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 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 214, February 2022   
Contrasts of Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de BlancsContrasts of Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de Blancs Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 213, January 2022 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 215, March 2022

Contrasts of Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de Blancs

Only white berried grapes. This is the only common characteristic in the two wines of this month's tasting by contrast. Two primary representatives of Italian and French enology.

 The world of sparkling wines, undeniably, always arouses a particular interest from most of wine lovers. The joyful sparkling bubbles that dancing in the glasses – since the time when sparkling wines had been started to be produced with the classic method – have always had a particular charm. Wines protagonists of the most significant celebrations, the uncorking of a bottle of sparkling wine always represents the highest moment of a meeting or banquet. This role, historically recognized to sparkling wines, has undeniably represented, so to speak, an enormous limitation, as – in general terms – it represents the main cause of its limited consumption. Relegated to parties and anniversaries, at the end of important banquets – sometimes served as apéritif – sparkling wines see their greatest success and consumption on the occasion of the main holidays of the year. A trend that, fortunately, has been changing in recent years and their consumption – finally – is also considered in the pairing of an entire meal.

 The world of sparkling wines, however, has always been capable of offering a wide choice of styles, undeniably suitable for food pairing, from apéritifs to desserts. In some cases, even for meditation. The two leading sparkling wine producing countries in the world – France and Italy – can, on their own, offer a wide choice of styles and production methods, certainly perfect for pairing with a vast amount of dishes and foods. Franciacorta and Champagne, in particular, are produced in a rich and vast choice of styles, including those made from white grape varieties only. In fact, this month's tasting by contrast will examine two bottles belonging to this category, although the composition of the grapes and the enological characteristics differ in certain aspects. In addition to this – of course – these are two production areas characterized by very different environmental and climatic conditions, a factor that significantly affects the final result, even when the production makes use of the same grapes.

 

Franciacorta Satèn


 

 Among the primary wine-growing areas of Italy committed to the production of sparkling wines with the classic method, Franciacorta has built over time an image and a solid reputation recognized worldwide. A result achieved thanks to the search for quality – proved with facts and with their wines – and the establishment of a winning model of collective representation which involved local producers. The relationship of Franciacorta with effervescent wines is decidedly long as well as documented, however the creation of the enological model we know today – of wines produced with the classic method of the refermentation in bottle – dates back to the early 1960s. In that period, the supremacy of Champagne was undisputed, a historically important position and which for centuries has been the reference model for sparkling wines refermented in bottle. The same can be said for the grapes that were used everywhere in the world for the production of this style of wines, with the aim of emulating the success of Champagne.

 The varieties used for the production of the many styles of Franciacorta are in fact Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, grapes notoriously of French origin, more specifically, from Burgundy, not far from Champagne. These are in fact varieties which are allowed for the production of the famous French wine. Of these, Pinot Blanc – which today represents a decidedly marginal percentage in Champagne – is actually a significant variety in Franciacorta, capable of giving the wines of this territory an extraordinary personality. A style characterizing Franciacorta is undeniably the Satèn, a wine providing for the exclusive use of white grape varieties, specifically at least 50% of Chardonnay and the remaining part of Pinot Blanc. Moreover, compared to the other styles of Franciacorta, Satèn is produced exclusively in the brut style and the refermentation pressure inside the bottle must be less than 5 atmospheres. The result is a wine having a unique character, with a velvety and creamy taste profile, qualities that are at the origin of its name, ideally “soft as silk”. Finally, according to the production disciplinary, Franciacorta Satèn provides for a minimum period of 24 months of refermentation and bottle aging in its own yeasts, a period set to 60 months for the Riserva style.

 

Champagne Blanc de Blancs

 Champagne wines have a very long and very successful history all over the world. The bubbles of these famous wines represent a solid and historical commercial success, started in the second half of 1600 when in the Benedictine abbey of Hautvillers – thanks to the work of the famous monk Dom Pierre Pérignon – and the history of modern Champagne began. Contrary to popular belief, the famous French monk did not invent the method of the refermentation in bottle. In fact, there are several proofs and documents proving the existence and use of this technique in periods decidedly prior to the era of Dom Pérignon, not least, in use in Benedictine convents in Italy, order to which the famous French monk belonged. In this regard, we can mention at least two cases of citations prior to 1650: the book written by doctor Gerolamo Conforti from Brescia, entitled “Libellus de Vino Mordaci” – (Booklet about sparkling wines) published in 1570 – and the one of doctor Francesco Scacchi from Fabriano who in 1622 published his “De Salubri Potu Dissertatio” (Dissertation on healthy drinking).

 Origins and merits aside, Champagne wines are still today among the sparkling wines produced with the refermentation in bottle method to have the greatest success worldwide. A success – without a shadow of a doubt – determined both by the undeniable quality and by the very particular environmental and climatic conditions that make Champagne a unique wine land of its kind. The famous sparkling wines of this area are mainly produced with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, however the production disciplinary also provides for the use of Arbanne, Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris grape varieties. In this regard, it should be noted that these last four varieties now represent a minimal and marginal percentage – less than 0.3% of the total – and almost all Champagne is produced with the first three varieties. The wine we will examine for our tasting by contrast belongs to the Blanc de Blancs style, that is exclusively produced with white berried grapes, therefore – by considering the current viticultural situation of Champagne – exclusively produced with Chardonnay. Finally, it should be noted that, according to the production disciplinary, non-vintage Champagne – the so-called sans année – requires a minimum period of refermentation in bottle and subsequent aging on its lees for at least 15 months, a period set at 3 years for the vintage ones.

 

The Tasting


The
Color of Champagne Blanc de Blancs
The Color of Champagne Blanc de Blancs

 Before pouring the wines of our tasting by contrast into the glasses, we will search for the two bottles we are going to examine. Given the huge popularity of these wines, the search will not be difficult as both Franciacorta and Champagne are widely available on the shelves of wine shops. Although they can be easily found, we will however have to make sure they belong to the styles we will examine in our tasting. We therefore make sure Franciacorta belongs to the Satèn style and the Champagne to Blanc de Blancs. As for Franciacorta, the choice is simple as the name of the style is always shown on the label, while for Champagne the belonging to the Blanc de Blancs style is not always indicated. In this case, we need to specifically know the bottle before buying it. As far as the composition of the grapes is concerned, the Franciacorta Satèn we will choose must be mainly produced with Chardonnay – about 75% – and the remaining part of Pinot Blanc. As for Champagne Blanc de Blancs, although the disciplinary provides for the use of five white berried grapes, we will have the certainty our bottle is produced with Chardonnay only, given its popularity. The wines we will pour into our tasting glasses – at a temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) – must be “non vintage”, therefore belonging to the so-called sans année category.

 Let's pour the Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de Blancs into the glasses and start this month's tasting by contrast. The first wine we will examine is Franciacorta Satèn and, by holding the glass in vertical position, we evaluate the quality of the effervescence of the wine, in particular the development and size of the bubbles, the so-called perlage. The size of the bubbles is very small, with a continuous and persistent development towards the surface. The crown – the thin ring of froth that forms on the surface around the walls of the glass – has fine, small and creamy bubbles. Let's tilt the glass over a white surface and, by observing the base, we evaluate the color. Franciacorta Satèn shows a brilliant straw yellow and high transparency. The nuance, observed at the edge of the wine, towards the opening of the glass, shows a greenish yellow color. Let's now pass to the evaluation of the appearance of Champagne Blanc de Blancs and, by holding the glass in vertical position, we observe the development of the perlage. Also in this case the size of the bubbles is very small and the development towards the surface of the glass is continuous and persistent. The crown, observed from the top of the glass, is consistent and with small bubbles. The color of Champagne Blanc de Blancs is bright straw yellow and, like the previous wine, with a high transparency. The nuance is intense straw yellow, decidedly darker than Franciacorta Satèn.

 The characteristic of being produced with the method of the refermentation in bottle and the use of white berried grapes – in particular, Chardonnay – could suggest these wines share similar olfactory qualities. Indeed, Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de Blancs express very different olfactory profiles on the nose. In fact, there are many elements influencing the organoleptic result of sparkling wines and which must be considered, as well as the differences in the composition of the soil, the environmental factors and climatic conditions of the respective territories. In particular, when evaluating sparkling wines – especially those produced with the classic method, that is the refermentation in bottle – we must consider the remarkable impact of man, specifically the particular wine making practices typical of the production of sparkling wines. Two of these factors, capable of significantly altering the organoleptic profile of these wines, are the liqueur de tirage and liqueur d'expedition. These two blends, respectively added before the refermentation in bottle and after disgorgement, represent in all respects a specific and, so to speak, secret “recipe” of each producer. They are, to all intents and purposes, identification trademarks and which distinguish the wines of each producer.

 Let's continue the tasting by contrast and proceed with the evaluation of the olfactory profiles of the two wines, starting – as in the previous phase – from Franciacorta Satèn. By holding the glass in vertical position, without swirling, let's proceed with the first smell in order to evaluate the opening of the wine, that is the primary and identifying olfactory qualities. On the nose we perceive, intense and clean, pleasing aromas of banana, acacia, apple and bread crust, the latter given, in particular, by the specific production of the refermentation in bottle. Let's now swirl the glass – an operation favoring the oxygenation of the wine and therefore the development of the other aromas – and let's proceed with the second smell. Franciacorta Satèn completes the olfactory profile with hawthorn, pear, plum and grapefruit, as well as aromas reminiscent of citrus and hazelnut, the latter generally also attributable to Pinot Blanc. Let's now pass to the evaluation of the opening of Champagne Blanc de Blancs and, by holding the glass in vertical position, let's proceed with the first smell. The French wine can be appreciated for its aromas of acacia, banana, honeysuckle and a pleasant aroma of croissant. After having swirled the glass, Champagne Blanc de Blancs completes its profile with pear, lime, hawthorn, bergamot, grapefruit and bread crust, often followed by the aroma of praline.

 Let's now pass to the evaluation of the gustatory profiles of Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de Blancs. The first organoleptic quality we will examine is the attack, that is the initial sensation the wine develops in the mouth at the first sip. Let's start with the evaluation of the attack of Franciacorta Satèn and then take a sip of this wine: the famous Italian sparkling wine expresses in the mouth an intense sensation of crispness and pleasing effervescence, almost creamy, not excessively strong. We can perceive flavors of apple, banana, pear and grapefruit, confirming the good correspondence to the nose. Note the effect of alcohol, decidedly moderate, however enough to balance the intensity of the effervescence and the crispness given by the acidity. Let's now pass to the evaluation of the attack of Champagne Blanc de Blancs and take a sip of this wine. The French sparkling wine can be appreciated in the mouth for the clear effervescence and pleasing crispness given by the acidity, with a rounder character than Franciacorta Satèn. The effervescence of Champagne is more aggressive than the Italian sparkling wine, however perfectly balanced by the effect of alcohol. In the mouth can also be perceived flavors of banana, pear, bergamot and praline.

 Let's end this month's tasting by contrast by proceeding with the evaluation of the final sensations Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de Blancs leave in the mouth after swallowing. In particular, we will evaluate the taste-olfactory persistence, that is the time during which the gustatory and olfactory sensations of the wine can be perceived after swallowing, a primary factor in the quality of a wine. The finish of Franciacorta Satèn is persistent and in the mouth can be still perceived intense and pleasing flavors of banana, apple, pear and grapefruit, with the sensation of crispness in primary evidence. The finish of Champagne Blanc de Blancs is also persistent – in both wines it can be easily counted over ten seconds – and in the mouth are perceived the flavors of banana, pear, grapefruit and praline. Moreover, also the sensation of crispness is well perceptible and – compared to Franciacorta Satèn – a stronger sensation of roundness is perceived as well. Finally, let's place the glasses side to side and proceed with a last smell, first the Franciacorta Satèn and then the Champgane Blanc de Blancs: the olfactory difference – despite the common presence of Chardonnay – is decidedly distant.

 



 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 214, February 2022   
Contrasts of Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de BlancsContrasts of Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de Blancs Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
Issue 213, January 2022 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 215, March 2022

Wines of the Month


 

Score legend

Fair    Pretty Good    Good
Very Good    Excellent
Wine that excels in its category Wine that excels in its category
Good value wine Good value wine
Prices are to be considered as indicative. Prices may vary according to the country
or the shop where wines are bought




Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante Metodo Classico Pas Dosè Turbante 2016, Gnavi Carlo (Piedmont, Italy)
Erbaluce di Caluso Spumante Metodo Classico Pas Dosè Turbante 2016
Gnavi Carlo (Piedmont, Italy)
Erbaluce
Price: € 25.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Brilliant golden yellow and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent, fine and persistent perlage,
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, plum and bread crust followed by aromas of hawthorn, chamomile, citron, pear, plum, hazelnut, thyme, yeast and mineral.
Effervescent and crisp attack, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of apple, plum and citron.
Refermented in bottle and aged on its lees for at least 48 months.
Stuffed pasta with mushrooms, Roasted white meat, Roasted fish, Mushroom soups, Legume soups



Erbaluce di Caluso Passito Riserva Revej 2007, Gnavi Carlo (Piedmont, Italy)
Erbaluce di Caluso Passito Riserva Revej 2007
Gnavi Carlo (Piedmont, Italy)
Erbaluce
Price: € 28.00 - 50cl Score: Wine that excels in its category

Deep amber yellow and nuances of amber yellow, transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of raisin, dried fig and hazelnut followed by aromas of dried apricot, date, caramel, candied fruits, chestnut honey, citrus fruit peel, licorice, walnut husk, leather and nail polish.
Sweet and round attack, however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, pleasing crispness.
Persistent finish with flavors of raisin, dried fig, date and chestnut honey.
10 years in steel and cement tanks, 1 year in bottle.
Hard and piquant cheese, Dried fruit tarts



Ishopu 2019, Antonio Mele (Sardinia, Italy)
Ishopu 2019
Antonio Mele (Sardinia, Italy)
Cannonau
Price: € 20.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense ruby red and nuances of ruby red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing and refined, starts with hints of plum, black cherry and dried violet followed by aromas of raspberry, blackberry, carob, walnut husk and vanilla.
Properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of plum, black cherry and raspberry.
12 months in cask.
Pasta with meat and mushrooms, Stewed meat with mushrooms, Broiled meat



Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva Vinera 2017, Antonio Mele (Sardinia, Italy)
Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva Vinera 2017
Antonio Mele (Sardinia, Italy)
Cannonau
Price: € 40.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Deep ruby red and nuances of garnet red, little transparency.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of plum, black cherry and dried violet followed by aromas of blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, tobacco, cocoa, carob, licorice, vanilla and menthol.
Properly tannic attack and however balanced by alcohol, full body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of plum, black cherry and blackberry.
18 months in cask, 12 months in bottle.
Game, Roasted meat, Stewed and braised meat, Hard cheese



Franciacorta Extra Brut Nelson Cenci 2012, La Boscaiola Vigneti Cenci (Lombardy, Italy)
Franciacorta Extra Brut Nelson Cenci 2012
La Boscaiola Vigneti Cenci (Lombardy, Italy)
Chardonnay (80%), Pinot Bianco (20%)
Price: € 31.20 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense straw yellow and nuances of golden yellow, very transparent, fine and persistent perlage.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, banana and bread crust followed by aromas of acacia, hawthorn, grapefruit, pear, citron, plum, honey, hazelnut, butter and croissant.
Effervescent and crisp attack, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of apple, banana and grapefruit.
Refermented in bottle and aged on its lees for at least 48 months.
Pasta with fish and mushrooms, Stewed fish with mushrooms, Roasted white meat, Mushroom soups, Legume soups



Franciacorta Brut Nelson Cenci
Franciacorta Brut Nelson Cenci "L'Insolita Annata" 2011
La Boscaiola Vigneti Cenci (Lombardy, Italy)
Chardonnay (70%), Pinot Bianco (20%), Pinot Nero (10%)
Price: € 41.40 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Brilliant straw yellow and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent, fine and persistent perlage.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, plum and bread crust followed by aromas of hawthorn, grapefruit, tangerine, pear, citron, pineapple, croissant, honey, butter, hazelnut and mineral.
Effervescent and crisp attack, however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of apple, plum and grapefruit.
Refermented in bottle and aged on its lees for at least 50 months.
Stuffed pasta with mushrooms, Roasted fish, Stewed meat with mushrooms, Legume soups, Mushroom soups



Collio Malvasia 2019, Schiopetto (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Collio Malvasia 2019
Schiopetto (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Malvasia Istriana
Price: € 25.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Brilliant straw yellow and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, plum and peach followed by aromas of hawthorn, broom, jasmine, pear, citrus fruits, pineapple, almond and flint.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of apple, plum and peach.
8 months in steel tanks, at least 5 months in bottle.
Fish and crustacean appetizers, Pasta with fish and crustaceans, Sauteed fish



Collio Friulano 2019, Schiopetto (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Collio Friulano 2019
Schiopetto (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Friulano
Price: € 25.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Brilliant straw yellow and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, pear and peach followed by aromas of hawthorn, white rose, broom, elder flower, pineapple, citrus fruits, plum, thyme, almond and mineral.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of apple, pear and peach.
8 months in steel tanks, at least 5 months in bottle.
Pasta and risotto with fish, Stewed fish, Sauteed white meat, Vegetable flans, Dairy products



Colli Orientali del Friuli Pinot Bianco Zuc di Volpe 2019, Volpe Pasini (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Colli Orientali del Friuli Pinot Bianco Zuc di Volpe 2019
Volpe Pasini (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Pinot Bianco
Price: € 25.50 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Brilliant straw yellow and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, plum and hawthorn followed by aromas of acacia, white rose, broom, lemon, pear, pineapple, peach, grapefruit, hazelnut and mineral.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Persistent finish with flavors of apple, plum and lemon.
Aged in steel tanks.
Pasta with fish and crustaceans, Sauteed fish, Sauteed white meat, Fried fish, Dairy products



Colli Orientali del Friuli Sauvignon Zuc di Volpe 2020, Volpe Pasini (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Colli Orientali del Friuli Sauvignon Zuc di Volpe 2020
Volpe Pasini (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Sauvignon Blanc
Price: € 25.50 Score:

Brilliant greenish yellow and nuances of greenish yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of gooseberry, peach and elder flower followed by aromas of acacia, broom citron, pear, pineapple, apple, plum, nettle, bell pepper, sage and mineral.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Very persistent finish with long flavors of gooseberry, peach and citron.
Aged in steel tanks.
Crustacean appetizers, Fried fish, Risotto with crustaceans and vegetables, Dairy products



Collio Friulano Ronco delle Cime 2020, Venica (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Collio Friulano Ronco delle Cime 2020
Venica (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Friulano
Price: € 28.00 Score: Wine that excels in its category

Intense straw yellow and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of apple, pear and medlar followed by aromas of hawthorn, chamomile, broom, peach, plum, citrus fruits, pineapple, hay, thyme and almond.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, pleasing roundness.
Persistent finish with flavors of apple, pear and medlar.
6 months in cask and in steel tanks.
Pasta and risotto with fish and crustaceans, Stewed fish with mushrooms, Fried fish, Broiled crustaceans, Mushroom soups



Collio Sauvignon Ronco delle Mele 2020, Venica (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Collio Sauvignon Ronco delle Mele 2020
Venica (Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy)
Sauvignon Blanc
Price: € 37.00 Score:

Brilliant straw yellow and nuances of straw yellow, very transparent.
Intense, clean, pleasing, refined and elegant, starts with hints of gooseberry, passion fruit and peach followed by aromas of elder flower, broom, pineapple, pear, citron, apple, lychee, grapefruit, nettle, bell pepper, sage and thyme.
Crisp attack and however balanced by alcohol, good body, intense flavors, agreeable.
Very persistent finish with long flavors of gooseberry, passion fruit and peach.
5 months, part in cask, part in steel tanks.
Pasta and risotto with fish and crustaceans, Sauteed fish with mushrooms, Mushroom soups, Sauteed white meat






 Editorial  Share this article     Summary of Wine Tasting column Events 
  Wine Tasting Issue 214, February 2022   
Contrasts of Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de BlancsContrasts of Franciacorta Satèn and Champagne Blanc de Blancs Wines of the MonthWines of the Month  Contents 
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