The Wine Curmudgeon has never been able to figure out Italian sparkling wine, all those Proseccos and Astis, despite Herculean efforts from people like the Italian Wine Guy. And if those wines baffle me, you can imagine what I think of the newish sparkling moscatos, many of which are made with all the finesse of a 7-Eleven Slurpee.
Not all sparkling wine needs to taste like Champagne (long live cava!), but I appreciate the Champagne structure and style – firm, tight bubbles; a clean, long taste; and the balance between acidity and fruit.
That’s what makes the Castaldi ($21, sample, 12.5%) different from other Italian sparkling wines. It’s made with a couple of Champagne grapes (mostly chardonnay) and made using the Champagne method. The Franciacorta region, near the Swiss border, is the only area in the country where this is done.
And, as with well-made sparkling wine from Spain and elsewhere, it uses those techniques to make a terroir-driven wine. The Castaldi tastes like it comes from Italy -- crisp, small bubbles and a bit of clean apple fruit that’s not a Champagne knockoff that oozes of caramel. Excellently done and much better than I expected.
This is Mother’s Day wine, whether for brunch on Sunday or to toast Mom for another year well done.
More about Mother's Day wine:
• Mother's Day wine 2013
• Mother's Day wine 2012
• Mother's Day wine 2011
• Wine of the week: Domaine du Tariquet Classic 2011
• Wine of the week: Casteller Brut Rose NV