WorldWine Blog

2011-06-30

Franciacorta: Moretti's best

No! The surname "little Champagne" certainly does not fit the Italian Franciacorta region. Mainly because its products are far too distinctive - just think of the Satén, a product which is made of Chardonnay and Pinot blanc only, with less sugar and lees added in the second fermentation and thus with lower pressure than the normal spumante. Bellavista's Premium sparkler Vittorio Moretti is no Satén but an Extra Brut with less than 3 g / l residual sugar. Yet it is a stand-alone product anyway.

To prove this, Moretti an his enologist Mattia Vezzola had organized a vertical tasting in Hamburg, at the beginning of this week - the first of its kind as Moretti emphasized. The comparison with France's Champagne does not work for a number of reasons, if you believe Vezzola. First of all, Franciacorta lacks brand and market power which seems obvious and not surprising for a small area of only 2,800 hectares under vines which has been producing wine only since the beginning of the 1960ies (Bellavista started in 79/80).

Secondly the wines from Franciacorta lack a clear organolptic identity, something which can still be recognized in Champagne in spite of recent changes. Lastly Franciacorta lacks large co-operatives and large-scale producers. Just think of the fact that there are 11 to 13 milion bottles of Amarone produced annually, but only less than 10 milion bottles of Franciacorta. "We probably need another 20 years before becoming a real power on the markets", says Vezzola, but the right strategy to get there seems a very controversal thing among producers - some believing in growing quantities, others in re-enforcing the niche character of their products.

The stand-alone character of Bellavista's Vittorio Moretti Extra Brut which is only produced in outstanding years (1/3 fermente in barrels) and disgorged only after seven years on the lees, lies in its finesse and longevity. To demonstrate this, Moretti and Vezzola had brought wines back to the 1991 vintage with just the 1995 standing a little bit apart because of its marked botrytis and clearly aged aroma. The 2004, too, showed somewhat special, a wine which, for the first time, has not been disgorged in one go, with the second half still lying on the lees. Here are our tasting notes:

2004: silvery straw, little and still a bit irregular perlage, very closed fruit in the nose and on the palate, mousseux and acidity still dominate the palate, hard to assess, this wine will need years in the bottle (or on the lees) to show its full character. ****

2002: very delicate and persistant, yet still somewhat irregular perlage, banana and apple, dried figs in the nose, nice, fruity acidty, good fruit character through to the finish, perceivable minerality, growing volume and length with exposure to the air in the glass, already shows more balance than 2 months ago. *****

2001: pale straw, very fine, regular perlage, orange zest, fine and deep fruit aroma in the nose, whith exposure to the air even some smoke and minerality, dense, firm body, still very fresh, big fruit through to the finish, very elegant wine and the best of the series. *****

1995: intense yellow, perlage completely dissapeared, vanilla, christmas spices in the nose, a bit of yellow stone fruit, marked botrytis and ageing aroma, yet still full bodied and balanced on the palate, tastes like a well aged still wine. ****

1991: intense yellow with hints of green, extremely fine and delicate perlage, good aromatic depth with fruit and spices, very well balanced fruit character on the palate, some sweet cookies and, with exposure to the air, ageing aroma, very well aged wine. *****


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