Christmas in Franciacorta

15 December 2022

Sommelier Artur Vaso suggests ways to match up the recipes of the great chefs with the various types of Franciacorta

At Christmas food is king. Traditional dishes play centre-stage roles in lunches and dinners cooked at home and are transformed into exquisite culinary creations in the kitchens of the best restaurants. Inspired by a great passion for the world of wine, sommelier Artur Vaso has come up with a menu for us made up of recipes dreamed up by expert chefs combined with the various types of Franciacorta.

Let’s kick off with starters. An idea is serving capon as an entrée. It is delicious made Brescia-style, served with caramelised carrots and filled with a stuffing bursting with herbs, garlic, onions, parsley and rosemary. This dish fit for kings is pure magic accompanied by a Franciacorta Rosé Brut, a wine made with grapes grown on well drained soils capable of dazzling guests with its plethora of aromas and innate elegance. Its structure showcases pleasant fruity notes while its refreshing acidity makes it a not overly obtrusive presence and enables us to appreciate all the ingredients of the stuffing fully, as well as the flavours of the capon.

If you prefer a traditional Christmas but would, at the same time, like to bring something out-of-the-ordinary to the table, you could begin with a pumpkin cappuccino served with red prawns, kale chips and ginger foam, like the dish invented by chef Stefano Cerveni at Ristorante Due Colombe al Borgo Antico in Borgonato (BS). These are unusual ingredients which go perfectly with Franciacorta Satèn. The characteristics of this wine include extraordinary smoothness and a fine perlage. It is tangy and zesty, qualities capable of counterbalancing the sweetness of the pumpkin marvellously and exalting the ginger, generating a veritable harmony of flavours.

Barbecued octopus served on a celeriac cream is as delicious starter which fits well into a Christmas dinner or lunch. With this dish a spot-on wine choice is Franciacorta Brut, a versatile wine which also goes perfectly with fish. Its tangy but balanced flavour makes it rich and energy-packed while its dried fruit and nut and citrus aromas enchant and satisfy.

Moving onto pasta and rice now, serving up a creamy orange, rosemary, red prawn and Ponzu sauce risotto like that of Ristorante Carlo Magno di Collebeato’s chef Beppe Maffioli (BS) is a winning choice. Possibly together with a wine like Franciacorta Extra Brut, truly unbeatable with the dish’s delicate prawn flavours and as a counterpoint to the slightly sweet aromas of the orange.

Nothing could be better than a great dish of cappelletti stuffed with sturgeon to kick off a New Year’s Eve dinner! These are on the menu at Ristorante Vivace in Brescia, where it is chef Davide Modesti at the helm. The flavours of the fish combine with the other ingredients, such as lemon zest and marjoram, breathing life into a unique whole, a delicious sequence of surprising aromas and flavours which will win you over with every mouthful. Here it is Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero 2016, perfect with fish, which is ideal because it is made without added sugar, a pure, rigorous and clean assemblage of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. It is a top quality golden wine capable of getting everyone in the party mood. 

If a more delicate flavour is your thing pappardella stuffed with pumpkin, Franciacorta and caviar with its nutmeg and shallot flavours is a phenomenal pasta dish to serve up to guests on New Year’s Eve or Christmas day. Try it with Franciacorta Satèn 2018, a wine bursting with white flower aromas. Stylish with a big personality, its finish conjures up jammy motes which go perfectly with pumpkin and caviar, a triumph of contrasting-flavour-free harmony.

Occasions such as Christmas Eve and Christmas Dinner also require personality packed mains. Braised cheek in Curtefranca rosso with Jerusalem artichokes and coffee is a dish created by chef Mauro Zacchetti, of the Al Malò Cucina e Miscelazione restaurant in Rovato (BS). Ideal as a main dish, it is succulent meat cooked with diced vegetables accompanied by polenta chips made with bramata corn flour and a delicious Jerusalem artichoke and coffee purée.

A sophisticated dish built around delicate but characteristic flavours. The ideal wine with this is Franciacorta Riserva Dosaggio Zero 2011, with its fine perlage cut through with pleasant toasted bread aromas. The overall effect is an all-encompassing equilibrium which feels like a warm embrace.

As an alternative to the ‘usual’ turkey, guinea fowl is a Christmas ingredient that everyone loves. It can be served up in a sophisticated barbecued version with spinach and truffle cream. Franciacorta Riserva Brut 2008 goes well with this dish. An intense dish with candied citrus notes which are dry and stylish in the mouth, it is ideal with meats such as guinea fowl because it cuts out all the dish’s fattiness, leaving space only for crispness and flavour.

And for an ideal finish, a slice of panettone by master pastry chef Giovanni Cavalleri of Pasticceria Roberto in Erbusco (BS). Happy Christmas and New Year. Cheers everyone!

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