The SOMM Journal

February / March 2016

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C M Y CM MY CY CMY K { sparklers } Italy's Bubbling Secret by Celia Soudry BELLAVISTA CAPTURES THE "TRUE SOUL" OF FRANCIACORTA At Bellavista (left to right): Winemaker Mattia Vezzola, Francesca Moretti (CEO of the wine division of Terra Moretti Group, encompassing Bellavista, Contadi Castaldi, Petra and Tenuta La Badiola), Vittorio Moretti, owner of Bellavista and President of the Consorzio Franciacorta. NESTLED IN THE ROLLING HILLS OF NORTHERN ITALY between the south- ern shore of Lake Iseo and the city of Brescia, the small wine-producing area of Franciacorta is thriving. The region is producing some truly elegant wines—and American somms are beginning to take notice. Franciacorta wines are made primarily from the same grapes as the wines of Champagne—85% of the region's plantings are Chardonnay, and 5% are Pinot Noir. Despite the similarities, Vittorio Moretti, President of the Consorzio Franciacorta and owner of Bellavista and Contadi Castaldi wineries, feels that no one will mistake Bellavista's Franciacorta wines for the wines of Champagne. "Italy is Italy, France is France. As with Champagne, the terroir in Franciacorta makes our wines distinct." Surrounded by manicured lawns, vintage cars and contemporary architectural designs (helipad included), Bellavista is a 39-year-old winery that could easily pass for a historic château. Within its dimly lit caves, each aging bottle evidences the tradition and craftsmanship of the winery's vision. Winemaker Mattia Vezzola believes that the future of European winemaking will be based on craftsmanship and has spent the past three decades improving upon Bellavista's flagship release, Meraviglioso, a vintage-dated wine only bottled about twice a decade, when growing conditions are perfect. When tasting it for the first time, Moretti exclaimed, "Meraviglioso," which in English translates to "marvelous." And so, the wine was named. Vezzola wanted Meraviglioso to convey the essence of Bellavista and the man who created it, in the most authentic way possible. "I was not looking for a stylistic exercise to dem - onstrate winemaking skills—far from it. I searched with all my might for a Franciacorta that would portray the most intimate and true soul of this company and its land," he says. The strength of Franciacorta wines resides in the region's soils, microclimates, and vineyards. Bellavista has 190 hectares of vineyards and 107 plots, which are located within ten municipalities in the region. That makes it possible for Bellavista and Contadi Castaldi to maintain the distinctiveness of each lot. The six vintages of Meraviglioso—1984, 1988, 1991, 1995, 2001 and 2002—cap - ture the viticultural and oenological mindset of Vezzola and Moretti, who seek to express freshness and minerality in the Bellavista brand. In a rare tasting at the winery last November, Moretti uncorked four bottles of his Franciacorta wines from the 1987 and 1989 vintages, each housed in different- sized bottles, ranging from 750 ml to 9 L. Moretti's aim was to explore exactly how variable bottle sizes effects the same wine—just one example of the care that goes into the making of each wine. The comparison confirmed that the larger format bottles more successfully retained the bubbles than the smaller ones. With winemakers in Franciacorta exhibiting Bellavista's level of precision, the region gives sparkling wine aficionados something new to celebrate. Bellavista is imported by Empson USA. PHOTO COURTESY OF BELLAVISTA PHOTO COURTESY OF BELLAVISTA PHOTO COURTESY OF BELLAVISTA The vineyards of Bellavista. 24 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016

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