Bellavista Franciacorta Teatro La Scala Brut 2015
This remarkable operation, masterminded by owner Vittorio Moretti and winemaker Mattia Vezzola (Gambero Rosso Winemaker of the Year 2008), combines grandeur and star quality with familiarity and simplicity. The estate’s larger-than-life facilities, 3,280 feet of underground cellars, impressive contemporary architecture (helipad included), and 1,250 surrounding acres of Franciacorta soil – 462 acres of which are now under vine – leave you awestruck. Moretti founded the estate in 1977, and the first bottle of Franciacorta was released in 1979. The winery philosophy: "Every objective we reach is merely the starting point for a higher objective." In over a quarter of a century, the style of Bellavista has become a benchmark to the DOCG. Its vineyards now constitute 8% of the entire appellation, in extraordinarily favorable positions. Franciacorta’s limestone/clayey soil, richly endowed with the same elements as Champagne, is enhanced by such quality details as in-depth genetic research, organic-only fertilization, phased out harvests, parcelled out crops (over eighty selections, separately fermented in oak/stainless steel), Marmonnier and Coquard presses, up to six years’ bottle age in the cellars, refermentation directly in the bottle for the larger format sparkling wines, remuage by hand for all sparkling wines, etc... Both still and sparkling wines are from prime hillside vineyards, clonally selected material and densely planted stock. The past couple of years have seen yet another phase in the estate’s constant crescendo: increasing élevage, on average from 36 to 48 months, so as to achieve the greatest possible quality consistency and personality.
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture virtually inextricable from red, white and sparkling wines. Wine grapes grow in every region throughout Italy—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean.
Italian Wine Regions
Naturally, most Italian wine regions enjoy a Mediterranean climate and a notable coastline, if not coastline on all borders, as is the case with the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. The Alps in the northern regions of Valle d'Aosta, Lombardy and Alto Adige create favorable conditions for cool-climate grape varieties. The Apennine Mountains, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south, affect climate, grape variety and harvest periods throughout. Considering the variable terrain and conditions, it is still safe to say that most high quality viticulture in Italy takes place on picturesque hillsides.
Italian Grape Varieties
Italy boasts more indigenous grape varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most Italian wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but are declining in popularity, especially as younger growers take interest in reviving local varieties. Most important are Sangiovese, reaching its greatest potential in Tuscany, as well as Nebbiolo, the prized grape of Piedmont, producing single varietal, age-worthy Piedmontese wines. Other important varieties include Corvina, Montepulciano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and of course the white wines, Trebbiano, Verdicchio and Garganega. The list goes on.
Representing the topmost expression of a Champagne house, a vintage Champagne is one made from the produce of a single, superior harvest year. Vintage Champagnes account for a mere 5% of total Champagne production and are produced about three times in a decade. Champagne is typically made as a blend of multiple years in order to preserve the house style; these will have non-vintage, or simply, NV on the label. The term, "vintage," as it applies to all wine, simply means a single harvest year.