Haute Wines: Bellavista, the Ultimate Italian Sparkler

That’s it! 2010 has come and gone and with the new year upon us, it seems only natural that we pop it off with bottle after bottle of Champagne.

But wait, we’ve mentioned in the past that there is a recurring misnomer of what Chamapagne really is. As the adage goes, “Champagne is definitely sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.” Specifically, Champagne is sparkling wine from the Champagne region in France made in the “methode traditionelle” using chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. Never the less, there is plenty of great sparkling wine made outside of Champagne.

In an effort to highlight other sparklers from around the world, this week’s Haute Wines hat goes off to the king of Italian bubbles, Franciacorta. Just like Champagne, Franciacorta is a region in Italy, Lombardi to be precise; it utilizes three grapes – pinot bianco, chardonnay and pinot nero; and is made in the traditional method. Unlike its trendier and more famous cousin prosecco, Franciacorta won’t be found in your local grocery store shelf at $10 a pop. On the contrary, it embodies quality, grace, style and even a bit of mystique as it isn’t readily available in most markets; even some of the largest of producers have a difficult time keeping up with its demand as yields are so low.

Arguably one of the best producers of Franciacorta is Bellavista. A fairly new winery, they have little wine making tradition, but they produce a bevy of of impeccably fabulous sparkling wines. Under the deft hand of Mattia Vezzola as winemaker and estate manager, organic farming practices, intense nurturing, ridiculously low yields and a deep respect for time create wines that stand up to the the finest of Champagnes.

Cin! Cin! to Bellavista on the close of this year. Here’s to you for being fantastically breathtaking…and for not being Champagne.

Cheers! to all of Haute Wines’s loyal readers. Happy New Year! Surely 2011 will bring even greater marvels from the wine world.

Bellavista, Vittorio Moretti, Extra Brut Riserva, 2002, $250 – A warm and toasty bedazzler, this wine has only been made but a handful of times and only in impeccable years. It spends 7 years on the lees developing and cultivating deep, unrestrained flavors of buttered biscuits, brandied peaches, ripe apricots and flowers. Vittorio Moretti’s eponymously named wine is opulent and exaggerated; could it be an apt interpretation of his very own persona? Possibly.

Bellavista Gran Cuvee Rose Brut, 2004, $85 – The Cuvee Rose is simply stunning! This light salmon sparkler is a proprietary blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay loaded with red fruit like tart strawberries, freshly muddled raspberries and snappy cherries, as well as a slight yeastiness reminiscent of freshly baked croissants. Full, expansive and possessing a long finish.

Bellavista Brut, NV, $55 – Bellavista’s house style exhibits sheer elegance. Aromas of fresh baked bread, white flowers, goose berries, summer ripened peaches and lemon peel waft up the glass and the elegant perlage barely prickles the tongue. It is fresh, rich and everlasting.