Last Saturday, during the Autumn Franciacorta Festival, I went to the presentation of the new Millesimato by Berlucchi combined with the three starred finger foods of the Chef Stefano Cerveni of the Restaurant Due Colombe in Borgonato di Corte Franca1 star in the Michelin Guide. I spent a wonderful Saturday, in an environment full of memories... in fact, like every sommelier, I too have been to Berlucchi for the graduation ceremony. It was last 27 November... at a time in my life when I was particularly happy. If you like, read the article about my graduation 'Finally Sommelier' HERE.

Before we begin, I want to thank the Sony Italy press office once again for providing me with the wonderful RX100M4, a compact camera with a photographic quality you don't expect and which I chose because it is perfect for taking photos in low light environments such as wine cellars. Perfect for me in short! 

And now, welcome to Guido Berlucchi's Franciacorta Festival!

guido berlucchi franciacorta

The arrival at Guido Berlucchi

The event started at 11:30, but of course I didn't manage to arrive on time because a nice guy thought he'd park behind my car and then go for a ride to the market in Lovere and I had to wait more than 20 minutes. I know, I have too much patience... but next time I'll call the tow truck!!! At least karma loved me and I managed to park right in front of the entrance 😉
When I arrived, I was accompanied by Francesca's group, who had just started telling the story of Guido Berlucchi in its historical cellars.
guido berlucchi historical cellars

The historic Berlucchi cellars

Dug 10 metres underground at the end of the 17th century, Guido Berlucchi's historic cellars have an extraordinary charm for me. Everything is neat, beautiful and evocative. From the wooden pupitres where the remuage of the Franciacorta Riservas take place, to the moulds on the walls, to the niche where the last bottle of the first Franciacorta, vintage 1961, is kept.

guido berlucchi historical cellars franciacorta

These historic cellars are immense, and it is really nice to walk in them. I would probably walk the famous 10,000 steps a day if I could walk them every day! 😉

One thing I have never done is taste Franciacorta straight from the barrels... here, I must remedy that sooner or later!

This part of the cellar, close to the area where Berlucchi shows a film of disgorgement, is the one I like best! This area holds the historical archive of Guido Berlucchi, with the tipped bottles of the most significant vintages, preserved to assess their evolution over time. Ah, what I would give to be able to make this assessment too!!! 😀

guido berlucchi franciacorta wine cellar

I love my house, my lake... but this could also be my ideal office! All I need is a barrel for a coffee table, internet connection, my sacred stokke varier chair, a sketchbook, a soft pencil and my computer! And it's also cool all year round... Well of course I also need a tasting glass! Joking aside, it is a truly wonderful environment and I recommend all wine lovers to visit it at least once in their lives!

guido berlucchi historical cellars franciacorta

Once the visit was over, we moved to the garden, where Arturo Ziliani had just begun to tell us about the new Brut Nature Millesimato 2009. I was really curious to hear how this new product was born in the Berlucchi house, and I was equally curious to try it with Chef Stefano Cerveni's starred fingerfoods. Arturo Ziliani is a perfect speaker and it is always very pleasant to listen to him. I think we were about fifty people listening to him full of expectation! The talk soon moved to the porch, where an aperitif of cold meats, cheeses and the first glasses of bubbly were waiting for us.

guido berlucchi franciacorta garden

The Purple Potato, Gambero Rosso and Franciacorta (2008, revised in 2016)

Chef Stefano Cerveni told me that this is the dish that made him famous, and I have no difficulty believing it. The purple potato is intriguing and fascinating by nature, and here it is worked to perfection. The mashed purple potato is not greasy at all and really tastes like a purple potato. It has the consistency of a mousse, only firmer. The shrimp is raw, seasoned only with a drizzle of delicate oil. The Franciacorta is reduced to a butter to be degreased with bubbly. The crunchy note is provided by the purple potatoes on top of the raw prawn. A well-balanced dish, which I would be pleased to taste at my leisure in order to savour every nuance. The pairing with the Berlucchi '61 Brut Nature Millesimato 2009? Perfect.

guido berlucchi franciacorta stefano cerveni

Baked tench 2016

In my opinion the most interesting fingerfood of all. Tench is a fish from our Lake Iseo that is very popular in these areas, to sin a bit of fatness and heaviness. This reworking I found ingenious and perfect. The tench filling becomes the crispy outer 'crust'. The fish becomes the creamy filling. Maybe I am wrong, but I thought I smelt a citrus note. The Maldon salt completes the dish and counteracts the tench's sweet tendency. The idea of serving it in three pieces was beautiful. The pairing with Franciacorta Berlucchi '61 Brut Nature Millesimato 2009? Perfect, because it degreases a tench that in itself is not at all fatty (the butter is there and you can feel it, but as Chef Stefano Cerveni confirmed to me, it is in a very small quantity), but it has a hint of butter that goes well with this Franciacorta. Moreover, its being complex but not particularly intense makes it perfect for not overwhelming a dish that is also very delicate.

guido berlucchi chef cervini
Here is another view in which to appreciate Chef Stefano Cerveni's talent for dish presentation.
chef stefano cerveni two doves

Chicken salad from Franciacorta

Delicious! I really love this cuisine that doesn't throw anything away, apart from the bones of course! Everything from the meat to the skin is used here. The meat is firm, because the chicken has been free and happy until its last day of life. One must never forget that chicken meat that is too tender is an indication of a chicken of mediocre quality. The chicken is boiled in broth, and remains very tasty. Chlorophyll jelly adds a note of freshness. The green sauce is well balanced. The pairing with Franciacorta Berlucchi '61 Brut Nature Millesimato 2009? Interesting! Certainly this fingerfood is not its optimal pairing. Too tasty the food, too delicate the wine. Pleasant overall, the creamy, persistent bubbles cleanse the mouth perfectly.

guido berlucchi stefano cerveni
And here is another view of this delicious fingerfood!
chef stefano cerveni two doves

Once the presentation is over, the visit to Palazzo Lana begins, the place where back in 1955 the young and volcanic wine expert Franco Ziliani met a shy country gentleman playing his beloved piano, Guido Berlucchi. An encounter capable of changing the destiny of a territory, and beyond taste, ideas and convictions, an encounter to always be a grateful spectator. For me, who have chosen to live in this land, whose elegance, culture and manners I love, but above all whose wines, whose best expressions have nothing to envy from Champagne, it is an encounter that has brought me here. At least at this time in my life. We will soon see where my heart will take me.

Palazzo Lana Berlucchi was built in the 16th century on pre-existing medieval structures by the Lana de' Terzi family, a noble family of Bergamo origins from which Guido Berlucchi descended.

guido berlucchi palazzo lana

Pompous is the living room, with a large fireplace and many frescoes. But the room I like best is the veranda overlooking the beautiful garden. First of all, I like the large outdoor windows, but it is the antique piano that attracts my attention the most. As much as I love minimalist and modern furniture, Palazzo Lana is a concentration of ancient beauty.


This room is really beautiful... partly because I like playing pool (although I'm not particularly good at it), partly because I really like the chandeliers on the table and the scales on the sides.

guido berlucchi palazzo lana berlucchi
After the billiard room you come to another well-kept room, which was the first time I had seen it.
palazzo lana berlucchi borgonato

The most beautiful room in Palazzo Lana Berlucchi for me is the kitchen! I would only remove the tablecloth and leave the bare wooden table, which I find more elegant. I love the chandelier on the walls, the hanging pans, the fireplace. I also love the red slicer *_* I want an identical one in the house at some point!

guido berlucchi palazzo lana kitchen

Berlucchi '61 Brut Nature 2009 Franciacorta DOCG Millesimato

Now I want to say a few words about the Franciacorta DOCG Brut Nature 2009, actually the real star of this wonderful day. It is the result of a blend of two grape varieties, Chardonnay (80%) and Pinot Noir (20%), from the estate's own vineyards Arzelle, Rovere, San Carlo and Ragnoli; all with a high planting density (10,000 vines/hectare). Harvesting takes place in the second ten days of August, in our case we tasted the 2009 vintage. 7,500 kg of grapes per hectare are produced, with a must yield of 36% equivalent to 3,600 bottles per hectare. After the soft and progressive pressing of the grapes with splitting of the must, alcoholic fermentation takes place in steel vats and then the best parcels are refined in oak barriques, where they mature for 6 months in contact with the yeasts. The preparation of the cuvée takes place in the spring following the harvest, exclusively with the 100% from wines of the vintage (this is a vintage). After the second fermentation in the bottle, it then matures on the lees for at least 5 years, followed by a further 6 months after disgorgement. Being a brut nature, it is obviously unmetered.

I found it to be a beautiful, bright, intense golden yellow, with abundant, creamy mousse, a very light rim and a fine, persistent perlage. On the nose it is delicate and complex, where mineral, citrus, white-fleshed fruit and aromatic herbs merge into an elegant hint of bread crust. In the mouth, the marked acidity is supported by an important structure and excellent persistence and finesse. Very balanced, I found it perfect for a fingerfood by Chef Stefano Cerveni in particular, tench. The creaminess and sweetness of the tench contrasted with the freshness and slight saltiness of the Berlucchi '61 Nature 2009 I found a wonderful combination.

The Franciacorta '61 Brut Nature 2009 is a perfect concentrate of balance, where softness and hardness blur against each other in a whole that is never too aggressive or intense, but always very present.

guido berlucchi brut nature millesimato

And finally the last photo, which visibly was not taken with my beloved Sony RX100M4 and it shows! For goodness sake, the iPhone 6 takes beautiful photos for a smartphone, but the quality of the camera is something else entirely... so thanks again to Sony for allowing me to take this beautiful report with the RX100M4!

The last photo is an honour for me: being in the company of Franco Ziliani, the father of Franciacorta, certainly doesn't happen every day! As bright and youthful as a young boy, talking to him doesn't make him look at all 85 years old! I met him in the courtyard, while he was pairing a slice of salami with his Franciacorta. Very kind and easy-going, he told us about his Franciacorta with a passion and dedication that really impressed me.

And rightly so, he made an observation: I don't mind sommeliers of any faction, but a wine either likes it or it doesn't. "What does your wine taste like, Ziliani?" The answer baffles: "The accolades? Bullshit. My wine tastes like Franciacorta!"

And how can you blame him? Franciacorta invented it.

I really liked it.

guido berlucchi franco ziliani chiara bassi

A final thank you to dear Francesca for inviting me and for conducting this wonderful guided tour: punctual, fast and never boring despite the fact that it was the third time I had visited the winery. It must be said that Guido Berlucchi's historic cellars are so beautiful and full of history that they never get tired.

Ah, during this year I wrote other articles on Guido Berlucchi:

And have you been to the Franciacorta Festival? Which wine cellars did you visit?  ???

See you soon,

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