Lo Sparviere Brut Cuvée n.7 NV Franciacorta DOCG – Review
I first became aware of Franciacorta, the deliciously deluxe Italian sparkling wine, on a wonderful trip for London Unattached to Lake Garda for the Fish and Chef gastronomic festival. Michelin starred chefs worked their magic with the lake fish and we toasted the chefs, the lake and its associated piscine inhabitants with glasses of this exceptional wine. We are all familiar with Prosecco, the reasonably priced Italian fizz that can turn any occasion into a celebration, but there are times when something more refined is called for.
A bottle of Franciacorta fits the bill. Hailing from the Brescia province of Lombardy, about an hour from Milan and on the south side of Lake Iseo, Franciacorta is made using the ‘traditional method’ of sparkling wine production that involves a second fermentation in the bottle as contrasted to the second fermentation in vat or tank that is the hallmark of Prosecco. It’s the same process as the ‘méthode champenoise’ that is used to make champagne.
With the 2,000 hectares of vines under cultivation for the production of Franciacorta using the same grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc) that are allowed for champagne production, there are obvious similarities between these two premium sparkling wines. The 19 municipalities in the province of Brescia where the Franciacorta region is located is characterised by ‘morainic’ geology formed from the accumulated debris created by retreating glaciers some 10,000 years ago. The debris or ‘glacial till’ is very rich in mineral content and this geological feature differentiates this area from the chalky deposits of the Champagne region as well as contributing a depth of flavour to Franciacorta wines.
For our review we have been supplied with a prizewinning bottle of Lo Sparviere Brut Cuvée n.7 NV Franciacorta DOCG – The DOCG is the highest quality classification status for Italian wines – The Chardonnay grapes for Lo Sparviere Brut Cuvée no.7 are sourced from a south-west facing vineyard in the village of Provaglio d’Iseo. They are harvested by hand at the end of the summer with the initial fermentation taking place in stainless steel tanks at a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius. After a 7-month maturation period still in the steel tanks, the wine is bottled ‘on the lees’ (with the yeast sediment left in place, which as it breaks down gives Franciacorta its signature ‘autolytic’ flavours such as toast and brioche) and stored for 30 months, twice the amount of time for non-vintage Champagne.
The wine itself has a beautiful amber colour with a delicate mousse and rich notes of ripe white peach, honeyed brioche, and yeast. It has a lovely balance between the richness of the flavours and a robust acidity and a medium alcohol level of 13% which makes it suitable as an aperitif or for any kind of celebration.
Winemaking in the Franciacorta region dates back to the ancient Romans with the area being ‘a treasure-trove of magnificent mansions, centuries-old villas, castles, churches, and monasteries’. Our review wine comes from the Azienda Lo Sparviere, a 60 hectares wine estate owned by the Gussalli Beretta family. The winemaking takes place in a 16th-century cellar building named after the hawk on the coat-of-arms adorning the fireplace in the main hall of the estate’s villa. At Lo Sparviere they make a wide variety of styles of Franciacorta DOCG–Brut, Extra Brut, Dosaggio Zero, Satèn, and Rosé all of which would be worth exploring if you are a fan of sparkling wines as I am.
Lo Sparviere Brut Cuvée no.7 Franciacorta is available online from Independent Wine, a specialist Italian wine merchant that ships premium quality Italian wines to the UK, at a price of £27.08 per bottle which makes it less expensive than a bottle of Bollinger Special Cuvée or Moet et Chandon Brut Imperial. So if you are looking for a high quality sparkling wine at a reasonable price point it’s well worth a shot.
More information about the winery: https://www.losparviere.it/en/company