It is 3pm and I am in the Franciacorta tasting room at Vinitaly's Palaexpo Lombardia where Jouska Biondelli is about to present the new vintages to the press. I am already familiar with this Franciacorta company that was founded just 7 years ago, and I am very curious to hear how the products have evolved over the past year. The event again this year is called 'Be Italian', and is organised by the talented Claudia Bondi of Perle & Perlage for the Franciacorta Biondelli winery. Our guest is also the oenologist Cesare Ferrari, defined as one of the fathers of Franciacorta, who accompanies Joska and Claudia in the tasting, telling us about the weather in Franciacorta in the various vintages.
The Biondelli family estate is located in Bornato, an ancient village in the heart of Franciacorta with a splendid castle that I recommend you see if you visit the winery. The farm includes several pieces of land and a farmstead, purchased at the end of World War II by Giuseppe Biondelli, the future Italian Ambassador and then Consul General in Innsbruck, Austria. Today, the old estate is a modern company certified organic and equipped with the most advanced oenological technologies. The winery has made 3 choices that in Franciacorta I consider all but taken for granted: 100% Chardonnay, little sugar and only steel. The result? Better and better every year, especially when you consider that this is a young Franciacorta winery that was only founded in 2010.
For this presentation reserved for the press, the Franciacorta Brut D.O.C.G. 2014, the Franciacorta Satén D.O.C.G. 2013 and the Franciacorta D.O.C.G. Millesimato 'Premiére Dame' 2011 will be on tasting.
Franciacorta Brut 2014
Made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes from the estate's own vineyards and the result of a very difficult year in Franciacorta. The vintage was extremely cool and with very little sun. A lot of fungus developed and attacked the plants. The ripening of the grapes was very slow, at times difficult. The selection of the best bunches of grapes for this was crucial, and the harvest took place in two stages: first the bad bunches were thrown to the ground, then the best bunches selected were picked again. The grapes were pressed less than two hours after the harvest and the must was composed of the first and second pressing. In the same year, the company stopped using a refined sugar such as sucrose in favour of using the more natural grape sugar.
Tasting - The product is young, disgorged as recently as November 2016 and, in my opinion, still needs a few more months in the bottle, although the use of even the second pressing makes it easy to drink right from the start. The residual sugar is so low that it could be considered a Brut Nature, but for a market choice this wine is considered Brut. The colour is beautiful: intense straw yellow with golden reflections. The perlage is fine, continuous and persistent. The nose has notes of cedar and white peach, with a hint of cinnamon. After a few minutes, notes of white pepper emerge, which blend into the iodine finish. I agree with Claudia Bondi's analysis of the aromas, and add a note of sage and graphite on the finish. In the mouth, it is very fresh, savoury, with a nice crisp bubble and a fairly long finish.
Franciacorta Satén 2013
This type of Franciacorta is the child of a market choice that was necessary in the 1990s to obtain a softer product capable of conquering the tables of Italians, at a time when they were occupied only by still wines and bubbles were uncorked almost only to celebrate special occasions. Franciacorta Satén, thanks to less atmosphere and a greater use of sugar, at least in the average Franciacorta production, positioned itself as a borderline product, somewhere between still and sparkling wines. The higher sugar content responded to the female taste of the time, which favoured wines with more dosage. This taste has (fortunately) changed in the last 10 years, probably with the spread of wine culture, at the time considered more of a male prerogative. In this Franciacorta Satén, made from Chardonnay 100% grapes harvested in the estate's own vineyards, there are only first-pressing musts.
Tasting - The colour is always very beautiful, an intense and brilliant golden yellow. The perlage is numerous and very fine. This wine has a wonderful nose, I agree with the dried chamomile mentioned by Claudia and the spices, whose pepper here becomes a Seirawaka gold. In the mouth it enters vertical and firm, widening after a few seconds, the bubble is a little less crisp and the flavour oscillates between yellow peach and hazelnut. With less atmosphere, a lower concentration of sugars (2 grams/litre) and at least 24 months of ageing on the lees (in Franciacorta the average for Satén is 7/8 g/l of sugar), it is a wine of a truly pleasant softness that does not renounce a lovely freshness.
Franciacorta Millesimato 'Premiére Dame' 2011
2011 was an exceptional year for Franciacorta: the result is a wine with great acidity that guarantees beautiful longevity. Obviously, in order to have the maximum expression of the vintage, a non-dosed wine such as this must be preferred, and indeed Brut Nature has always been the most popular among wine professionals and connoisseurs. Chardonnay 100%, 60 months of ageing on the lees: it is the evolution of evolution.
Tasting - Outstanding and has made incredible growth compared to the 2010 vintage. A beautiful intense straw yellow with golden highlights. Brilliant. The nose enchants with its intensity and complexity: honey, pastry, biscuit, sweet liquorice, avocado, quince, vanilla, candied citron. In the mouth, it is crisp and intense, only to soften after a few seconds. The flavour is balsamic and mineral, with an aftertaste of medicinal herbs and ripe peaches. Definitely one of the best wines I tasted at this Vinitaly!
After these tastings I want to make a personal observation: Cantina Biondelli has really grown up a lot. I have been following it for about a couple of years, and the wines of two years ago, although I had already found them very very interesting, were not even the little brothers of those of today. The growth of Biondelli's Franciacorta has been extraordinary. The aromas gradually became more precise and were enriched with new tones. La Premiére Dame 2010 I liked it a lot, but nothing like the quality of the new 2011 vintage, which I find exceptional.
Congratulations to Jouska Biondelli and Cesare Ferrari for not stopping at a good level and for chasing excellence, achieving a result beyond all expectations. And congratulations to Claudia Bondi of Perle & Perlage for her elegance and her always precise and punctual work.
I recommend you go and taste the Satén 2013 and Premiere Dame 2011 at Biondelli in PalaExpo, stand B17.
If you would like to read some other articles I have written about this winery, here are the links:
- Looking for a classic method sparkling wine? Try Biondelli's Franciacorta!
- Biondelli presents Premiére Dame organic Franciacorta at Expo
See you soon 🙂
P.S. Special thanks to my technical sponsor Universo Foto for the Sony RX100M4 with which all the photos in this article were taken!