More Bubbles! Sparking Wine Part 2
by Daniel Brashi (Curator)
Franciacorta - What is it? A place. A place that makes wine in a very special way. In fact, those “in the know” might say “Franciacorta is under the radar”. A statement that indicates something never got popular.
In the case of all bubbles though, remember colder wines produce less bubbles
What we need to know is that Franciacorta makes some delicious bubbles and while the method is Champagne-like, the wine is different. As it should be, because it doesn’t come from Champagne.
Often made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, sometimes a little Pinot Blanc.
- NV-released no earlier than 25 months after harvest with minimum of 18 months on lees.
- Saten-Blanc de blancs with a minimum of 50% Chardonnay with the remaining Pinot Blanc. 5 atmosphere for gentler bubble. At least 24 months on lees.
- Rose-At least 25% Pinot Noir with minimum 24 months on lees.
- Millesimato-Single vintage, minimum 30 months on lees and cannot be released until at least 37 months after harvest.
- Riserva-The Zenith! 60 months age on lees.
In short, Franciacorta is as strict and focused on quality as Champagne with unique law that make the wine distinctly Italian.
Here are a couple of Franciacorta's we carry in the store.
Pet-Nat - This is not easy. It can be made anywhere and from any grape. There is also no ‘color’ to Pet-Nat. It can be rose, white, red or orange. It is the original. It is the punk bubble. Bugey Cerdon and Limoux are the East Village and Oxford Street of Pet-Nat. These places may be considered Pet-Nat’s origin story.
What Petillant Natural skips is a secondary fermentation aided by sugar and yeast. Initial fermentation completes, in the bottle, without any additives, trapping a natural carbon dioxide. That means sugar levels vary, as does alcohol level.
Methode Ancestral - Is it different? Well, depends on who you ask. Some argue it has to do with fermentation times, others make mention of enclosures.
*** What remains is that both styles pay tribute to terroir and honest winemaking. That is not to say Champagne can’t be honest or reflective. But it tends to reflect a signature, wherein the ink is a varietal or blend/house style. A more manipulated product.
Bubbles can simply be manufactured! Shocker. We like something and so we make things that resemble that thing we like. The short of it is, we can force bubbles into wine. It does not always happen spontaneously. Not always a terrible thing, just a truth.
In the case of all bubbles though, remember colder wines produce less bubbles. Wine up to temperature produce more bubbles. Wines that are too hot will produce too many bubbles. If you want room temperature Champagne please wear goggles and aim away from your face.
Below are some great Pet-Nat and Methode ancestral wines that we carry in-store.
Oh the royalty of bubbles! If not the first, the master. Nevermind the medical waste. The law: Grapes must be Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Arbane (good luck), and Petit Meslier. Most non vintages are made with a blend of the first three but in varying percentages. Simply, Champagne is totally driven by house style. Outside of the big ones Veuve Clicquot, Moet, Jouet, Laurent Perrier, one finds the little growers. These farmers base their blends on what they grow. Some houses are heavy in Pinot Meunier which creates a fuller and spicier wine with more palate presence but less lasting power. Most wines heavy in Meunier are not designed to be aged for decades. Chardonnay based houses and especially wines that are 100% are ripping with acidity. Lean and precise with tons of bright unbridled fruit. Wines for now, but also happy with time for rest.
We often pop corks to celebrate things but bubbles are actually the best wines for anything with fat. That means cheese and nuts to potato chips and popcorn. Salt and fat are the best pairs for sparkling wines because of acid and bubbles. But also, because of varying levels of sugar sparkling wines are the best pair for spice. Tear the walls down!
Here are some great champagne options in the store. Happy holidays and we'll see you for sparkling wine!