This Friday’s winery of the week is Ricci Curbastro, a Franciacorta producer. I have been a fan of both this particular winery and the Franciacorta category for almost 20 years. I love Champagne but the wines from Franciacorta D.O.C.G. have always held sway with me as well. Franciacorta is an area in the Lombardy region of Italy which is sandwiched between the city of Brescia and Lake Garda. The area makes great sparkling wines using the traditional method where the wine undergoes secondary fermentation in the bottle. This is different from the charmat method used to make Prosecco. My first Italian wine in a wine class in 1997 was in fact a Saten from Franciacorta. That wine was from Bellavista, a very well known winery in the area.
I met Riccardo Ricci Curbastro of the Ricci Curbastro winery in 2009 and just saw him again recently at a tasting in New York. Domenico Valentino is his local importer so his wines are fairly easy to find in New York City. The Ricci Curbastro family began bottling wine in Capriolo in Franciacorta as far back as the 1800s. In 1967, the winery became its modern self. That same year, the Franciacorta D.O.C. was created. Ricci Curbastro has 28 hectares covered in vines. The family makes about 200,000 bottles a year. The family also has an agritourism and a wine museum on the property.
Some years ago, Riccardo began experimenting with using less sulfites and more lees extraction. All Ricci Curbastro sparkling wines spend a minimum of 30 months on their lees (yeast). The results are fantastic.
I also really like the Brut as well as the Extra Brut. Perhaps the wine I like the most for sentimental reasons I believe is the Saten Brut. It also spends 30 months on its lees but its salient characteristic is that it has lower bottle pressure (5 atmospheres instead of the usual 6). I always find aromas of raspberries in Saten. It is creamy and delicious and goes well with everything in my opinion. I again tasted his Brut and Saten. They are both wonderful wines with great nutty, toasty and yeasty aromas and flavors. I find the Satem creamier.
Franciacorta also produces a lot of great still wine. Some of that is making headway here in the United States under the designation Curtafranca D.O.C. Ricci Curbastro makes both a Curtefranca Rosso and a Curtefranca Bianco D.O.C.
I am looking forward to trying the wines again at Vinitaly as I do every year.