Ricci Curbastro Sparkling Wines: Innovation Becomes Tradition

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Dr. Riccardo Ricci Curbastro leading the Quality Italian Wines and Franciacorta Seminar at Simply Italian Great Wines US Tour 2014 New York. Image courtesy of Ricci Curbastro Azienda Agricola.

I had the pleasure of attending an enlightening seminar given by the incredibly interesting and multifarious Dr. Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, who is the owner, Managing Director and head of marketing of Ricci Curbastro Farm Estate Winery located in Lombardy, northern Italy. In addition to explaining the numerous safeguarding components of Federoc [National Confederation for Voluntary Consortia for the oversight of the Denominations of Origin], he passionately described his distinctive sparkling wines and progressive, unique estate.

The Franciacorta region [‘free courts’] takes its name from the 11th century winery French monks from Cluny had there and refers to the fact that the land and monks were free from Italian authority. Regarded as Italy’s best sparkling wines, Franciacorta received DOC status in 1967, followed by DOCG in 1995. Non-vintage wines are aged for 18 months, Rosé and Satèn wines for 24 months, vintage wines are 30 months, and Riserva wines are aged for an astounding 60 months.

The Curbastro family has been farming the estate since the 13th century. Close to the Alps, ancient glaciers left the valley soil rich in minerals. The estate consists of 32 hectares, 27.5 of which are vineyards. With such a remarkable history they consider the land as “a gift from our fathers”, and therefore do not use any chemicals or fertilizers. Their carbon neutral initiatives are incredibly progressive, so much so that their carbon footprint is under zero. In addition to producing all of their own electricity, all facets of every process has been proactively examined and transformed. Lubricants for tractors, renewal of barrels, office supplies, bottles, labels, pallets, even the flight from Italy to NY is included in the evaluation and rating.

Dr. Riccardo Ricci Curbastro is renowned for his pioneering work regarding the role of yeast and amino acids in wine production. Through cutting edge experimentation he has been able to replace sulphur with amino acids from extract yeast. The amino acids act as an antioxidant and protective component, entirely eliminating the need for sulphur. For detailed information on his work and the role of amino acids, please see click here.

He so eloquently summarized his family’s history along with the pioneering technological advances as “innovation becomes tradition”. As to be expected, his wines are a reflection of this synthesis, displaying complexity and refinement.

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Top left: Brut NV, top right: Satèn Brut 2010, bottom left: Rosé Brut NV

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Brut NV
Straw yellow in colour with aromas of white flowers, pear and peach. Well structured with light fruit notes harmonizing with nutmeg and honey notes, culminating in a lengthy dry finish. Dr. Curbastro recommends enjoying this as an apertivo, yet it can also carry thru the entire meal.
60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Bianco, 10% Pinot Nero
12.5% Alcohol
$40 [average price]

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Satèn Brut 2010
My personal favourite, with intricate notes of lemon, peach, fresh bread and floral hints that harmonized with consistent, delicate bubbles. The incredibly light, crisp finish makes this fantastic with any dish.
100% Chardonnay
12.5% Alcohol
$45 [average price]

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Rosé Brut NV
Pale coral pink in colour with compelling aromas of honeycomb and rose. Delicate red berries, honey and herbaceous hints raced along a backdrop of silky bubbles, whilst lightly sweet notes evaporated in the dry, cleansing finish. Elegant, versatile and wonderfully easy drinking, Dr. Curbastro refers to this as “a summer tuxedo”.
80% Pinot Nero, 20% Chardonnay
12.5% Alcohol
$52 [average price]

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