The Cellar: Berlucchi + Avignonesi

Friday, April 25, 2014


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Spring = Italy

Italy remains the world’s largest producer of wine. One of the things that continues to amaze me about Italian wine is not only the thousands different types and styles of wine produced, but that a lot of Italian wine remain great values. This week features two such wines.

NV Berlucchi, Franciacorta Brut, Franciacorta, Lombardy

This week’s first wine is an outstanding, traditionally made sparkling wine from Lombardy. I recently featured ‘Italy’s Champagne region’ - Franciacorta - and figured I would follow-up this week with another, more readily available, example. This Franciacorta is made by the #1 (in terms of volume) ‘Metodo Classico’ sparkling wine producer in Italy, the famed Guido Berlucchi Estate. Alongside Franco Ziliani, Guido Berlucchi is often credited for having been the first to understand the winegrowing potential of Franciacorta and the first to bottle a sparkling wine under the label ‘Franciacorta’ – that was in 1961. The $35 Berlucchi Franciacorta non-vintage Brut is a sparkling blend of 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir matured for a minimum of 24 months. This wine features aromas of baked green apple and pears. On the palate the aromas are replicated with the addition of citrus. The bubbles are dense, yet smooth. Great wine!

2011 Avignonesi, Rosso di Montepulciano, Tuscany

This week’s second wine represents everything I love about a great Rosso Di Montepulciano, arguably one of Italy’s best ‘everyday’ red table wines; it is absolutely delicious, can be consumed by itself as well as with an array of food and finally, it is very reasonably priced (under $20). Montepulciano (the region, not to be confused with the grape of the same name) is one of Tuscany’s southernmost appellations with its vineyards surrounding the town of Montepulciano. Regulations of the appellation, amended in 1999, allow Rosso di Montepulciano to have less Sangiovese (70%) than the ‘Nobile’, and more Canaiolo, as well as other varieties such as Mammolo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The best producers however insist on keeping Sangiovese front and center in their Rossos. Avignonesi’s Rosso is almost exclusively Sangiovese (96%). The wine is aged for 5 months in a mix of barriques and oak casks with an additional 3 months in bottle allowing the wine to come together. This is a bright and juicy example. Well structured and dry, this wine displays ripe red cherries, dark plum and herbal forest floor. It finishes bright with lingering acidity.


Steffen Rasch is a Certified Sommelier and Specialist of Wine. Feel free to email him at [email protected] with any wine-related question or learn about wine in person by signing up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.


Related Slideshow: 10 New England Wine Getaways

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