Above: The Bonomi is one of two Franciacorta wines on the list at Al Fico, a newly opened Italian restaurant in Austin, Texas.
On Monday night of this week, I ate dinner at the newly opened Al Fico in Austin, Texas. It’s the latest entry into the city’s crowded field of recently christened Italian restaurants (Olive & June and Italic are other high-profile Italian concepts that launched there this year and there many others).
The restaurant was conceived by the owners of one of Austin’s favorite wine bars, Vino Vino, as an “authentic Italian fine dining experience, featuring housemade pastas and wood-fired Roman-style pizza.”
(Full disclosure: I am the restaurant group’s media manager and curator of their blogs and social media channels.)
It has not one but two Franciacorta wines on its all-Italian list.
And one of the wines is by-the-glass, a rosé, a wine that wine director Tom King told me sells like hotcakes.
I’ll never forget owner Jeff Courington, who’s always keen to taste and talk Italian wine, tell me that he’d never tasted a Franciacorta that he didn’t like.
These details may seem insignificant but they strike me as signs that Franciacorta has entered into the lexicon of Italian wine among wine professionals here in the state of Texas.
Of course, he writes all the time about Texas! I can hear you sigh. It’s true. I’m a Texan and proud of it.
But I also believe that Texas is a good gauge for the Italian wine market in the U.S. outside the major American wine cities like New York and San Francisco.
And I am convinced that Texans have a thirst for Franciacorta wines, in part because I think the wines align well with the Texan enogastronomic lifestyle.
But I also believe that because Texas is an emerging market for fine wine in the U.S., the youth culture of wine here is thirsty for new and emerging categories like Franciacorta. Texas had its Greek wine moment, for example, like the rest of the country. But young Texan wine professionals are also looking for “the next big thing” that they can co-opt as their own. And Franciacorta, while becoming increasingly popular in New York, has yet to conquer any of the other big markets here.
Just the other day I learned of a high-concept low-brow barbecue restaurant in San Antonio, the Granary ‘Cue & Brew, where the only dry sparkling wine by-the-glass is a Franciacorta.
That’s pretty remarkable, if you ask me. Not a Prosecco, not a Champagne, not a pet nat from some funky-assed Californian producer. No, a Franciacorta!
If you don’t believe me, please come see for yourself (I’ll take you myself to San Antonio if you can make it to Houston).
Franciacorta producers, Texas — one of the richest and fastest-growing markets in the U.S. — is an exciting wild west for Italian wine in general and Franciacorta in particular. I can’t encourage you enough to come here. There’s an oil rush out here and your liquid is gold.