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Friday, October 3, 2014

Italy’s Premier Bubbly

I remember the exact moment when my love affair with Ca Del Bosco began----which is saying something as it was 20 years ago.  I was at a two star Michelin restaurant on the Amalfi Coast and my dining companion and I were served a flute of sparkling wine while we were contemplating the menu.  The bubbly was divine.  When the waiter returned to take our order I learned that the wine was Italian, made by Ca Del Bosco.  I was so impressed that I ordered a bottle of Ca Del Bosco’s still Chardonnay, and fell in love all over again.

From this night forward, I have been a raving fan of Ca Del Bosco.  I’ve taken two groups to visit the winery, located between Milan and Venice in a wine district called Franciacorta.  I’ve ordered too-many-cases-to-count over the years…thankfully, Ca Del Bosco is readily available in the U.S.   Furthermore, the story of how the winery came about is a charming one.

Maurizio Zanella was a precocious Italian teenager during the 1970’s.  Once he graduated from high school, his well-connected family sent their son to Champagne to work in the vineyards…they were hoping that changing his environment and friends might set him on a better path.  It worked.  Maurizio developed a love for wine-making, straightened out, and returned to Italy with a fervor for replicating Champagne in northern Italy.  Coincidentally, the Zanella family just happened to own a farm in the woods where grapes were being grown nearby.  As they say, the rest is history.

The young Zanella took over the farm and its small house, planted vines and began his quest to produce the best bubbly in Italy.  He has achieved that and more.  Ca Del Bosco (which translates to “house in the woods”), is one of the most successful wine-making estates in Italy.   Moreover, Zanella has now become President of the vintners association.

My final connection with Ca Del Bosco came in Sicily in 2008 when I brought a Wine-Knows group to the private villa of Count Marzotto for three days.  Count Marzotto (who owns a group of mover and shaker companies such as Missoni and Valentino, along with several wineries on the mainland), flew down in his private jet to meet the group.  I was stunned when he served Ca Del Bosco as a sparkling aperitivo.    When I spoke with the Count, I learned that he had just bought a large share in Ca del Bosco, however, Maurizio Zanella remains the winery’s CEO.

If you haven’t tried Ca Del Bosco, you should.  Look for it online or in a high-end wine store.  While the winery makes several sparklers, my favorites are the Annamaria Clementi Cuvée and the Dosage Zero.   That being said, their non-bubbly Chardonnay is also lovely.   And, if you're one of the fortunate persons coming on the sold out trip to Sicily this October, you'll be staying for 3 nights on Count Marzotto's estate.

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