Monday, October 9, 2017

Nino Franco Continues Legacy Of Premiere Prosecco In Italy’s Valdobbiadene Region

You may be familiar with Italy’s bubbly treat: Prosecco. But did you know that there is a level of high quality beyond what you usually experience? Pop a cork and read on…

Prosecco A Popular Choice

We’ve been fans of Prosecco for a long time. The main reasons are the delicious taste and a cost much lower, in general, than Champagne. You get to rock the bubbles without going broke. We had a chance to sample the Prosecco of Nino Franco during the Wine Studio educational program.

Prosecco, the sparkling wine specialty of the Veneto region of Italy, is made by a different process than Champagne. Carbon dioxide gas is a natural byproduct of fermentation. Most sparkling wine undergoes a second fermentation to create the bubbly beverage. For Champagne, the second fermentation is in the bottle. Prosecco uses the Charmat method whereby the second fermentation happens in a pressurized tank. Numerous high quality sparkling wines are made with this method.

Stepping Up In Quality

In Italy, the peak of wine quality is the DOCG label. This is Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, whereby you have a whole lot of people watching your back. The higher level classification is not only controlled, but the quality guaranteed. What I didn't’ realize until our Nino Franco tasting, was the immense step up in quality DOCG Prosecco represents.

The Nino Franco winery traces its roots to 1919 when Antonio Franco founded the “Cantine Franco” winery in Valdobbiadene. Valdobbiadene is located at the foot of the Prealps, in the Venetian region, and is famous for the Prosecco vine and wine production. Nino Franco is one of the oldest wineries in the Valdobbiadene.

We had the opportunity to sample an outstanding range of wines:
  • Nino Franco Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, SRP $27
  • Nino Franco Prosecco Rustico Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG, SRP $19
  • Nino Franco Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2016, SRP $29
  • Nino Franco Grave di Stecca Brut Sparkling 2010, SRP $49

Popping The Cork On Nino Franco

Leading off our exploration of Nino Franco was the Prosecco Brut Superiore. The Glera grapes for Prosecco Superiore are grown on the wild, steep hills in Valdobbiadene, as contrasted with non-Superiore Prosecco which comes from low-lying valleys. Terroir does make a difference as the quality upgrade was noticeable on the first frothy sip. This wine has crisp apple flavors with bubbles that stream and disappear quickly.

The Rustico name is connected to the old local tradition of making wine with a short second fermentation and leaving sediment in the wine. That’s no longer the technique, but the name remains. Rustico has a nice creamy froth and a balanced flavors. Like the Brut, this has an 11% alcohol content.

We continued to climb the quality ladder with the Primo Franco Prosecco Superiore 2016. “Under the hood” I got a surprise. The wine is sealed with a metal clasp called an agrafe. After a few minutes of puzzlement I pried the agrafe off with a knife – nothing could stop me from the prize! This bottle offered wave after wave of perlage (those wonderful bubbles) and had a creamy foam. This was savory and nutty adding to a delightful sipping experience.

The pinnacle of our tasting was the Grave di Stecca 2010. To add to the allure, this is packaged in a yellow cellophane wrap. Unwrapping it built the anticipation. This Prosecco stood alone in the quartet we tried. The seven years of aging ratcheted up the complexity. The bouquet combines fresh fruit and herbs.

In the glass, the Grave di Stecca offers a minerally flavor with some chalkiness. It has additional aging on the lees (the dead yeast cells) and that adds wonderful savory notes. On the palate it is remarkably smooth. It was a golden experience to be sure.

Nino Franco Prosecco has received a multitude of awards and it is easy to see why. Each bottle was crafted to produce a delicious experience. The pricing is such that opening a bottle doesn’t need to wait for a special occasion. Even the highest priced bottle we enjoyed is under $50. We highly recommend the wines of Nino Franco and want to nudge you to step up from the basic Prosecco to the DOCG Prosecco Superiore of Valdobbiadene.

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