It was a double celebration in the delightful setting of the Mosnel winery and ancient villa, with its 16th century cellars and acres of immaculate garden. 1836 was the year the Barboglio family bought the villa, 180 years ago, but it is also the first opportunity to look back on a decade of their premium, all-Chardonnay cuvée called ‘EBB’, named after Emanuela Barzanò Barboglio, who was a pioneer of the Franciacorta appellation when it was created 50 years ago. EBB was launched in 2003 by her son and daughter, Giulio (right) and Lucia who run the estate today.
Franciacorta is gloriously positioned in Lombardy in the north of Italy. It is ringed by mountains with the huge Lake Iseo visible from many vantage points. This is Italy’s traditional method sparkling wine heartland, producing around 16 million bottles annually of fine wine from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir (and occasionally a drop of Pinot Blanc) which is given even longer ageing than Champagne under DOCG rules.
The Barboglio family produce around 250,000 bottle annually from their organically certified vineyards, EBB being a Blanc de Blanc that has a very low dosage of between 3 and 4 g/L of sugar, making it an Extra Brut rather than Brut style. The vineyards for EBB are south and south-east facing, trained in the Guyot system on morainic soils with a mix of gravel and rounded pebbles. For sparkling wine the yield is low at 52hl/ha, and primary fermentation is all done in 225-litre barriques, with five months of ageing before it receives its liqueur de tirage for the secondary fermentation. Each vintage is matured for a minimum of 36 months on the lees.
The wines spanned that first 2003 vintage through to the 2012, which was disgorged ‘live’ for the tasting and which has yet to be commercially released. Over it’s 10-year history EBB has changed from Brut to Extra Brut, the dosage reduced from around 5 – 6g/L to 3 – 4g/L since the 2006 vintage.
The wines showed a definite progression, with high quality evident from the earliest vintages, but the finesse and subtle complexity of the wines developing nicely. EBB is a delightful aperitif style in its youth, but it appears a few years in the cellar develops more toast and complexity, and more food-matching weight and texture perhaps.
The UK stockist of Mosnel is Vini Italiani, but they do not appear to stock this particular cuvée. International stockists are listed in the wine-searcher link against each wine.
Mosnel EBB, 2012 – 2003
(2016) Not yet disgorged at time of tasting, the early summer was rainy and cool, but from mid-July onwards a heatwave meant the wine ended up with perfect sugar-acid ratios, and a small but high quality crop. It is hugely aromatic at this stage, lots of punch and vivacious character, real energy and life with some tropical and Mandarin orange aromas.The palate has a background creaminess of flavour, but that spark and vitality of the vintage comes through. Very promising.
(2016) A warm spring and cool-ish summer, with adequate rainfall, made for a good growing season. It was also a big cropping year, with enough for Mosnel and other producers to lay down substantial reserves. It is a beautifully racy EBB, but there is richness too, the pale golden colour and a nice breadiness very inviting. Citrus peel and crisp Chardonnay fruit on the palate, a light but creamy mousse and a salty tang of acidity in the finish.
(2016) Early summer was uncharacteristically cold and wet, and led to a late harvest, but thankfully in perfect conditions through August (harvested last week of August). A touch deeper in colour than the 2011 for sure, some toffee and toffee apple betraying the later harvest perhaps, a little honey but delicate chamomile notes too. The fatness comes through on the palate, in a wine that is considerably more advanced than the 2011, with good acids, but perhaps without the decisive clarity. Still rather delicious.
(2016) Very good weather conditions in 2009, slightly earlier bud-break and harvested two weeks earlier than 2010. I really enjoyed this opulent EBB, where I detected a little more new oak perhaps, its buttercup hue showing real Chardonnay apple-pie creaminess and a hint of flinty minerality. The palate shows plenty of fine orangey fruit and singing acidity, full and yet shimmering with life and freshness. Arguably a less refined style than some here but I loved its generosity.
(2016) Still a touch of green to the pale gold colour. Fine, light, toasty nose again a little flinty character, and such lovely crunchy apple and citrus - lime peel and lemon peel. Great combination of juicy freshness and that developed toastiness. Nice taut finish.
(2016) A mild winter and early vine growth, bud break 20 days earlier than average. A mild summer allowed long, slow ripening, with a well-timed heat spike just before harvest in the second week of August. Quite pale - paler than the '08 or '09 - and yeasty, with a touch of toffee and honey, but it seems very elegant and refined aromatically, and youthful. Creamy and ripe, and a delicious example which may have considerable ageing potential as that refined acidity and balance is there.
(2016) A mix of rain and very dry conditions over spring and summer, but August saw perfect conditions and a 10°C diurnal shift. A slightly deeper colour than the 2007, a hint of burnished gold. Complex, developed aromatics here, salts and citrus, a hint of mushroom and truffle and yet herby/floral nuances too. Superb palate, definite toasty and peachy development, but gorgeous finesse, the acidity thrilling and clear in the finish.
(2016) After a temperamental spring the summer saw settled, sunny weather and good diurnal shift. A touch lighter than the 2006 in colour, but a big step up on the 2004 and 2003 with lovely tertiary aromas, a salty note joining lightly earthy, truffle and vegetal notes, complex but feeling quite young and taut. Delicious autolytic character, bready and brioche flavours and then lemon rind and mineral acidity.
(2016) A good average climatic year, with no extremes and good crop levels. Quite truffley, a touch less clear and perhaps less harmonious than the younger wines, the palate a little less pure. The balance is good, with good acid levels though the flavours don't full push through.
(2016) High summer temperatures led to an early harvest, but small crop. Quite a depth of colour here, just a very slightly sherried character, slightly less fresh than it might be. Sweet on the palate, seems to be an almost Botrytis note, toasty and sweet, pleasant but not the quality or definition of the younger and better vintages.