Just In Time For Valentines Day...
This Valentine's Day looks a little different this year, no fancy meals out or romantic trips away. The city won't be flooded with pairs, or retail outlets profiting off of our affection. This year the holiday has been stripped back, but the most important factor remains... love.
I've never been a great Valentine's Day fan. For years I believed it was a Hallmark holiday, forcing us to feel we need to purchase gifts to portray the strength of our affection. I feel a little differently this year. Now more than ever we need to take the time to tell the people we love how much we love them and treat them a little more specially come the 14th. This doesn't need to be a romantic relationship. Celebrate with your parents, siblings, grandparents, friends or significant other and be there for the ones you have seen lockdown through with. This year, more than ever, we need to spread love.
I will be spending my Valentine's day with my Mum and Brother (and hopefully my boyfriend) and I plan on enjoying with a beautiful bottle of Franciacorta. This sparkling wine comes from Franciacorta in Lombardy, Italy, the home of Italian Traditional method sparkling wine. This region became Italy's largest producer of traditional sparkling after the Berlucchi Family fell in love with Champagne and wanted to replicate it in the 1970's for the Italian nation to enjoy, what a gift!
Traditional method is the production process often referred to as the 'Champagne Method.' This is a complex process which I've touched upon on my TAITTINGER blog post. Franciacorta is made from two of the Champagne varieties, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The perfect pair. This wine however is solely made from Chardonnay.
Located in Central Northern Italy, Lombardy is home to this fantastic region. The rich apple, pear, peachy, digestive, pastry character (called autolysis) of these wines are famous for their outstanding quality and premium price (I bought this bottle for £28).
The high standards of grape growing are so important in achieving the quality product. The warm continental climate benefits from cold moderating temperatures which descend down and breeze through the region in the summer months. Located North of the region, hugging the boundary is Lake Iseo which too helps moderate the temperatures by retaining heat later into the winter season and helping to keep the grapes warm for longer, extending the ripening season and resulting in the ripe fruitiness of this sparkling wonder.
Today the excitement of the region is tangible as the next generation have taken over, experimenting and creating 'terroir' based expressions (the natural environment, climate, soils and topography in the vineyard that impacts the final wine). These winemakers are making the wines in such a way that 'dosage,' is no longer added. Dosage is the final process of Traditional method winemaking adding a wine and sugar mix to finish the final product. The sugar levels depend on sweet style of the wine. So, if for dry Champagne known as 'BRUT' only about 12g per litre will be added, adding a final complexity to the wine. The new generation of Franciacorta producers are ripening their fruit in such a way that this addition is no longer needed.
Similarly, Champagne having 'Blanc de Blanc' or Blanc de Noirs' indicating white wine made from only white or black grapes, Franciacorta does too. This wine is made in the 'Satèn' style and is only made from white grapes, typically 100% Chardonnay. By law these wines need to spend a minimum time of 24 months in contact with lees (the dead yeast that gives the wine the autolysis character). They can only be made in Brut style, meaning dry. The lesser amount of time on lees in comparison to Champagne is notable. Champagne spends three years minimum on lees by law. Instead of the rich creamy, doughy, biscuit character this wine has a subtler biscuit and pastry character.
This wine is made by Ugovezzoli, a producer with a deep history who famously practices organic and biodynamic wine production. Ugovezzoli is made by the Vezzoli Family who have a history of agriculture, first with cereal then in silk production. 1981 saw the first plantings of Chardonnay and the rest is history. This 3-hectare vineyard is a DOCG certified, the highest quality standard one can achieve in Italy, showing the quality of these delicate bubbles. Ugovezzoli produce an average of 20,000 bottle of Franciacorta of different styles. This delicious golden delight is short supply, so I suggest snapping up a bottle when you can!
I am spending this Valentine's day making pasta, loading up on carbs and enjoying with a bottle of this delicately soft, beautifully rich sparkling.
In the words of Carrie Bradshaw, I couldn't help but wonder... is this the perfect match?
So, whoever you are spending V-day with, enjoy, share the love and don't feel pressured to run out and buy expensive gold jewellery, just buy a bottle of these golden sparkles and I promise it will go down a treat.
Sending big love to everyone, Cheers!