Top of the pops: Franciacorta vs champagne taste-off at Osteria

Barbican restaurant hosts a bubbly battle with wine experts and a special menu

The Barbican’s Osteria restaurant
The Barbican’s Osteria restaurant

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.

La Valle Franciacorta Brut Primum
La Valle Franciacorta Brut Primum

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.

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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.

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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.”

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