One of Franciacorta’s founding estates and the most established of its organic producers, Barone Pizzini makes my list not for their flair but for their polish. Want to understand the charms of Franciacorta, Italy’s closest rival to Champagne? Start with these wines.
Look for the non-vintage “Animante” Franciacorta Extra Brut for starters: no other sparkling wine appellation in Europe requires longer lees time for non-vintage wines than Franciacorta, and “Animante” shows why. It is all at once crisp yet rich, subtle yet pronounced. Often, my favorite Franciacorta wines are from the Satèn category, whereby the final wine has a lower pressure and silkier texture (thus the name). Barone Pizzini’s Franciacorta Satèn is particularly acute: refined and mouth-watering, with distinctive baking spice edges to keep things interesting. Perhaps their best wine is the luscious Franciacorta Rosé, where the glacial origins of Franciacorta’s soil seem to show up the most, with lingering minerality on its salty-like finish. It is the kind of sparkler that makes you want to renew your wedding vows.
The winery also owns Pievalta in Castelli di Jesi, which makes sumptuous Verdicchio wines, as well as Poderi di Ghiaccioforte in Maremma, the latter of which I have not sampled. (This listing pertains only to Barone Pizzini’s sparkling wines from Franciacorta).
…And Why They Stand Out
This is one of the very few sparkling wine houses I’ve encountered in Italy to give the top houses in Champagne a run for their money. There’s nothing new about the formula — no clever stylistic trick or even superior vineyard holding to point to — but perhaps that’s exactly the point. The comforts of these wines are as simple as they are deep and profound. Other Franciacorta wineries have also reached dizzying heights with their wines, but I’ve found Barone Pizzini’s to be the most consistent. If there is a house style, it leans towards richness and complexity, a trait best observed with the Franciacorta Rosé.
The estate also boasts the right amount of certifications: for organic with Valoritalia as well as maintaining biodiversity through the Biodiversity Friend certification.
Visiting Barone Pizzini
The tours and tastings at Barone Pizzini are more like a California winery visit than the standard Italian fare. As in, it’s actually a scripted tour. Still, you need to reserve in advance.