If you’re new to Franciacorta, like I was when I received this wine, then you may be interested to know that the name, like Champagne, refers to a region — a region in northern Italy. Like many of Italy’s finest wines, the Franciacorta DOCG is located in a hilly portion of the country — between the southern shore of Lake Iseo and the city of Brscia — with mineral-rich, calcereous gravel and sandy soils and deeper limestone bedrock.
The DOCG spans 5,400 acres which is planted to Chardonnay (85%), Pinot Nero (10%), and Pinot Blanco (5%) — the DOCG’s “permitted” grape varieties.
All Franciacorta is made inthe metodo classico. Nonvintage Franciacorta must be aged for 18 months with yeast contact (as opposed to 15 months for Champagne). Vintage Franciacorta, or Millesimato must have 30 months of yeast contact (comparable to Champagne).
Designations for dosage is the same as Champagne: pas dosé, or dosage zéro; pas opéré: maximum 2 g/l of rs; extra brut: 6 g/l; brut: 15 g/l; extra dry: 12–20 g/l; sec: 17–35 g/l; demi-sec: 33–50 g/l.
I am so excited to finally get a sip of Riverbench — a winery out of Santa Maria, California I’ve heard so much about but had yet to taste. Even if you’re not familiar with the winery itself, you may recognize the name, as many iconic wineries have sourced grapes from this little piece of Santa Barbara County since the vineyard was established in 1973. The Riverbench Vineyard consists of 115 acres of Pinot Noir and 15 acres of Chardonnay. The team recently planted a few acres of Pinot Meunier, which they hope to have ready to play with this year.
When I spoke with Ed Wallo about tasting his wines, I noticed that he has a tendency toward the unusual — 100% bottlings of odd varietals; orange wine; and sparkling…Malbec??? I rarely drink Malbec as it is, so the prospect of tasting a sparkling Malbec intrigued and excited me. The classically rustic red wine is known to pair with bold flavors (Steak and chimichurri anyone?), yet sparkling wines and rosés are usually paired with lighter fare. (Where’s my cheese board?). Well, I did both. So let’s see what a sparkling Malbec tastes like and what kind of food it likes best.
The minute you think Iron Horse, you immediately think sparkling wine. Tell someone that’s what you’re sipping, and they know you’ve got quality bubbles in the glass. But the winery is more than a big Napa name: they give back to the community — in this case the ocean community. Four dollars of every bottle of Iron Horse Vineyards 2014 Ocean Reserve goes toward the National Geographic’s Ocean Initiative, establishing marine protected areas and supporting sustainable fishing practices around the globe.
I hope this isn’t untoward — but I did pair this wine with a (sustainable) fish dish!
This is not a Chinese wine. I’m just putting that out there because when I first received this wine I completely thought Iron Horse went rogue in China. They did not. In fact, this bottle was made to celebrate the Chinese Zodiac — 2018 is the year of the dog. Despite this not being a Chinese wine, I did pair this with a Chinese-inspired recipe…