Andrea Rudelli, Domenico “Nico” Danesi, and Giovanni Arcari (my bromance) call it Solo Uva (just grapes): they freeze and reserve some of the grape must after pressing and then they use it as the sugar in both the tirage (i.e., the addition of sugar and yeast to the base wine in order to provoke the second fermentation) and the dosage (i.e., the addition of sugar before bottling to achieve the desired balance of acidity and sweetness).
The resulting wines have no cane sugar added to them (the traditional practice for classic method and Champagne method wines).
But the thing that really sets the wine apart as a new category of classic method Franciacorta is the fact that they allow the grapes to achieve full phenolic ripeness before harvesting. Where some sparkling winemakers pick early in order to obtain higher acidity (notably in Champagne and also in Franciacorta), this trio of winemakers lets the grapes ripen fully. As a result, the wines have a markedly rich (and arguably richer) fruit profile and a more vinous quality.
It’s a new and perhaps revolutionary approach to Franciacorta and sparkling wine.
And one of the coolest things about what they’re doing is that they have shared their technique openly with their peers and colleagues at home. They believe that this new method represents the future for their appellation and they liberally reveal the process to anyone who’s interested to find out more.
At Vinitaly in April, I tasted another Franciacorta made using this method (by Vezzoli) and a Barbera rosé (by Barolo producer Principiano). Both were wonderful.
Because they don’t adjust for sweetness using an extraneous sweetener, the wines have unusual depth and character. Not better, but different from conventional classic and Champagne method wines.
I’ve found the wines to be truly compelling.
They landed last night at Bush and I took them directly for margaritas and Tex Mex at one of our favorite Houston restaurants, La Mexicana.
Today, I’m taking them to see some Texas sights and hear some Texas music before we head to California for a short business trip in wine country and a stop in LA at Sotto on Thursday night.
I’ll be posting on our adventures as time permits. Stay tuned!