"The happiest people don't have the best of everything. . . They just drink wine." Tanya Masse
Finally, I decided to have a discussion with the waiter about my wine preferences and what I did not like about the wine we chose two nights before. At this point, he recommended a Bellavista Alma Cuvee Brut Franciacorta. I knew this was from a large, established winery that is often listed among those to visit, so I agreed to try the Bellavista. As the waiter opened the bottle and poured a taste into the glass, I was anxious. I watched the happy perlage and admired the beautiful pale straw yellow color. And I hesitated before I picked the glass up to taste. Did I choose wisely?
I inhaled the scent of peaches and citrus. The wine exuded a freshness with no hint of barrique in the nose. I was enthused as I took the first sip. And then I smiled and thanked the waiter for a perfect selection. The Bellavista Alma Cuvee Brut was a beautiful, fresh wine. On the palate it was delicate with a bright fruitiness, but this feature was well balanced with a good minerality and depth of character. The wine derives its balance in part from a blending of at least thirty selections and the addition of some aged wine ensuring a consistency in the vintage from year to year. It is made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pino Bianco and Pinot Nero. For those who trust such things, Robert Parker gave it 91 points and said "I loved it." And Wine Enthusiast gave it 90 points and liked its "cheerful personality".
I was so enthused about the Bellavista Franciacorta that the next morning as we were packing our suitcases in preparation for the journey back to the Marche, I searched the internet to find the location of the Bellavista Winery. It was sort of on our way to the autostrada. So, I suggested this little detour to Jim. He readily agreed, and inserted the location into the GPS. Now, checked out of the hotel, bags in the car, seat belts fastened, we headed out of the parking lot in search of Bellavista.
Well, I want to say that we were foiled again by the GPS, but Jim assures me it was human error this time. Sitting in the back with Luca, I am not really able to judge. All I know is that we were heading through a tunnel. Then we went through a second tunnel. At this point in time Jim realized that the GPS was suggesting we turn around which was virtually impossible on the road with so many tunnels. Finally we found an exit ramp and took it. Interestingly, we seemed to be around the same area where we were lost on our arrival to Lake Iseo three days before. Heading down the narrow and windy road, we finally found a spot wide enough, and with sufficient visibility, to turn around. Then back up the road we went heading back to the tunnel road. After a trip through the two tunnels again, we exited and found ourselves in the place where we had started. So, once again, we traversed the round-about and somehow we were going through the same two tunnels again.
As we made our way back to where we started (this is now our fourth trip through these same tunnels), I suggested that we forget going to the winery and just follow signs to Brescia where we could pick up the autostrada. Pursuing this strategy, we quickly saw signs for a town that I knew was very close to the Bellavista. And, the GPS, still set to take us to there, suggested that we exit. After a moment's hesitation, Jim took the turn off. 20 minutes later, the GPS indicated that we were very close to the winery. As we made a right turn from the main road, we found ourselves passing the entrance to Ca Del Bosco. I was sure this could not be correct, but we continued driving up a narrow road that gave the appearance of going nowhere. Eventually, Jim saw a sign for Bellavista, and we turned left. Now, again, it was the lunch hour, so we had little faith that we would actually get to taste wines, but perhaps we could buy some to take home. As the car finally reached a gate, obviously to a winery, Jim pulled in. I am asking, "Jim, why are you stopping here? This is not the winery?" He replied, "I know. But at least we can stop here and taste some wine."
While Jim gave Luca a little walk, I entered the cantina. Greeted by a young man, I asked if we could taste some wine. His first response was that the winery was closing for lunch, and we could return at 2:30. I told him we couldn't come back in the afternoon because we were on our way to the autostrada to return to Le Marche. Just then, Jim and Luca arrived. When the gentleman saw Luca, he looked again at his watch and decided that we had time for one taste.
We were seated at an outdoor table, where he apprised us of the wines being served. I picked the Solive Pas Dosé, and Jim chose the Rosé because we wanted to try something different than the bruts we had been tasting. A few minutes later, a platter of wonderful prosciutto and cheese arrived along with two glasses. After pouring the wine, our host bent down and started fawning over Luca. For me, this confirmed my earlier suspicion that we were permitted to stay and taste wines because Luca was with us. He is very often a door opener and a conversation starter. We were very happy that Luca was so welcome here, and after a false start, we too felt welcome.
Following are my thoughts on the tasting of the three Solive wines.
My favorite was the Solive Franciacorta DOCG Pas Dosé, a wine made without the addition of the liqueur d'expedition. This wine is made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Nero. It undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle for 30 months. I was enthused from the moment I saw the wine enter the glass. Its light straw color and lively perlage called to me as I drank in the scent of fruits and pastry. The palate is mature but still fresh with a well balanced acidity. This wine holds up well with the strong taste of parmiggiano and would do well not only with poultry dishes but veal and pork dishes also.
The Franciacorta DOCG Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Nero which undergoes a 24 month second fermentation in the bottle. In the glass it is a beautiful pastel color combining hues of peach and rose. The color is achieved by leaving the skin in contact with the must for 12 to 24 hours. Like the Pas Dose, the Rose has a lively perlage, but here the nose is intense with red fruits and bread crust. The taste is robust combining the fruitiness and depth of the Pinot Nero with bread crusts, a change after all of the white grape wines we have been tasting. For me, it was my least favorite of the three wines, probably because I am predominantly a white wine drinker with an occasional taste of rose. But for Pinot Nero lovers, it is possibly a wine you will love.
As we entered the roadway, I was confident that I would return to Lombardy one day and taste more of the sparkling wines in Franciacorta. But, for now, I bid, Arrivederci, Franciacorta.