The Berlucchi Franciacorta ’61 Brut is a blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir (which are also grapes traditionally used to make Champagne) sourced from vineyards located in the DOCG Franciacorta growing region of Lombardy in Northern Italy. The ’61 Brut is made with the Traditional Method (same as Champagne) and Berlucchi was the first to produce Bubbly in Franciacorta, 50 odd years ago. Most of you are very familiar with Prosecco and Spumante from Italy. As a bit of a refresher, Prosecco and Spumante are produced with the Charmat Method, after the grapes are fermented a first time, the fermented juice is transferred to huge pressurized vats and a 2nd fermentation occurs in the large vats (this is where the bubbles are added). For inexpensive Spumante (Spumante simply translates to Sparkling wine) the wine can be kept in the vats for days and for Prosecco the 2nd fermentation can last for weeks, then the wine is bottled. Franciacorta is produced exactly the same way as the wines of Champagne are made. The grapes are fermented a first time and then bottled. Before the temporary cap is placed on the bottle a measured amount of yeast and sugar are placed inside each bottle and the 2nd fermentation occurs in each and every bottle. With the Berlucchi Franciacorta ’61 Brut, the wine is aged 6 months after the 1st fermentation and 12 months during the 2nd fermentation and then another 2 months after the yeast residue is removed from each bottle and a permanent cork and cage is added. The alcohol content is 12.5%.
The color is pale golden yellow, with a flurry of tiny bubbles. The nose is delicate, apple, pear, lemon chiffon and a light touch of gum drop spice. The Franciacorta ’61 Brut has a bold mouthfeel, the flavors and textures engulf your palate. This bubbly is dry, crisp, refreshing and exceptionally well balanced, the acidity is right on target, you can feel it on your tongue and it gives great length to the flavors. It tastes of lemon/lime, grapefruit, apple, a hint of pear and a faint dash of brioche. The ’61 Brut transitions on the mid palate to a light brush of minerality, a little sweetness from tropical fruit and a slap of acidity. The finish is vibrant, full and long.
Most Sparkling wines shy away from going one on one with the Bubbly of Champagne, but not the Berlucchi Franciacorta ’61 Brut. Using grapes from top notch vineyards and made with impeccable production standards, the rules for producing DOCG Franciacorta Bubbly are actually more stringent than those of AOC Champagne. The ’61 Brut lists for $34.99, which puts it on the low end of non vintage Bubbly from Champagne and it has the quality and the flavor to stand up to that comparison. If you are of Italian decent or will be celebrating the Holidays with friends of Italian heritage, you can pop open the French Bubbly if you choose, but Berlucchi Franciacorta ’61 Brut does everything Champagne does, but with Italian style and flair. For those who are not Italian, the ’61 Brut more than holds its own with non vintage Champagne.
this bottle of bubbles was submitted as a sample