By: ANETTA NOWOSIELSKA
Franciacorta, in the Italian region of Lombardy near Lake Iseo, is not only home to a hand-harvested, bottle-aged sparkling wine. Thanks to the visionaries at its premier producer Ca’ del Bosco, it boasts the most intriguing assemblage of public art. The mix is a heady fusion of multisensorial delights.
Robert Mondavi, the great American winemaker, may have said it best. “Making good wine is a skill; making a fine wine is an art.” The two disciplines are deliciously intertwined at the stunning Ca’ del Bosco, a vineyard located in the Italian Lombardy region of Franciacorta. A leading brand of bubblies with ultra-fine perlage bearing the name of the area it’s made in, Ca’ del Bosco’s vast estate is home to a collection of sculptural installations, opened to the public, that partakes in a profound dialogue on the nature of sensory pleasures. Much to the satisfaction of Maurizio Zanella, Ca’ del Bosco founder and president, the result is remarkably impactful.“
My passion for art springs from its similarity to wine, a three-dimensional product that stimulates multiple senses: vision, olfaction, and taste,” explains Zanella. “Art has played a fundamental role in the winery’s growth since the 1980s, allowing Ca’ del Bosco to encounter people and worlds who prized quality wine and understood the added value of a cultural approach associated with the world of wine. This decision made it possible for the wines of Ca’ del Bosco to quickly earn a solid reputation, which over the years has grown into an indissoluble bond.”
Said bond is built on the landmark Franciacorta, which took five Gold and four Silver medals last year at the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championship. Considered among the finest of Italian traditional method sparkling wines, chardonnay helms the Ca’ del Bosco as it blends with Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. Executed using Metodo Classico, a fermentation tradition that closely adheres to the technique of Mèthode Champagneoise (the champagne method of bottle-aging and second fermentation) to many Franciacorta wines’ taste is on par with top champagnes, encouraging some epithet appropriation. But by law, origin, and taste, this is not champagne, and it sits in its own category. Contributing to Ca’ del Bosco’s success, no doubt, is the vineyard’s encompassing rolls of glacial hills that form a warm microclimate moderated by cooling breezes from the foothills of the Rhaetian Alps that subtly find their way into the bottle. Nevertheless, the most distinguishing factors of this bubbly stem from the methodology cultivated according to certified organic viticulture processes, innovation, and the fullest expression of Franciacorta’s terroir.
Equally impactful is the portfolio of sculptures and photography peppered throughout the estate’s 250 plus hectares. The monumental works include oeuvres by an eclectic group of artists commissioned to do site-specific installations. Zanella is deeply entrenched in the process. “My predilection for sculpture is well served by the location, whose stunning landscapes provide the perfect setting for works of art,” he explains. “The works of art are not part of a collection: all the artists’ works are planned after having visited the winery, some of them convinced only after many years of insistence, such as Arnaldo Pomodoro, so that the art will interact with the natural beauty of its context. It is a time-consuming job, not only during the implementation phase but also during the previous study and planning phase. All this to give guests the best possible interpretation.”
The portfolio includes 10 monumental pieces by such wide-ranging artists as Mimmo Paladino, Zheng Lu, Igor Mitoraj, and Cracking Art, as well as an assemblage of 11 photographs by internationally renowned photographers. Together with the content of the cellar, this collection is an epic statement on a multidisciplinary approach to dolce vita. The subsequent interaction that unfolds between art and wine and their respective aficionados feels intuitive, organic, and fantastically seamless. Though similar integrations have already taken root at many of the world’s vineyards (Chateau La Coste in France and Donum Estate in Sonoma come to mind,) a pioneering and authentic spirit seems to surround Ca’ del Bosco and its creative footprint. No surprise there. Trailblazing is at the root of its DNA, considering Zanella was one of the forces behind the formation of the Franciacorta DOCG and the establishment of its growers’ consortium. Zanella’s introspective reflections on the outcome of his efforts may make this vineyard and its artistic riches a standout. “I’m interested in the exchange of sensations and emotions that immerse the visitor in a unique reality,” he adds. “Regardless of whether one is a wine lover or an art enthusiast.”