The tradition of Franciacorta and Champagne grapes like Chard and Pinot Noir goes back a long way, but it was in fact Pinot Bianco wine that was the first grape recognized as a DOC, Pinot di Franciacorta, in the sixties. Chardonnay soon became the favored white grape as the region strived for greater recognition on the world stage, but I’ll admit that I appreciate the houses, like Le Marchesine, that still champion Pinot Bianco as an important element to their sparkling wines. Fun fact: Pinot Blanc is still one of the four grapes allowed in Champagne, though it is very seldom (sadly) ever a feature. Pinot Meunier is the other but to my knowledge, Meunier has never found itself such a nice vacation home in Italy as this one.
Le Marchesine is considered a smaller family operation when compared to the majority of Franciacorta, relatively speaking. The region itself is small when compared to the amount of wine it produces, so there is no surprise that it is mostly run by big business. So although the dawn of smaller producers making waves in this region has yet to be realized, the Biatta family remains an important part of the strong reputation it has today. They feel it is important to keep Champagne as their inspiration, but make certain that the unique soils and far warmer Brescia climate defines their wines first and foremost.
This is a highly aromatic bubbly, unique especially in Franciacorta. The Pinot Bianco plays a big role in that result and I just love its assertiveness here. Asian pears, a fresh baked poppy seed scone with lemon glaze, sweetgrass and pickled ginger. Sharp acid provides an edge that melts away into a just kiss of sweetness. Pinot Blanc finds it’s best success in the mountainous region of Alsace in France, but also in Italy amidst the cool slopes of Trentino-Alto Adige just on the other side of Lake Garda. So although one really can’t drink Franciacorta without seeking some comparison in Champagne, this wine showcases a flavor profile that truly shows a sense of place.
As a region, Franciacorta has recently been taking sustainable farming much more seriously. A very encouraging and influential step for such a high profile growing region to be working together towards greener practices.