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2019 #Lombardia | Ricci Curbastro winery, Franciacorta

Updated: Jan 7, 2020

Visiting Franciacorta area in Lombardia is always a nice trip full of shiny tasty bubbles and visiting wineries in the area is a special pleasure. Some of the producers in the area makes really outstanding wines, Ricci Curbastro is definitely one of those and worth visiting for sure.

The estate is located in Capriolo commune of #Franciacorta and run by Ricci Curbastro family, having roots in Lugo di Romagna in Ravenna province, moved there in the 13th century from Florence during the Guelph-Ghibelline wars. The winery in Franciacorta is one of three estates owned by family, located in the place called Villa Evelina, which stands in the natural park of 32 hectares, of which about 27 hectares are planted with #vineyards. Ricci Curbastro is organic certified estate and uses only own grapes for wine production. The territory of the villa is very green and beautiful with high old trees, a lot of plants and birds singing around.

Right in the middle there is a special house for two friendly goats living there. Real farm-living style feeling.

There is a great Agriculture and Wine museum belongs to estate, it was opened in 1986 and now has thousands of objects showing how agricultural and #winemaking works were carried out in the past, by the ancestors. The museum is very impressive, I would say, a lot of things which has made life of local farmers easier many years ago, when our modern technologies were not invented yet.

The first part is dedicated to winemaking. Stunning old things are shown there, like presses...

...grape crushers...

...destemmers (yes, they didn't look always like we get used to see them nowadays)...

...barrels and big botti (those times they were not all made of oak, as it was very expensive, they've made it sometimes of chestnut too).

I like this one, a manual operated machine for bottles' washing, they put a #bottle upside down onto the spin, rotated it and the small brushes were washing it from inside. Simple, easy making, useful.

A lot of other interesting old things like baskets for grapes and bottles are collected in this room.

This mini-press for laboratory tests is just cute.

The second room is dedicated to agricultural objects, everything which is connected with farming and managing animals in old times.

The last room upstairs holds thousands of household objects, and all of them are amazingly kept in a good shape.

The tools for making dough and pasta...

...a tool for separating corn from the cob...

...hundred types of knives...

...tools for meat grinding and even a small refrigerator called "Siberia" (my Russian friends would be happy).

The last part of museum is outside, in front of the #cellar entrance. Old long shaped barrels and transportation for them can be found here...

...a vertical press, which has a super big construction but the pressing area itself (in the middle) is quite small, what proves how many efforts people in those times has to put for producing the things we get used to consider like "simple" in our times. Life was definitely much more difficult a hundred years ago.

The fermentation room has a lot of space and there are some nice modern art paintings placed inside. I like this one, showing the beauty of Franciacorta land - grapes, castle, mountains and Lago d'Iseo local teeny tiny lake, definitely worth visiting.

The estate produces majority of types of wines allowed in Franciacorta area: IGT Sebino and DOC Curtefranca (still wines), and of course DOCG Franciacorta (sparklings). Total production is about 200 000 bottles per year, of which around 140 000 is Franciacorta DOCG.

The law for Franciacorta DOCG production during many years allowed only three grape varieties: #Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. Interesting, that starting from 2018 year there is a 4th variety allowed as well, called Erbamat. It is a late ripening variety and being harvested in the end of Sept even in October. Ricci Curbastro has plantings of less than an hectare of Erbamat and this year 2019 is the first vintage when estate uses also #Erbamat for Franciacorta DOCG production. Let's see then how it will be going.

Fermentation at the estate is being carried in stainless still tanks.

The unique small wooden tank is for experiments, as was explained.

The heart of the estate, the cellar, is of course located deep underground. Franciacorta DOCG is produced by traditional method, like Champagne and Cremants, what means second fermentation is going inside the bottle. Besides A-shaped pupitres for manual remuage, there are giro-palettes in the cellar. Even though I love how traditional old pupitres look like, but I also love our modern technological things, which make now life of #winemakers much easier then at ancient times.

"Non toccare" means "Do not touch". Unless you're a person responsible for remuage, then better do not touch these bottles to do not ruin a very delicate process of lees removal.

Ageing on lees in the bottle, normally by the law for Franciacorta DOCG is min 18 month for non-vintage wines, but in Ricci Curbastro estate it is min 30 month, so it's almost two times longer, what give richer, rounder, more textured and more complex Franciacorta.

Wine library of the estate with older vintage bottles carefully kept.

The process of remuage being well explained by Gualberto Ricci Curbastro.

I like these highlighted bottles, where you can clearly see a magic of transferring the lees from the side of the bottle to its neck.

Ricci Curbastro estate produces great Franciacorta, one of the bests I've tasted, no doubts. Our tasting flight was of Brut, Saten Brut, Extra Brut and Rose (of which I forgot to make a single pic, pfff).

Franciacorta DOCG Brut

Grapes: Chardonnay 60%, Pinot Blanc 30%, Pinot Noir 10%

Alcohol: 12,5%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel, second fermentation in bottle

Ageing: 30 month on lees, plus 3-6 month in the cellar after disgorgement

Nose: apple blossom, green pineapple, yeast, fresh bread

Palate: creamy, structured, fruity notes

This Brut is very well made, it is easy drinking and I believe can fit a palate of majority of people. It contains about 6 gr of residual sugar, so for those who like it with a super slight touch of sweetness (not me) it will be just a great choice. It's clear, understandable, with pure floral notes and fine #bubbles, soft, round and just nice.

Franciacorta DOCG Saten Brut

Grapes: Chardonnay 100%

Vintage: 2015 (even if it's not indicated on front label, but this wine is millesimato, it is indicated on the back label)

Alcohol: 12,5%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in oak barrels, second fermentation in bottle

Ageing: 40 month on lees, plus 3-6 month in the cellar after disgorgement

Nose: white flowers, green apple, nectarine, brioche, roasted almond

Palate: rich, fruity, fine texture

Great Saten with a bit lower pressure in the bottle (5 atm max), which make this wine extremely subtle, smooth and elegant. Residual sugar is about 5 gr, but the #acidity is so high and well balanced so you barely feel that sugar. The aromas of toasted bread and roasted nuts clearly shows it spent more than 3 years on lees, the wine has rich texture, round mouthfeel, it is complex and definitely better to pair it with food. This Saten was awarded six years in a row from 2001 to 2006 with "Cinque Grappoli" (Five grapes) by AIS (Italian Sommellier Association) and in 2007 ranked as the best wine in the Lombardia by AIS Lombardia. Worth those awards for sure, highly recommended.

Franciacorta DOCG Extra Brut

Grapes: Chardonnay 50%, Pinot Noir 50%

Vintage: 2014 (even if it's not indicated on front label, but this wine is millesimato, it is indicated on the back label)

Alcohol: 12,5%

Vinification: alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel and 20% oak barrels, second fermentation in bottle

Ageing: 42 month on lees, plus 3-6 month in the cellar after disgorgement

Nose: toasted bread, almonds, white peach, seashell

Palate: fresh, round, elegant

This Extra Brut is my fave in the line up tasted. Lovely Franciacorta, extremely elegant wine, perfectly expressing terroir with obvious mineral character, it is blended of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, fresh and fruity on the palate. It has only about 2 gr of residual sugar, which is not yet my lovely "dosage zero", but already quite close to that, being perfectly balanced with a high acidity it gives a great result in this wine. This Extra Brut is being produced only in a vintage version, which is again not indicated on the front label, but in fact it is #millesimato. Beautiful wine, love it.

Many thanks to Gualberto Ricci Curbastro for managing my visit and very interesting story telling about Franciacorta area and its wines.

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