Blind tasting, days ago at home. My glass is mid filled with a white sparkling wine with small bubbles and faint-hearted pearl-like strings. Is it really Champagne? Appearance is bright and clear but colour is gold and not lemon-green such as young Chardonnay Champagne … so, colour is an intense gold but without copper hints. It could be an old Pinot noir Champagne with grapes coming from Ay, Tour s/Marne or bouzy for example or a sparkling aged bad in some cellars. So, I immediatly check the nose and I felt strange floral scent of Muscat mixed with butter, patissière cream, dry bread and honey scents. Does it a special “dosage” whcih gives this style? For sure, it is a traditional method having in the glass different autolytic scents. Actually, this wine unhinges me and I wonder if it is a tired Champagne at the end of its life, aged and mature, or another sparkling from a hot region.
I decided to taste it and my first feeling was oriented on Chardonnay for the bitter finish but not for the freshness and elegance. Palate is dry and very clean. Dosage doesn’t cope with this wine and with these first remarks this wine seemed to me a non-dosé cape classique from South Africa even if the vegetal taste made me thinking also to a Northern Italian sparkling wine such as Franciacorta or Trentodoc (even if the lack of freshness told me more to move in the Franciacorta area). Moreover, the Muscat scent after some time remained persistent and Chardonnay in Cape Classique delivers generally the structure and the classical elegance and freshness.
I oriented so my exploring towards Northern-Italy and especially Franciacorta DOCG and I considered that, even if Chardonnay is a variety with a very low concentrations of terpenes (tipically highest in the Muscat varieties), climate has a strong influence and ageing too. Heat summation is probably higher than in the Champagne area (below 1370 GDD). Franciacorta has a climate very different of California but may be closer to south west France or Rhone.
It was actually a Franciacorta DOCG Nature 2005 for which I don’t want to reveil the name. Many Italians continue to compare Champagne with spumante, looking for also to demonstrate that the latter is superior and it has no sense! Does it really bad? … I don’t think so. Spumante have a personality and style and it is a good news. In my view, this wine was an outstanding sparkling wine with a strong Franciacorta style to pair absolutely with Italian cuisine and cheese. So, don’t miss Franciacorta! … and always keep in mind that: “Il n’y a de Champagne que de la Champagne”!