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Franciacorta, Lombardia


This estate makes Italy’s finest sparkling wines from its 190 hectares of vineyard situated in the western part of the Franciacorta zone in a natural amphitheatre. The glacial soil is full of stones, and provides the ideal environment for the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes used in the production of their Franciacorta.

The property was founded when Vittorio Moretti bought the hill called ‘Bellavista’, because of its stunning view, in the early 1970s. His grandfather had farmed in Franciacorta, where Moretti was born, and after making his money in construction he returned to buy this superb site. His first vintage in 1979 was made with the idea of having his own wine to drink with friends. In 1981,however, he met a young winemaker called Mattia Vezzola, who at the time was selling winery equipment. Vezzola impressed Moretti with his passion and knowledge, while Vezzola was assured that Moretti was interested only in quality.

From this meeting was born the partnership that has transformed Bellavista into Italy’s leading producer of quality sparkling wine. They take as their model Roederer Champagne, and have an approach to production that is astonishing in the way it cuts no corners. They start in the vineyard, where intervention is minimal and the approach is sustainable (lotta integrata). The base wine is made from 103 different parcels. Decisions regarding malolactic fermentation are made depending on the vintage. Forty percent of their wines are vinified in barrique, the rest in stainless steel. No new oak is used for their fizz and the wine spends 8-10 months in barrel.

In the May following the vintage, they do tastings of all the base wines to compile the blend. The wine is then bottled – there is no decanting - all halves, magnums and large bottles undergo the second fermentation in bottle. They have a team of 5 riddlers, as all the remuage is done by hand - they’ve tried giro pallets but prefer the results of hand riddling. The wines are aged on lees for a minimum of 3 years, but they’re slowly increasing this to 4 years. The reserve wine used after disgorging is an average of 6 years old, while the dosage, which varies from year to year, is about 8 grams per litre for the Cuvée, 7 grams for the Gran Cuvée and 3 grams for the other wines.

Having gone to all this effort, Moretti wanted to ensure the bottle looked good, so he had his own design produced by the Murano glass factory in Venice. It is a work of art.

The wines are fine, elegant and beautifully balanced. The Cuvée Brut is a blend of 28% Pinot Noir and 72% Chardonnay. The Gran Cuvée, a similar blend, is a vintage, and 30% of the blend was vinified and aged in oak for 7 months. The Satèn is a Blanc de Blancs, while the Rosé is made from 52% Chardonnay and 48% Pinot Noir.

Their two still wines are made solely from Chardonnay grown in single vineyards. The Convento dell’ Annunciata is still owned by the Franciscan monks. The property is rented by the Moretti family, who pay a high rent so they can do what they want in the vineyard. The Chardonnay is grown on chalky soils on the slopes of Monte Orfano, south of the zone of Franciacorta in a cooler site. It is fermented in oak, 25% of which is new. The wine has an appealing minerality with lovely balance and length. The Uccellanda is from a vineyard in Franciacorta, and so is fuller and less minerally. The quality of these two wines is outstanding, but each has its distinct character that determines its appeal.