After discovering so many new grape varieties on my last trip to Portugal I was eager to see what new wines I could find when I headed out to Italy to do some research. Like Portugal, Italy has hundreds of grape varieties. For now let me mention just one wine and something that can be tracked down quite easily in the U.K.
For a sparkling wine that has a quality level that puts it in competition with good Champagne search out a bottle of Franciacorta. This tiny wine region in northern Italy near lake Iseo makes classy sparkling wine from exactly the same grape varieties and in just the same laborious way as Champagne. There are not many producers but Barone Pizzini, founded in 1870, is one of the oldest and is available in the U.K. Their 2005 Riserva is terrific. The wine is lovingly made and is given more time to age than most Champagnes can afford to, or be bothered to, give to their wines. I could happily drink this wine as an aperitif but to be honest I feel it’s more of a food wine and would accompany very nicely something like smoked salmon followed by some lobster or turbot.
Barone Pizzini Franciacorta is shipped by Vintage Roots.