It was an opportune day when attending the well-known Franciacorta producer, Ca’ del Bosco luncheon at Spago. This was a luncheon about friendship and wine. It became obvious when Wolfgang Puck dines at our table, that he and Maurizio Zanella are long-time friends who have shared many wonderful experiences over Maurizio’s wine and Wolfgang’s cuisine.
I strive to discern what makes a winery different. Are they cutting edge or are they traditionalists? In the case of Ca’ del Bosco, they are both. They are cutting edge by the way they handle the grapes. What makes the winery unique is Ca’ del Bosco gently washes all the grapes. Maurizio calls it a “berry spa or a hydro spa.” This method of washing is patented. It creates a very clean wine. This was quite evident in the Chardonnay.
The winery located in the Lombardy region of Italy is primarily known for Franciacorta. Ca’ Del Bosco also makes still wines that are excellent. Franciacorta was one of the first appellations in Italy to receive DOC status and that occurred in 1967. In 1995 the region became a DOCG. For Italy Franciacorta designates a region and style, much like Champagne does in France.
Not only does the terroir permeate the wines but also the winery practices organic farming. One of the organic materials used in the vineyard is copper; hence the reason for washing the grapes. The vineyards are densely planted 10,000 per hectare.
The primary grapes grown in Franciacorta are Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero. In addition Ca’ del Bosco grows Sauvignon Bianco, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Carmenére, Barbara and Nebbiolo.
It is obvious that Maurizio tremendous passion and respect for his land. His love started at a young age, over 40-years ago. It really began in the 1960s after his mother purchased a hillside house called Ca’ del bosc. Little did Maurizio know that this small house would become his life achievement. Embracing and following his own path he created his interpretation of Franciacorta known as “Metodo Ca’ del Bosco.”
We started our luncheon with an aperitif, the 2009 Franciacorta Vintage Collection Brut. This is a bright Franciacorta that displays aromas of Brioche mixed with citrus.
Our luncheon began with an Akaushi Beef Carpaccio, Pickled Mustard Seed, Smokey Blue Cheese, and Pine Nuts. This course complemented the Franciacorta Riserva Annamaria Clementi 2007. This Franciacorta is dedicated to Maurizio’s mother who founded the winery. The wine also blends Chardonnay with Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero. The wine sits at least 7 years on the yeasts and my favorite of the Franciacorta. It was balanced and refreshing.
The wine that really impressed me was the 2011 Chardonnay. Ca’ del Bosco was one of the first to make Chardonnay over 40 years ago. The quality of this Chardonnay was superb. The wine leans towards a Burgundian style but is more rounded with flavors of apples and pears. It is quite evident that washing of the grapes plays a vital role in the quality of the wine. This wine paired with Squid Ink Garganelli Seafood “Frutti di Mare”.
Our entrée consisted of Roasted Lamb Rack Caramelized Cauliflower, Cauliflower Puree, Toasted Almond, Sauce “Mole. The lamb was done to perfection and paired with a Maurizio Zanella 2009. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The wine for its age was still very young and has tremendous holding power. Although there was a smaller percentage of Cabernet Franc, its character with woody and green flavors was quite prominent.
The luncheon ended with a Meyer Lemon Soufflé served with the Franciacorta Cuvée Prestige.
Finally, in the words of both Maurizio and Wolfgang, “Life is a journey with friends – Some you forget and others you hang on to over time.” The later are those friends that you occasionally enjoy a glass of wine, perhaps Ca’ del Bosco with pleasant conversation and a good meal. This sums up the relationship that Maurizio and Wolfgang have had over the years. In essence, Ca’ del Bosco is a wine you can hang onto for years to come and share in the future with friends.