Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Barone Pizzini "Animante" Franciacorta Brut

Barone Pizzini "Animante" Franciacorta Brut

Brescia, Lombardy, Italy

When Americans think Italian bubbles, most think Prosecco. But there's a whole wide world of Italian sparkling wine out there. In my humble opinion, Franciacorta is its king.

These beautiful bubbles hail from the province of Brescia in Lombardy, Italy. Franciacorta is made in the Metodo Classico -- the same process as Champagne! The grapes are even the same, except most producers substitute a bit of Pinot Bianco in place of Pinot Meunier.

A small point of differentiation that can make a big difference is the minimum ageing period: non-vintage Champagne must spend 12 months on the lees before disgorgement, where Franciacorta must spend 18 months. While many producers in both regions go above and beyond the minimum, you can be guaranteed an extra boost of autolysis in even entry level Franciacorta.

The Animante is made of Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, and Pinot Bianco. Following the secondary fermentation in bottle, the wine rests for 20 to 30 months on the lees, bringing out a lovely toasty character. As with all products from Barone Pizzini, this wine also happens to be organic.

Review: The Animante is a gorgeous golden color with small, persistent bubbles. The nose is full of quince, pear, and ripe apple; toasted hazelnuts and almonds; fresh pastry, popover, and brioche. The palate is dry with a round texture and a generous mousse. All of the notes from the nose are present, plus a hint of minerality. The finish is long and lingering. 

This wine is truly spectacular. Integrated fruit and autolytics; balanced structure of moderate alcohol, zest acidity, and teeny tiny bubbles. Long, long finish.

Food Pairing: Anything from oysters to lamb! I put this with a rich goat cheese and roasted fennel salad.

Bottom Line: Complexity and intensity abounds. An amazingly rich alternative to Champagne.

Wine Geekery:
  • VINTAGE: Non Vintage
  • PLACE: Franciacorta DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)
  • GRAPES: Chardonnay 78%, Pinot Nero 18%, Pinot Bianco 4%
  • BOOZE: 12% 
  • AGEING: 20-30 months on the lees
  • CELLAR: Drink for up to 5 years post disgorgement (it has the date on the bottle!)
Where did I get it? I picked this up at as a sample at a tasting. 
What's the damage? Super Premium 

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