Omé, Franciacorta, Lombardia
Simone Majolini represents the third generation making Franciacorta at Majolini. He works alongside his cousin Giovanni and his uncle Ezio is never too far away.
Majolini is just outside Omé, a small medieval town that makes the odd guest appearance on maps. It lies just south of Lago d’Iseo in the foothills of the Alps. The town’s largest employer is the grinding wheel factory on the plain. This (the factory, not the plain) is also owned and run by the Majolini family and doubles as the distribution centre for their wine estate, which is inconveniently positioned above the old town. To get to Majolini you must first navigate corseted streets, too narrow for lorries, the land then opens up into an amphitheatre of vines surrounding the limestone cellar, watched over by a huge bronze of prancing horses by Aligi Sassu.
The hillside vineyards are terraced where necessary and share the land with dense forest, there is a rich bio-diversity. The sub-rock is the fine grade of limestone once used in the print industry. It is a perfect setting for Franciacorta, Italy’s finest Metodo Classico (along with the Trento). Their vineyards are mainly Chardonnay then Pinot Noir, there are small amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Majolina, a local oddity that resembles Barbera.
For these spumante the vines are Chardonnay and Pinot Nero (pinot noir) and the system employed to make the wines is identical to that used in Champagne: the first fermentation is in both steel and oak, the second in bottle and, finally, remuage. The grapes are picked at different stages according to their age, type, soil and aspect, following which, each portion is fermented separately. Rather than using library stocks as they do in Champagne, Majolini assemble their wines according to the raw materials available from that vintage, for even Majolini Brut NV is actually a vintage wine kept on the lees for over 2 years. Having said that, if the vintage is not up to scratch, a suitable partner is found to find balance and harmony in the wine, the last time this happened was when the slightly dilute 2002 wines were blended with the over-ripe 2003 to make a superb Brut NV. The Rosé is bled from Pinot Noir and Riserva wines are truly only released in the best years; this is an honest, quality-driven estate.