Barone Pizzini Blanc de Blanc Golf 1927
Franciacorta is marked by a long and deep sense of place. It references both a place of origin in name (Franciacorta is Italy’s first sparkling DOCG) and a method of production, metodo classico, where second fermentation occurs in bottle. The hills surrounding Lake Iseo form a glacial amphitheater, and it is here where the bubbly wines of Franciacorta were widely prized and consumed as early as the 13th century. Since 1870, Barone Pizzini has captured the area’s long cultural significance to help shape both Franciacorta’s legacy and contemporary character. The winery is a keen observer of their land, developing thoughtful farming models that have propelled the estate at the vanguard of their region.
At its core importance, Barone Pizzini places its trust in nature first. Silvano Brescianini, the winemaker (and Managing Partner), took over winemaking responsibilities in 1994. For Brescianini, vines and wines here are borne out of a central theme: natural farming and transparency of place. The goal of low intervention results in wines defined less by artifice and more by location. Barone Pizzini allows for the narrative of events during the growing season to be observed rather than act as agents of nature.
Conventional methods are notably eschewed. Farming practices adhere to natural models that use organic matter to sustain fertility in the soil and natural elements to control parasites. Sensitivity begins with the health of the soil, and extends throughout the entire narrative of events in defense of transparency of the terroir. Partial malolactic fermentation (less than 5%) is allowed for Animante and Sàten. Barrel ferments are employed in the cellar for most of the wines, as well as barrique-aging for the resulting base wine prior to second fermentation. One can sense that respect for classically styled Franciacorta is honored during each phase of the labor-intensive process.
Containing an exciting mix of wine producing subregions, Lombardy is Italy’s largest in size and population. Good quality Pinot noir, Bonarda and Barbera have elevated the reputation of the plains of Oltrepò Pavese. To its northeast in the Alps, Valtellina is the source of Italy’s best Nebbiolo wines outside of Piedmont. Often missed in the shadow of Prosecco, Franciacorta produces collectively Italy’s best Champagne style wines, and for the fun and less serious bubbly, find Lambrusco Mantovano around the city of Mantua. Lugana, a dry white with a devoted following, is produced to the southwest of Lake Garda.
A term typically reserved for Champagne and Sparkling Wines, non-vintage or simply “NV” on a label indicates a blend of finished wines from different vintages (years of harvest). To make non-vintage Champagne, typically the current year’s harvest (in other words, the current vintage) forms the base of the blend. Finished wines from previous years, called “vins de reserve” are blended in at approximately 10-50% of the total volume in order to achieve the flavor, complexity, body and acidity for the desired house style. A tiny proportion of Champagnes are made from a single vintage.
There are also some very large production still wines that may not claim one particular vintage. This would be at the discretion of the winemaker’s goals for character of the final wine.