Franciacorta, Italy’s Premium Sparkling Wine

What and Where is Franciacorta?

Franciacorta is a sparkling wine from the Province of Brescia, Northern Italy with DOCG status. It was first referenced as Franzacurta in the Eighth Book of Brescia in 1277. Guido Berlucchi produced the first Franciacorta in 1961, and during 1995 the sparkling wines of Franciacorta were awarded DOCG status. This tells you that Franciacorta has some history but it’s is a very young wine appellation and it has some serious merit.

Franciacorta’s layered geological formations boast complex microclimates. The wines are defined by both a sub-Alpine and Mediterranean-type climate due to the proximity of Lake Iseo. 

The wines are produced using the Méthode Champenoise, or ‘Traditional Method’, in which the second fermentation takes place in the bottle, using a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Bianco grapes This gives the wine more yeast contact, and results in a drier wine with biscuit and brioche notes creating a long finish.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit this beautiful wine region and here is an overview.

I visited Ca’ del Bosco and was fortunate to see the harvest and quality control taking place.

Founded in 1969, is an icon of Italy’s Franciacorta region. The winery’s state-of-the-art cellar, unique in Franciacorta, has allowed the winemaking team to produce the best wines possible and with the highest quality. Their wines have collectively earned 41 “Tre Bicchieri” awards by Italy’s Gambero Rosso, since 1998, the second-highest awarded winery in history by the publication.

Here is my video of what we saw on our tour.

Wines Tasted:

Vintage Collection Saten
Tasting Notes: silky smooth, soft, and well-rounded

Cuvee Prestige
Tasting Notes:  a well-balanced wine, fresh and crisp

Vintage Collection Brut
Tasting Notes: structured, full-bodied, intense and persistent.  

Other Wines In The Region

On my second day, I visited the co-op of  Cantine La Pergola. This winery is certified organic and uses a small percentage of sulfite.

Founded in 1979, Cantine La Pergola is made up of 45 members, 30 of which confer grapes, and control 80 hectares of vineyards, 90% of which are organic: with the annual production reaching 300,000 bottles (50% certified organic).

Wines Tasted:

VALTÈNESI DOC CHIARETTO – SELENE (2016)
Note: This wine is known as the “wine of the first night” because it is literally produced in one night.

Tasting Notes: beautiful floral notes; well balanced; light elegant wine

La Pergola Lugana
Tasting Notes: soft floral notes, excellent balance some hints of jasmine

La Pergola – Eos (2012)
Note: autochthonous grape varietal Groppello (cultivated 1300) with small percentages of Marzemino, Barbera and Sangiovese.

Tasting Notes:  bright ruby red; aroma and taste recall spices, herbaceous notes, and minerals and persistent almond aftertaste

La Pergola – Brol (2010)
Notes: Aged 18 month in second-hand oak barrels; limited production (5000
liters per year)
Tasting Notes: Red fruits with some spice notes; high acidity

In addition to producing delicious local wines, Cantine La Pergola also produces olive oil and organizes bike tours.

 Azienda Agricola Ricci Curbastro. This winery is quite historical with a history of 17 generations. The owner, Mr Cubastro introduced me to the soon-to-be 18th generation, his eldest son.

The most impressive aspect of this vineyard is that it is one of the few family-owned in the region. I also toured their museum which incorporated historic winemaking tools. Cubastro winery owns 32 hectares of vineyards and has created solar energy panels that help run and maintain the winery. The next step for this winery is to convert all of their production to organic.

 

 

 

Wines Tasted:

Franciacorta Brut
Note: blend of 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc, 10% Pinot Nero
Tasting Notes: Light, easy to drink, hints of floral notes

Franciacorta Rose Brut
Note: This salmon pink wine is perfect for the nice warm summer day
Tasting Notes: Light; refreshing, hints of floral note

Sebino IGT Bianco ZeroNote: No preservatives or chemical treatment
Tasting Notes: Nice minerality and freshness; good balance

I also visited Azienda Barone Pizzini, the first organic winery in the Franciacorta region. Silvano Brescianini, General Manager and Vice President of the Consortium provided us with a tour and details about the winery.

We started our session watching a video about the historical aspect of the winery. The video can be viewed here. The most impressive aspect of this winery is how organized it is and how the facilities are arranged. Is it no surprise that this winery is a Biodiversity award winner! They produce 70-80 different types of wines.  

 

 

Wines Tasted:

Golf 1927 Franciacorta Docg
Tasting Notes:  Nice mineral and floral notes with delicate notes of honey; elegant,
creamy and fresh – well-balanced

 Satèn Franciacorta DOCG Edition 2014
Note: name familiar to the word “silk”
Tasting Notes: Some nice citrus notes, with pressing minerality

Rosé Franciacorta DOCG 2013 Edition
Tasting Notes: Pinot Noir is transformed into hints of rose petals in the glass; The structure and balance of this wine are interwoven in a lingering tension between its rich flavor and acidity.

I had lunch at Agriturismo Corte Lantieri with a menu dedicated to Franciacorta Festival and the area’s traditional food.

Thereafter I went to Azienda Guido Berlucchi , a beautiful medieval-looking vineyard. Berlucchi has been producing certified organic wine since 2016. It took the winery about four years to fully convert to organic wine. And today, it is known as the largest producer of wine in the region I was happy to learn that the sparkling Berlucchi 61 Brut Franciacorta wine that I tried can be found at LCBO / Vintages (Ontario, Canada). 

http://www.lcbo.com/lcbo/product/berlucchi-61-brut-franciacorta/514323#.WsK1ErYrIWo

VINTAGES#: 514323 

Wines Tasted:

Palazzo Lana Saten (2008)
Tasting Notes: refined notes of apple and pear, with an appealing acidity and firm structure, along with delicious, crisp notes of fruit.

Berlucchi ‘61 Brut
Tasting Notes: fragrant notes, crisp with hints of apple and pear and citrus, with a long finish

Berlucchi ‘61 Saten
Note: 100% Chardonnay
Tasting Notes: hints of citrus fruit, some tangy acidity, full and firm structure

The last winery I visited was Azienda Agricola Mosnel which was located in the open and fresh area of Franciacorta where the grapes are exposed to a lot of breezes coming off of the alps. The grapes will ripen a week earlier here than other areas. In this vineyard, 20% pinot blanc is harvest more than other regions and wineries due to climate region.

If you are ever in the Franciacorta region, visit the vineyards mentioned and also check out the Franciacorta Festival September 2018.

Shadi Yazdan and Liz Palmer

 

 

 

Chef Interview:  Julien Asseo – Executive Chef Restaurant Guy Savoy Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Chef Julien Asseo –
Executive Chef Restaurant Guy Savoy Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Julien Asseo has achieved what most chefs can only dream of; throughout his career he has worked with renowned chefs Rick Moonen, Joel Robuchon, and Guy Savoy.

After a tour of the kitchen and Krug Chef’s Table (private dining), I chatted with Chef Asseo in the beautiful setting of his restaurant’s dining room.

Julien grew up in Libourne, France on his parents’ vineyard. He earned his bachelor’s degree in culinary arts at Lycée Hôtelier de Gascogne.  Shortly after, he moved to Paris to work at La Fontain de Mars as commis to eventually chef de partie. A number of years later he decided to move to Los Angeles and got a position as a sous chef at the Rivera. In 2009 he moved to Las Vegas to work under renowned chefs Rick Moonen and Joel Robuchon. Julien joined Restaurant Guy Savoy in 2011 as a sous chef, advancing to chef de cuisine, a number of years later, and is now hold the position as Executive Chef. He has never looked back.

Liz Palmer:     What influenced you to become a chef?

Julien Asseo: I loved to eat from a young age – I was always attracted to food.
Especially when my mom used to cook a big meal every day. I first realized when I was 15 years old; I followed my head and moved back to France (from California) and went to cooking school Lycée Hôtelier de Gascogne, Bordeaux. I never stopped my passion, right after I graduated I moved to Paris.

Liz Palmer:     Do you still have time to experiment?

Julien Asseo:  Yes, I’m currently working on a new idea that came from a childhood memory, sweet breads and milk skin (pairing these together).

I also love travelling and reading – I collect lots of books to learn and discover new things.

Liz Palmer:     What are the current restaurant trends in Las Vegas?

Julien Asseo: The big movement now is simplicity – going back to roots, like
heirloom vegetables. I also strive for the best food possible – the best ingredients.
I try to stay local – at least 90% of the vegetables are local.  The meat comes from Texas, the fish from the Atlantic.

You have to respect food especially the farmer and never underestimate a vegetable.

For me it’s more of a personal touch and being more honest in my cooking.

Liz Palmer:     Who have been your mentors?

Julien Asseo: It’s hard to say.  I worked for Rick Moonen and Joel Robuchon and learned a lot.  I last trained under Guy Savoy who most inspired me on my career. He’s a very good chef, in every aspect from pleasing guests, being the best host, to cooking.  I learned a lot from him on fine dining.

Liz Palmer:     Champagne and food Pairing – what are your favorites?

Julien Asseo: Champagne brut is best to drink with caviar from Iran (they are make the best pairing).  Also, crab, and other sea food that have briny flavors like oysters. Rose Champagne is best to drink when you eat octopus, meat and fish dishes, seafood that is robust and foods that have earthy flavors (meats and fish from the earth and sea).

Liz Palmer:     What’s next for you?

Julien Asseo: I’m going to work hard and get that third star (Michelin).  Michelin stopped coming in 2009 when we had two stars.  We hope they are coming back after nine years.

I would like to eventually go back to California and open a restaurant, in the countryside – close to the ocean and mountains with great farm great ingredients.  It will be under my name – it’s my dream.

Liz Palmer

Restaurant Guy Savoy
Caesars
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard S,
Las Vegas, NV

https://www.caesars.com

Krug Chef’s Table
Restaurant Guy Savoy Caesars Palace, Las Vegas

Guy Savoy, Las Vegas, Liz Palmer

 

Dom Pérignon Pop-Up at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat

Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, a Four Seasons Hotel, is celebrating summer in style with the launch of an exclusive Dom Pérignon Pop Up Bar in the Hotel’s lush garden.

Located in the hotel’s garden among the bougainvilleas, rosebays and hibiscus, the Dom Pérignon Pop Up Bar offers an ideal setting to enjoy a pre-dinner or post-dinner drink. The décor is themed after Dom Pérignon’s elegant black and gold colours in a chic and cosy spirit. Benches and chairs with comfortable cushions are set up in a lounge-styled atmosphere around a fountain while tables are lit by candles creating an utmost romantic feel. Guests can sip on Champagne and taste a selection of food pairings from Executive Chef Yoric Tièche while enjoying live music entertainment.

Two vintages will be poured: from P1 2006 and the P2 2000, both reflecting the exceptional savoir-faire of the brand. To pair with these exceptional vintages, Chef Yoric Tièche has created a selection of canapés combining Provençal flavours and sea influences.

The Dom Pérignon Pop-Up Bar is open from July 15 to September 16, 2017, every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6:30 pm, with live music atmosphere coming from the Grand-Hôtel’s terraces. No booking required.

• Glass of Dom Pérignon “P1” 2006: EUR 64 with food pairing
• Glass of Dom Pérignon “P2” 2000: EUR 78 with food pairing

To enhance their gastronomic experience, guests at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, may book the French Riviera Gourmet package including an aperitif at the Pop-Up Dom Pérignon Champagne Bar and a dinner at the Michelin-starred restaurant Le Cap. Reservations at + 33(0)4 93 76 50 50 or reservations.capferrat@fourseasons.com

http://www.fourseasons.com/capferrat/
https://www.domperignon.com/ww-en/

Liz Palmer is Guest Speaker at Charles Steven Trenholme’s Importing Wine, Beer, Spirit For Pleasure & Profit Seminar

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Liz Palmer attends Charles Steven Trenholme’s Importing Wine, Beer, Spirit for Pleasure & Profit Seminar on Saturday June 3th, 2017 (Toronto, Ontario as a guest speaker. Liz discusses her journey from wine journalist to award winning Author. She goes on to speak about her upcoming champagne workshops which are commencing this fall at The Fine Wine Reserve, and her wine Tourism company “Global Wine Holidays” with the first trips starting 2018 in to the Champagne Region, Cognac and Bordeaux.

About Liz Palmer
Liz Palmer is a well-respected wine journalist since 2004 and has an international reputation as a critic and judge. Liz has had the pleasure of interviewing and tasting with some of the industry’s leading winemakers, professors and personalities.

Liz Palmer’s articles have appeared in national and international magazines. She is one of four founding international hosts for #ChampagneDay 2011-2017; she has served as a judge for the 2013-2017 Global Traveler’s Wines on the Wing airline wine competition (New York); 2014-2017 Michelangelo International Wine Awards (South Africa) 2014-2017; and for The Stevie Awards for Women in Business (New York) (2014-2017).

Her Memberships include: Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada, Circle of Wine Writers (UK) – Circle Committee, International Federation of Wine and Spirits Journalists and Writers (FIJEV); Wine Century Club (NYC), and The Fine Wine Reserve.

2017 Awards:
Liz Palmer’s first book, “The Ultimate Guide To Champagne” has received the National Award for the best French Wine Book at the Gourmand World Awards 2017 and has been accepted for the 2017 Taste Canada Awards [Culinary Narratives Category] with winners being announced October 2017. On April 7th, 2017 she was awarded the title of “Dame Chevalier” of the Ordre de Coteaux de Champagne at an official ceremony in Paris.

About Steven Trenholme’s Importing Wine, Beer, Spirit For Pleasure & Profit Seminar 

MORNING SESSION
Where to find new and interesting wines, spirits and beers
How to start your own successful import agency
Determining the best strategy for new product development
How to negotiate with suppliers
Marketing channels – which are the best for you and your suppliers
Opportunities as a Consignment and/or Private Stock Agent
Employment opportunities in the beverage alcohol industry
A light lunch will be served.

AFTERNOON SESSION
How products are priced
Agent commissions and promotional allowances
Ordering samples
Dealing effectively with the LCBO
Selecting the right products for today’s market
How the LCBO selects products and how to increase your chance of success
Vintages – a lucrative market
Determining the best strategy for a new product launch
Working with LCBO wine consultants – how to find an sales support at store level
Working with the media
Other provincial markets: Privatization, Options & Opportunities

The Official #Champagne Experience Day – London