This week’s CNN episode is Milan, the capital of northern region Lombardy (Lombardia regione). Milano, a world-renowned cosmopolitan city, is associated with commerce and fashion more than its food. But like all Italian cities there are local favorites such as veal Milanese and risotto Milanese. Their foods can’t compare to the food we saw last week, CNN episode in Bologna with world famous items like Balsamic Vinegar and Prosciutto di Parma.
Lombardia produces a small amount of wine compared to other Italian wine regions. The two wines that we see in America are the sparkling wine Franciacorta, and the Nebbiolo based red wines from Valtellina.
Franciacorta (pronounced fraan-cha-core-TA) is comparable to France’s Champagne. Both are sparkling wines made using the Champagne method (fermentation in individual bottles) and similar grape varietals – Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco. However, Franciacorta annual production is minuscule compared to Champagne – 18 million vs 300 million bottles. And the comparison is greater if you compare Franciacorta export volume at approximately 3 million bottles.
Franciacorta’s vineyards are located in an amphitheater-shaped region south of Lake Iseo which provides a warm micro-climate with cooling breezes from the Alps. A local wine-maker compares Franciacorta to cooler climate Champagnes as “more digestible than sparklers made in cooler climates. They offer great freshness in the mouth, but without the aggressive acidity that goes right to the stomach.”
Valtellina wines, though not well-known like Barolo and Barbaresco from Piemonte, are produced from Nebbiolo grapes. Valtellina vineyards are steep and mountainous vineyards in the foothills of the Alps. Sfurzato is Amarone style wine made with appasimento method, and Valtellina Superiore is highly rated 100% Nebbiolo. Nino Negri is one of few producers in Valtellina producing wine for export to America.
Cheers, Bob the WineGuy