Friday, May 27, 2011

Franciacorta with Caviar - An Italian Alternative to Champagne

Franciacorta Wine is a sparkling wine from Northern Italy, produced in the region of Lombardy. Franciacorta is similar to Champagne, it's defining characteristic is the classical blend of Pinot Nero (10%), Pinot Bianco (5%), and Chardonnay (85%) grapes.


Aging takes anywhere from 17 to 30 months, with the latter being designated "vintage". After aging, Franciacorta is usually held for an additional 5-8 months before release and ultimately consumption. This results in a lighter taste than Champagne, however the youth of the Franciacorta provides for a rather rounded and complex style.



There are multiple types of Franciacorta, as one can imagine, including varieties specifically designed to rival their French neighbors (Champagne) which do away with Pinot Nero completely, leaving only Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco as the comprising grapes - this type of Franciacorta is commonly referred to as Franciacorta Saten.


Another notable characteristic of Franciacorta is it's dryness. Like Champagne, the dryness of Franciacorta serves as a perfect pairing with caviar. The salty overtones of caviar blend well with the dryness of wines such as Champagne and Franciacorta.


So next time you want to have some "bubbly" with your caviar, try out Franciacorta instead of Champagne. Like Champagne, Franciacorta also has labellings of "brut", "sec", and "extra sec" or "extra brut" - all of which mean dry or extra dry. I have tried both, but prefer "extra brut" when pairing Franciacorta with Caviar. The dryness of the wine does an excellent job of cleaning the palette before your next tasting of caviar. Which works great when sampling multiple types of caviar!


And lastly, since Franciacorta is not as well known (yet) as Champagne, you can usually find it for a fraction of the price when compared to Champagne. Meaning $15 to $25 buys you a good quality Franciacorta. So live a little, and enjoy a lot!

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