Ca’ Del Bosco Launches Annamaria Clementi R.S. 1980

14th June 2024

Ca Del Bosco Franciacorta 1980 Vintage Sparkling Wine

Ca’ del Bosco unveils an iconic Franciacorta after over 40 years’ maturation in the bottle.

“Ca’ del Bosco’s Annamaria Clementi R.S. 1980 was recently launched in London at a Special Dinner at Private Member’s Club, Harry’s bar in Mayfair with Jancis Robinson, Hugh Johnson, MW’s and some of the largest wine publications, having tasted the incredible ageing potential of Franciacorta myself, I see fantastic promise for the future of Franciacorta.” – Oliver Walkey – Director at Glass of Bubbly

London, 3rd June 2024 – Ca’ del Bosco has announced the launch of Annamaria Clementi R.S. in the international market. A bottle which began over 40 years ago, is now being unveiled in its 1980 vintage. It was created in 1979 by André Dubois, the experienced cellarmaster from Champagne, who joined Ca’ del Bosco that year.

Maurizio Zanella, Founder and Chairman of Ca’ del Bosco, knew that a great wine can only be made by expert hands, rich in tradition. It was thanks to André Dubois, chef de cave at Ca’ del Bosco until 1990, that the foundations were laid for what is now known as “the Ca’ del Bosco Method”, used to create this special vintage. The Method relies on precise organic viticulture that takes good care of the soils and the organisms within them, combined with winemaking know-how that enhances the value of the grapes to make a wine that is the best possible expression of its terroir.

Following this, a vineyard with 10,000 vines per hectare was planted, among the very first of its kind in Italy. Dubois’ work then materialized in what was to become a benchmark wine, the best interpretation of the Franciacorta soils. Through a selection of the best grapes from the estate’s oldest plots, he began to create the first vintage Franciacorta meant for long ageing.

Originally named Ca’ del Bosco Franciacorta Millesimato, over the years Annamaria Clementi’s essence has remained unchanged, but the wine and the method were perfected, with increasing attention to detail. In 1989 this led to devising a new bottle for the wine but, most importantly, a new name – Annamaria Clementi, dedicated to Maurizio Zanella’s mother, the winery’s founder and his constant source of inspiration. By the late 1980s, the market and wine critics established this Franciacorta as one of the most representative in its class.

“This is a wine my closest collaborators, or, rather, mentors, and I really wanted to make. Antonio Gandossi was in charge of the vineyards, while André Dubois was the chef de cave. I still remember the joyful toil that went into manually pressing the grapes in the ancient Marmonier wooden press. And then, the big innovations for the time: the use of the pièces (205-litre oak casks.), the bottling ritual, the corking with the stopper held in place by a metal staple, the anxious anticipation of secondary fermentation and, lastly, the long wait. It was the 1980 vintage that sparked in us the crazy idea of forgetting some 6,000 bottles ‘sur pointe’ to be able to study, explore and discover the potential of our Franciacortas over time, and share it one day”, says Maurizio Zanella, Chairman and Founder of Ca’ del Bosco.

The 1980 harvest year was characterized by an extended period of low temperatures and heavy rainfall in the months of May and June, which caused the yields to drop. From the second week of July on, summer began, with temperatures of around 30°C. The sunny weather favoured grape growth, marked by excellent quality in this vintage.

The harvest operations began in the first week of September, with the ‘Pinot’ grapes displaying perfect health and maturity. The grapes that went into this Riserva were picked on the 11th and 12th of September, from a selection of bunches from the 7 plots in the Canelle area, surrounding the winery.

The blend of ‘Cuvée Annamaria Clementi R.S. 1980’ was initially created using 40% Pinot Nero base wines and 60% base wines from white ‘Pinot’ grapes. Later on, it was found that, from an ampelographic perspective, the vineyards were randomly planted with Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay, which led to correcting the varietal composition to 40% Pinot Nero, 21% Pinot Bianco and 39% Chardonnay.

Meticulous vinification and storage in pièces for approximately five months were followed by bottling in February 1981. This led to the extremely long ageing on the lees until 2023 – 42 years, of which 7 years with the bottles on their sides and 34 years with the bottles stacked ‘sur pointe’.

A long wait, as Stefano Capelli, whom André Dubois had singled out in 1986 to succeed him in his job in 1990, points out: “André taught me that complexity, fullness and olfactory harmony are only achievable with time. This was his most important lesson: To make a great wine, you need to understand the value of time and forget haste. You have to forget your wines in the cellar, so as to go back to them later and study, analyse, taste and assess them over the years. Only with the passing of time will you be able to gauge their age worthiness, and their improvements over time, until they develop their original and unique character. A patient wait, until the fullest expression of varietal, soil and time is attained.”

After tasting this Riserva for years, Maurizio and I now feel that the time has come to unveil its originality – a project that began with the harvest 43 years ago, a Franciacorta that today has reached its evolutionary apex and best expresses our past and present know-how, the best expression of a Franciacorta Riserva in the Ca’ del Bosco style. A truly ‘original’ wine, not merely the fruit of the vines, but first and foremost of time. A sublime Franciacorta, which, 42 years later, expresses all its complexity – a deep straw yellow colour with evident golden highlights and an intense and explosive nose. The initial sensations are surprising, with hints of undergrowth, musk and fern, which testify to its extensive ageing on the lees with a natural cork stopper. Distinctive candied citrus and quince jam notes merge with roasted hazelnuts and caramel. A fragrant Franciacorta, which, in contact with air, develops iodine, beeswax and cedarwood nuances. On the palate, it displays astonishing soundness and intensity, an almost ‘fleshy’ creaminess, with a powerful aromatic finish.”

Disgorgement was carried out in August 2023. To preserve the wine’s purity, it was decided that no liqueur d’expedition should be added upon disgorging. Hence the wine is not ‘dosé’.

As is the case for other vintage wines in the range – Vintage Collection Brut and Dosage Zéro, as well as Cuvée Prestige – the winery coined the R.S. acronym, which stands for recently disgorged, to identify the bottles that take a longer period of ageing on the lees than the first release of the same wine.

In the original packaging, the bottle is embellished by a metal label and a fabric neckband, contained in an exclusive box with gold foil on the outside, with the intent to preserve its content. On the front, each bottle is numbered, while the back label features a QR code to browse new materials and discover more about this wine.

Ca’ del Bosco, a pioneering vintner and winemaker since the early 1970s, is one of today’s leading producers of Franciacorta wines. A position achieved thanks to enthusiasm, passion, experimentation and hard work, which transformed a cottage surrounded by chestnut woods into one of the most modern and advanced wineries. At Ca’ del Bosco, a single objective determines and defines production, from selection in the vineyard to bottling. Quality of the highest level, that is to say excellence.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.