Above: we poured twenty-two expressions of Franciacorta from eleven wineries yesterday in Houston (photo by David Keck, co-owner of Camerata, Houston’s coolest wine bar, and co-founder of the amazing Houston Sommelier Association).
Last year, in the days that followed Vinitaly (the annual Italian wine trade fair held in Verona), I met up with Franciacorta consortium president Maurizio Zanella for a chat and tasting at his Ca’ del Bosco winery.
We had just tasted though an extraordinary flight of his wines when he asked me a question that took me entirely by surprise.
“What do you think is the best way to market Franciacorta in the U.S.?” he asked (he speaks impeccable English).
Wow, I thought to myself, here’s the guy who singlehandedly built the Franciacorta “brand” in the U.S. and one of the most revered and powerful winemakers in the world. And he’s asking me for my opinion.
I took a deep breath and told him the truth.
“The problem,” I said, “is that Franciacorta has always been positioned as the step-sister of Champagne.” (See my post “Franciacorta and the ‘C’ word” from last summer.)
“Unfortunately,” I explained, “samples are sent to editors at high-profile mastheads who don’t normally write about wine. And when they finally wrap their minds around Franciacorta they invariably call it ‘Italy’s answer to Champagne.'”
“If I were asked to work on a Franciacorta campaign,” I said (and at this point, I could feel a bead of sweat roll down my temple), “I would reach out to the growing number of U.S. wine professionals who are thirsty for Franciacorta knowledge and who have the technical preparation to understand the uniqueness of these wines. They are the ones who work on the front lines of wine education every day and they are the ones that can turn perceptions around. I’d create a blog especially for them and I’d organize ’round-table’ tastings where they could share their impressions of Franciacorta wines.”
In November of last year, I met with Maurizio at the offices of the Franciacorta consortium in Erbusco in the heart of the appellation. And he and his team gave me the go-ahead to launch my “Franciacorta, the Real Story” campaign.
For the next eleven months, I’ll be blogging about Franciacorta regularly and leading a series of tastings for wine professionals across the U.S.
But most importantly, if you’d like to host a tasting, if you’d like to contribute to the blog or if you’d simply like to learn more about Franciacorta, please send me an email by clicking here.
I truly love Franciacorta and I am extremely excited about this new project. You can check out notes from yesterday’s tasting here.
And I’m currently working on doing a mini-version of the same tasting in Austin later this month (stay tuned for details).