(2022) From a avery small winery this is all Chardonnay, with fermentation in French oak barrels, followed by six months ageing in the barrels and a minimum of 30 months on the lees. Fine almond and mineral flecked creamy nose, with plenty of biscuit and fresh lemony flavour. The palate has lovely juiciness and succulence: lots of fresh-squeezed lemon running through peach, that light creaminess of texture adding some mouth-filling texture, the acidity very fresh with a touch of salinity. Only 6g/l dosage, disgorged in October 2020.
(2022) Composed of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir, this was fermented in steel but the finest musts then matured six months in French oak. The wine then spends a minimum of five years on the lees plus five more in bottle before release. Very fine mousse, with a custard apple creaminess, some yeasty biscuit notes and a fat lemony fruit. With virtually no residual sugar it is taut, driven by citrus, and though there's a certain lean, wiry character, it is not mean or under-fruited. It is all about mouthwatering citrus and acid thrust, but the inherent ripeness avoids any suggestion of lacking generosity.
(2022) This blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir is partially fermented in oak and spends a minimum of 24 months on the lees. It is Brut, and opens with a very fine sense of minerals and small, summer blossom aromas. The fruit is elegant, with raspberry and redcurrant. In the mouth the mousse is cushiony and rich, with rosy red apple and those fragrant summer fruit and floral notes, ending with some richness but very good clarity, a pleasing touch of mouth-watering bitterness. A delicious, elegant and successful style.
(2020) This is Pinot Nero (Noir) with a little Pinot Meunier that spends between 18 and 24-months on the lees. It pours a pale, fresh colour, the nose very delicately scented with a touch of white flowers, cool citrus fruit and just a small suggestion of a more biscuity character. On the palate it is dry and riven with citrus acidity, lemon and a touch of lime, cool and firm on the mid-palate, certainly on the dry and mouthwatering spectrum, very clean and crisp.
(2020) This is 'Pas Dosé', otherwise known as zero dosage, with no sweetening dosage added after disgorgement. Made from Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the decision on which parts of the harvest are directed towards the Cuvée More Brut or Pas Dosé is based based on blind tasting. A lovely nose on this, again the autolysis showing nicely with some yeasty complexity, pear and citrus peel. In the mouth there is no sense of austerity - it is bone dry, yes, with a bracing salty acidity emphasised by the lack of dosage, but the sweetness of fruit balances in a most satisfying style.
(2020) This vintage cuvée spends a full 72 months on the lees before disgorgement. A selection of the best Pinot Noir, this is also Pas Dosé, with no dosage added. That long lees ageing immediately impacts the complexity of the nose, with autolytic notes of brioche and biscuit against ripe, lemony fruit, all sorts of subtle nutty notes too. In the mouth a striking, dry palate with its zero added sugar, and beautifully balanced as sweet nectarine and orange runs into a much more pithy, tangy lemon and grapefruit acidity. Long and refined.
(2020) From the highest part of the Pinot Noir vineyard, this spent a full 60 months on the lees and has a dosage at 6g/l. The nose is lovely, crammed with small red berries, that extended time on the lees giving a touch of biscuit and light earthiness. In the mouth peach and, again, small tart red berries are brisk and fresh, the lemony thrust of the acidity extending the finish. A really nice rosé. No UK stockist at time of review, but the wine is available internationlly from xtrawine.com for around £22 per bottle.
(2018) Just a beautiful rosé from Bellavista. one of Franciacorta's bigger houses where all base wines are barrel-fermented. From south-facing vineyards this is more or less equal parts Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. An attractive pale colour and the prettiest aromas, small wild strawberries, peach down and watermelon, all lightly touched by creamy vanilla. On the palate the mousse is very fine, very elegant, and though there is that soft and seductive strawberry, the acid balance is perfect and the shimmering length of the wine is terrific.
(2017) Franciacorta's unique 'Satèn' style is a favourite of mine: all-Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs wines bottled with a lower pressure than in regular Brut styles, for a particularly soft and luxurious feel. This gold-tinged wine has brioche and apple pie aromas, a fine creamy yeastiness, and on the palate lovely enveloping texture, ripe, ripe fruit but terrific acidity, a zest and tang to leave it super fresh too. Note there are no UK stockists of this particular Satèn cuvée at time of review, but the Brut is selling for £22.00. The quoted stockist in Italy sells this at €16.40 (£14.48), with free delivery if spending €199 or more. Satèn from other excellent producers are in the UK: try the example from Barone Pizzini (Vintage Roots), Ferghettina (All About Wine) or Biondelli (Berry Bros.) for example.
(2016) It's an astonishingly low price for this pre-Christmas special parcel of Franciacorta in Lidl UK stores: Franciacorta is a super-premium sparkling wine region of northern Italy, the wines normally selling in the £20 - £30 range. Made by the traditional method, this all-Chardonnay wine was aged on the lees for 18 months and offers fresh, appetising aromas of pear and baked apple pie, leading onto a fresh and lemony palate, a touch of that creamy pastry character, but tight and zippy into a decent finish that is dry and savoury enough for food matching. Watch the video for tips on that and more information about the wine.