Franciacorta and Friuli, These two words have long occupied a space on my list of desired wine places to explore more, living as I do in the North of Italy.
So the European Wine bloggers conference provided the perfect occasion to do exactly that as I gathered to once again meet up with old friends from across Europe and indeed the world, to share wines and stories.
It was a feast for all the senses and the top Franciacorta sparkling royalty of wines were all out for us to taste.
The two hundred and fifty or so participants of #EWBC, then split into four teams and we each visited a Franciacorta winery for dinner. As luck would have it, my secret destination took me to Villa Franciacorta, a sparkling wine I have met on many occasions over the years at weddings and banquets in Italy.
The winery tour was facinating and the stategic location of the estate and what it offers in terms of apartments and experiences for wine travel, are superb.
This estate produces; along with other top producers like Ca del Bosco, il Mosnel, la Valle and many others, top class whites of the sparkling variety, but more recently, complex whites and quality reds of no small renown.
And So it was that we found ourselves at dinner in the gracious restored villa........
A menu that included.
and homemade icecream with peaches in olive oil.
It was a menu to ponder over and discuss, and we did.
I found the spigola fish burger to be succulent and well-matched with Villa's Rose Brut 2007 Franciacorta.
The estate which carefully produces 750,000 bottles each year of that precious stuff, is in the hands of the Bianchi family our charming hosts, as it has been scince 1960 when Sandro Bianchi, followed by Alessandro Bianchi, made some pioneering moves to put Franciacorta on the map. The estate covers 2700mq on the Gradoni hill . The houses, winery apartments, buildings, and restaurant of the" Villa" compound practically makes up its own small village.
Maurizio Zanella the president (below) of the FranciaCorta Consorzio, spoke to me of the work that is done annually by the producers to bring the Franciacorta name to the world stage.
By now I guess youre wondering about the Friuli visit, well yes thats coming up next so watch this space.... and follow along on my great trip to the winemakers of that eastern corner. Bastianich and Valentino Butussi who showed me the splendors of the Friuli cusine and their award winning wines.