Aug 132012
 
Franciacorta group

Photo Credit: Paul Wagner

It was a tough assignment:  leading a group of some of the top sommeliers, writers, bloggers and a film crew on a hosted tour of the finest sparkling wine region in Italy, Franciacorta.   Less than an hour from Milan, this region produces world class sparkling wine in the foothills of the Alps—but nobody ever sees it outside of Italy.  Why?  Because they drink it during Fashion Week In Milan, at Opening Night and the Opera at La Scala, when Inter or AC Milan win an important championship, or whenever anyone in Italy wants to celebrate a grand occasion with glamour and style.

Like I said, not much gets out of the country.

But that didn’t stop them from pulling out all the stops.  We visited the Museum in Brescia and wished we’d had a full day to wander around it—including the Roman ruins they discovered as they were working on the museum.  We had tours of the charming town of Iseo, on the lake of the same name, where Riva, the most expensive speedboats in the world are made.  We took a cruise on the lake itself, and passed the island owned by the Beretta family, complete with palatial residence.  Yes, that Beretta.  And we saw monasteries, ancient towns, and wildlife refuges as well.

Franciacorta

Photo Credit: Paul Wagner

Most of all, we met the men and women who make the wines of Franciacorta.  They were excited and exciting, passionately sharing their vision for their wines and their role in the world of wine.  They poured their classic releases and the top of the line wines.  They proudly told us about their new experiments, and they insisted that we try the results—often with great food, always with fascinating wines.  These were not Citroen or Renault sparkling wines—-these were racy wines that made us think of Ferrari, Lamborghini, and Maserati.

And the food.  Each meal was artfully crafted to match with wonderful wines—and since the wines were elegant sparkling wines, the food was pure delight.  Nothing too rich or heavy, each dish simply satisfied, intrigued, and led to the next course.  We got up from each meal with an amazing sense of both satiety and—amazing on a wine trip—health!

After five days, we were sold.  Actually, we were sold after about a day and half—but please don’t tell them.

(Of course, that was the point!  The trip is part of a new project to introduce the wines of Franciacorta to the US market, and this was a first step).

And when we flew out, we left the film crew behind.  They still had a date with Fashion Week in Milan, and a drive in a Ferrari.

I guess we’ll get to do that next time.