The most amazing thing happened in December 2015 as I was working on my sparkling wine holiday roundup for the Houston Press, where I blog regularly about wine.
I had sent messages asking for their personal recommendations to all the top sommeliers in the city, which is one of the biggest markets for fine wine in the U.S. today and will soon be America’s third largest metropolitan areas.
Of the nine that responded (and many, overwhelmed by the holiday dining season, didn’t answer), two of them recommended Franciacorta. That’s more than 20 per cent of the respondents.
That may seem insignificant to some. But when you consider that Franciacorta was hardly on sommeliers’ radars even five years ago, the number is impressive.
As I prepared to file my story, I was reminded of another episode from earlier in 2015.
In October, when I visited New York for work meetings and Jancis Robinson’s presentation of the new Oxford Companion to Wine at Eataly, I stopped at the food court’s seafood bar to snack on some crudo.
I’ll be honest: When I saw the Ferrari Trento Brut by-the-glass, I was geeked to drink it.
But when I ordered a glass, the young waiter said to me, “that wine is great but have you ever tasted a Franciacorta?”
Music to my ears!
I really believe that Franciacorta’s time has come in the U.S.
A confluence of efforts by individual producers and the consortiums concert of marketing efforts have had great results in my opinion.
But I believe that the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back is the fact that young wine professionals are always looking for something new and exciting to dive into. And Franciacorta, because it’s flown under the radar for so long, is just the thing.
I also believe that Franciacorta’s immense and expanding popularity in Italy is also having an affect on trade awareness in the U.S.
When I was in Montalcino in September, I drank Franciacorta by the glass in two different venues. Just think how many wine professionals travel to Montalcino each year from North America?
As I once heard Angelo Gaja remark, market saturation in Italy is so important for brand awareness in America. Just think of Campari, he said, and its umbrellas that dot the Roman and Milanese cityscapes.
Expanding popularity in Italy; aggressive and intelligent marketing by the consortium; more robust presence and availability of the wines in the U.S.; and a growing number of producers who are visiting the U.S. more often.
All of these factors could add up to 2016 being Franciacorta’s year!
Stay tuned… We’ve only just begun.