Wondering what all the fuss is around Franciacorta? The Barbican’s Osteria restaurant is offering enlightenment later this month when the Italian sparkler goes head-to-head with champagne in the first of two taste-offs hosted by top wine experts.
Making the case for France on January 24 and February 21 will be award-winning sommelier and Searcy’s ambassador Joël Claustre, while Debbie Kerr of Milton Sanford will defend Lombardy’s speciality Franciacorta in a battle that will go three rounds, starting with a tasting and discussion of Brut-style fizz before moving on to Blanc de Blancs and concluding with Rise of the Rosés.
Tasters will be sustained by a special menu of bar snacks created by Anthony Demetre of Wild Honey and Osteria’s Patrick Leano – truffled pecorino crostini, Dorset crab biscuit and Maldon rock oysters for Franciacorta; pressed foie gras with quince, scallop carpaccio with truffle and Lincolnshire smoked eel with green apple for champagne – after which judgement will be passed and the winner will be crowned.
And with the first round of Franciacorta versus champagne now just a couple of weeks away, the fighting talk has already begun: “Italy’s answer to champagne, Franciacorta, is often underestimated and I am confident in my ability to challenge all preconceptions,” says Claustre, while Alderin counters: “Champagne is a timeless classic and popular for a reason – it is often mistakenly drunk with little consideration of the food it is paired with. I intend to triumph over the underdog, once and for all.”