Smoked Salmon and Sparkle
A match made in Italy by Rhona Cullinane
With a love affair for Italy stretching back twenty five years, the joy of still discovering breathtakingly beautiful regions gets my heart racing. So it was a real delight to spend time there recently – in a region that lies just over an hour east of Milan, protected by mountains to the North, rich in verdant rolling hills and refreshed by the stunning Lake Iseo.
Hidden there is a wine secret to which the world is only beginning to open its eyes. Franciacorta DOCG is a traditional – method (or méthode champenoise) sparkling wine, made from the recognisable international grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and some Pinot Bianco. To this extent, it shares many similarities with its French sparkling counterpart but incredibly, it has a far more rigorous production method yielding only 15 million bottles a year from the 100+ wineries in the region. Its profile feels familiar but with a unique and distinctive ‘made in Italy’ stamp.
At 1701 Franciacorta winery, the passion to express this individuality and terroir is taken a step further by owners Silvia and Federico Stefini who follow biodynamic principles – the first and only winery in the Franciacorta region to be certified biodynamic and organic. The history of winemaking there goes back to the year 1701 – hence the name. A noble Italian family – descendants of whom still live in the Villa – began producing wine in a vineyard framed by 11th century walls. This beautiful setting remains home to the winery today.
Losing myself in a refreshing glass of 1701 Satèn, made from 100% Chardonnay, whilst enjoying a plate of local carpaccio of seabass, I couldn’t wait to bring some home. And what a perfect match I discovered when tasting with Frank’s wild smoked salmon. They complemented each other incredibly well – the flavoursome creaminess of the salmon given a wonderful mineral edge by the Satèn. What became clear is the importance both unique producers, in Ireland and Italy, place on the raw material – intervening only to make it truly shine. My guess is that neither of them will be a secret for much longer!
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