Franciacorta Traditional Method: superior Italian sparkling wine
Let’s start with the name.
The traditional method is commonly known as Champagne, however this name is copyrighted, and cannot be used for wines produced outside that particular French region. The production process for these sparkling wines involves inducing a second fermentation after bottling through the addition of sugars, selected yeasts and mineral substances.
Moving on to the numbers….
The pressure contained in a bottle of Franciacorta sparkling wine is approximately six atmospheres and, when opened, one and a half atmospheres are released in the form of bubbles. Once poured into the glass, the show begins in the form of bubbles that rise to the surface, the perlage. In a 750 millimeter bottle of wine, there are, incredibly, about 250 million bubbles.
The vineyards of Franciacorta occupy about 20,000 hectares of land and are located in a hilly region between Brescia the southern edge of Lake Iseo. It is a strip of land with a mild climate which was formed from the Morainic amphitheater, in other words, it was burrowed out with the advance and later retreat of glaciers.
Turning to the origins of the name…
Franciacorta has nothing to do with our neighbors across the Alps, but arose in the Middle Ages, from Francae Curtes, or Frankish Courts, holdings that were exempt from custom duties.
Franciacorta, along with Trentino Alto Adige and Oltrepò Pavese, are the Italian regions dedicated to the production of high-quality sparkling wines.
In a certain sense, the first believers came from this area. The two individuals that pioneered the effort to develop a local sparkling wine were Guido Berlucchi and Franco Ziliani. The former produced Pinot in the area around the castle of Borgonato, however the wine had problems with stability. The latter was an enologist called in to resolve the problem, who loved Champagne, and who was obsessed with creating a great sparkling wine. Once he started working with Berlucchi, he put forth his challenge: produce a sparkling wine in the French tradition. The challenge was accepted. It took six years before Zilliani was satisfied with the result. It was 1961 and 3,000 bottles were produced. The label showed, for the first time, the geographic area: Franciacorta. A new sparkling wine was born. To better understand the area which surrounds this moment in history, it is worth visiting the Palazzo Lana Berlucchi and the nearby wine cellars, designed to look cavernous and slightly rundown.
From that point, other entrepreneurs decided to invest in Franciacorta, individuals that came from other business sectors, who were pragmatic and imposed the use of machinery and increasingly sophisticated and modern methods on the local wine-making tradition.
This approach allowed Franciacorta to position itself in Italy, not just as a wine production center for superior sparkling wines, and to develop the perfect synergy between the region and the wine produced. This led to Franciacorta becoming the first Italian sparkling wine, produced exclusively under the traditional method, to obtain Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), or Controlled Designation of Origin, status in 1995.
Much time has passed from the origins of the wine to today, and other wines have been developed based on the resting periods of the yeast in the bottle: Franciacorta non millesimati, Franciacorta Satèn e Rosé non millesimati, Franciacorta Satèn e Rosé millesimati, Franciacorta Satèn e Rosé Riserva.
The sparkling wines from this region are of a straw-yellow color, with an abundant bouquet, inviting, rich in flowers and mature fruit, and very elegant. It is mainly served as an aperitivo or as an accompaniment to desserts. It is also excellent with the main meal, and combines nicely with fried food and cured meats. In the end, nothing is able to clean your palate like a sparkling wine.
Visits to this region and the Wine Road will lead you to discover towns rich in history, spectacular hills, fabled vineyards, small villages built of stone, medieval towers and castles, aristocratic palaces and villas, and ancient monasteries and parish churches, frozen in time.
For example, the San Pietro in Lamosa monastery and the nearby Torbiere del Sebino nature reserve are an excellent pairing, combining history and art with natural wonders.
What are you waiting for?