If you like your champagne to be dry and crisp you would love the Berlucchi Cesarius Pas DosÃ© 2006, a higher-ended Franciacorta bubbly with zero sugar dosage - my favourite style for drinking on its own or with oysters. But to see if it could match with dinner as well, I called upon my Italian friend Tarsillo Nataloni who owns the trattoria-Flavors in Delhi, where the food is delicious and reasonable and the age group of the clients young.
Cellarius Brut Pas Dose 2006 is a Vintage sparkling wine made by the oldest Franciacorta sparkling wine producing winery Guido Berlucchi -primarily from Chardonnay (80%), with a touch of the local Pinot Bianco (5%) and the balance being Pinot Noir (15%). The intense bubbly with shades of greenish yellow has good effervescence with fine and persistent mousse.
As we opened the bottle, the nose had a clean and fairly intense pleasing aroma with hints of bouquet of citrus and grapefruit. On the palate it was crispy and dry with zingy citrus flavours with dancing bubbles. Pas DosÃ© means no sugar dosage is added and the sugar is less than I gm/lit and feels as such on the mouth. With the sbbocatura (disgorgement) in 2011 the finish was nice and quite crisp and persistent. Produced with the classical champagne method of second fermentation in the bottle and a part of reserve wine produced in barriques has given it elegance that one finds in champagne.
Nataloni is originally from Puglia which I visited for the third time recently and each time I am impressed by the simplicity but delicious flavours of its food. It was natural for him to start the evening with Panzerotti- different types of fried fritters-like savouries that are extremely popular in Puglia. Pockets stuffed with Spinach, Onion, Green Chilli and arancini-rice balls were delicious bites but unfortunately too greasy for the dry bubbly.
Whole wheat focaccia with onions was the next dish, looking and tasting like a pizza bianca but with lots of slightly caramelized onions on top. Simple yet delicious-Tarsillo said there was no cheese but only a dash of olive and sea salt. The focaccia would be a delicious Anti Pasto that danced with the dry bubbly on the palate-I could have had the whole bottle with this or the next dish, a whole-wheat pizza-like dish with zucchini and aubergines and a touch of tomato paste on the base.
Baked elbow pasta with mock Bolognese ragout is on the Menu at Flavors for the vegetarians who love the real thing but cannot take meat for whatever reason. Unfortunately, the texture and the appearance give away easily to the naked eye as a pedestrian though it did match the Franciacorta quite well.
While we were waiting for the chicken risotto, a regular pleaser at the restaurant, Tarsillo kept wondering if there was some alcohol in the sparkler. At 12.5% the wine feels so light and easy on the palate that one does not realize that it has the normal level of alcohol for a Franciacorta (or even champagne) or that it is popping out of the ice bucket faster than you would like it to.Â By the time one declared that it matched the chicken risotto perfectly for the Primo Piatto, the bubbly had evaporated from the bottle and we could not find out how it would have handled the chicken or fish which would be a natural mate for it- steamed, poached or grilled but not necessarily the fried version.
We wonâ€™t really find out until someone imports the delicious wine that will impress many an evolved palate used to drinking only champagne. Perhaps the Brut version would be more popular and go further in a multi-course dinner, I concluded.
For an article on Franciacorta, please visit Franciacorta- Italy's Answer to Champagne
Guido Berlucchi Cesarius Pas DosÃ© 2006 is available at the Milan DUFRY at â‚¬25. Its blushing cousin, Ma x Rose (in the pic above) sells for â‚¬21. A beautiful pair to bring home on your next visit to Milan if you love champagne and feel the difference- editor
Tags: Berlucchi Cesarius, Franciacorta,Cellarius Brut, Tarsillo Nataloni,
greenish yellow, disgorgement, disgorgement, Puglia,
Panzerotti, arancini, focaccia, zucchini, aubergines,
mock Bolognese, risotto, Guido Berlucchi, Primo Piatto