyone who wouldn’t be. On top of that, I am an Italian sparkling wine lover, so when I learned that renowned Franciacorta producer Berlucchi would be showcasing a trio of its sparkling wines, I had to check it out.

Italy is recognized for its wine diversity. So it should come as no surprise that there are several categories of Italian sparkling wines. Most Italian sparkling wines hail from Northern Italy. There’s Prosecco, Asti (Spumante), Moscato d’Asti, Trentodoc, Lambrusco, and Brachetto d’Acqui, and they differ from one another in terms of their grape composition, method of production, style, and flavor profile.

For instance, whereas Prosecco is produced from the Glera grape using the charmat method, Franciacorta is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Nero. The traditional method is employed to give Franciacorta its effervescence.

Berlucchi was established in 1955. Berlucchi is situated in Lombardy within the Northern
Italian province of Brescia. There are roughly 108 Franciacorta producers in Lombardy. Production is small and highly specialized. Chardonnay comprises roughly 80 percent of grape production, while Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero together make up the remaining 20 percent.

Berlucchi’s first Franciacorta, the Berlucchi ’61, debuted in 1961. It was a joint effort between Guido Berlucchi and winemaker Franco Ziliani.

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The first wine poured was a Berlucchi ’61 Brut blend of 90 percent Chardonnay and 10 percent Pinot Nero. The wine spends a minimum of 2 years in the bottle before being disgorged.

It is fresh with lively mousse, delicate orchard fruit notes, and a lemon zest-tinged finish.

The Berlucchi 61 Rose’ blend of 60 percent Pinot Nero and 40 percent Chardonnay is also aged for at least two years in the bottle before disgorgement.

It is distinguished by notes of ripe raspberry, strawberry, and toast, a concentrated perlage, and a well-balanced acidity.

The Berlucchi 61 Nature blend of 70 percent Chardonnay and 30 percent Pinot Nero is aged at least 5 years before disgorgement. This zero dosage Franciacorta is marked by a fine and persistent effervescence, soft acidity, and bright citrus fruit and baked brioche notes.

A fine lunch that complemented the featured trio of Northern Italian sparkling wines followed.

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