Great Italian Wines for march 2013

Wine for march - Under $25

Corte Sant’Alda, “Ca’ Fiui” Valpolicella 2008 (about $22)

In 1985 Marinella Camerani decided to leave her comfortable life in Verona and pursue her dream of living on her family’s country estate that lay northeast of Verona in the village of Mezzane de Sotto. With her family’s help she revitalized the country estate and started producing wines from grapes grown on the estate’s 37 acres of prime south-facing vineyards. Significantly, she decided to go organic and all the grapes used in Corte Sant’Alda’s wines are certified organic and grown in accordance with bio-dynamic agriculture principles.

Despite the fact that she didn’t have any real winemaking background, she started to turn out some very good wines and very quickly established a reputation as a producer of quality Valpolicella and other classic regional wines. The estate today produces a small number of wines that include Soave, Recioto, Ripasso and Amarone in addition to several Valpolicellas.

In 2008 Gambero Rosso honored Ms. Camerani with the “Grower of the Year” award in recognition of her environmentally-friendly wine-making and vineyard management initiatives.

Corte Sant'Alda 2008 Ca' Fiui ValpolicellaCorte Sant’Alda’s “Ca’ Fiui” (cah’ few ee) is the estate’s entry level Valpolicella and is made from the traditional Valpolicella blend of Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara grapes. They are hand-harvested in early October, naturally fermented in large oak casks and then aged in a variety of different sizes barrels.

The result is a wine with a deep red color and a purple tint on the edge. A little swirling of the glass launches enticing red cherry and floral aromas. It has a medium body and is well balanced with dark fruit flavors tinged with herbs and kitchen spices, mouth-watering acidity and muted tannins. It’s a lovely and elegant wine with good varietal characteristics and a velvety texture that would make it a welcome guest at almost any dinner table.

Wine for march – $25 and over

Tenuta Villa Crespia, “Novalia” Brut Franciacorta NV (about $30)

Franciacorta is Italy’s best sparkling wine and is similar in many respects to France’s most well-known sparkling wine, Champagne. While the word “Champagne” has an easy familiarity to most Americans and typically brings instant smiles of recognition, Franciacorta is not an instantly recognizable name for most Americans.

Also like Champagne, the name “Franciacorta” identifies both a territory and a sparkling wine. The Franciacorta appellation is a relatively small wine district of low rolling hills located in the Lombardy region in north-central Italy. The region consists of the area from the southern shore of Lake Iseo south to the city of Brescia. In 1995 the Franciacorta region was awarded the coveted DOCG appellation.

Franciacorta wines are made by the classic method of Champagne called methode champenoise in which a second fermentation takes place in individual bottles as opposed to large tanks as does, for example, Prosecco. Franciacorta wines are dry, complex and elegant sparkling wines that, like Champagne, can be served on any number of occasions and accompany a wide variety of foods. They needn’t be reserved for just special occasions - almost any occasion will do.

Villa Crespia is owned by the Fratelli Muratori group, one of Italy’s largest wine consortiums. The Fratelli Muratori group owns three other wine-producing estates located in Tuscany, Campania and the island of Ischia. Each winery produces traditional wines of their respective areas. Located in the heart of the Franciacorta appellation, Villa Crespia produces only (sparkling) Franciacorta wines. Villa Crespia is the company’s flagship winery and also serves as the company’s corporate headquarters.

Villa Crespia is located in the small town of Adro which is approximately 5 miles south of Lake Iseo and just below the town of Corte Franca after which the Franciacorta region is named. The winery has approximately 148 acres of vineyards in six different areas of Franciacorta and produces a variety of sparkling wines at all price points. Novalia is the estate’s entry-level Franciacorta wine but in this case second label doesn’t mean second rate.

Made entirely with Chardonnay grapes, the Novalia undergoes primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is bottled and spends NV Villa Crespia Novalia Brut Franciacorta24 months ageing in the bottle while it also undergoes a second fermentation.

The Novalia has appealing lime, citrus and bread-crumb aromas and crisp, effervescent, mouth-filling green apple and citrus flavors. The crisp, intense flavors are balanced with good alcohol and acidity which makes this sparkler the wine of choice to accompany any seafood or vegetable appetizers as well light pasta, fish and risotto dishes, especially risotto with shrimp.

Franciacorta wines can be expensive. The Villa Crespia “Novalia”, however, is very reasonably priced and a great buy on a value-to-price basis.


©Richard Marcis
February 25, 2013

To view other wine of the month selections, see Monthly Wine Reviews
To view reviews of other Franciacorta wines, see Sparkling Wines

Copyright 2008-2016, Richard Marcis. All rights reserved.