Franciacorta is the name of a limited geographical area in Northern Italy where one of the best Italian bottle-fermented sparkling wines is produced. The territory of Franciacorta is a section of the Province of Brescia in the Region of Lombardy, in the hills immediately south-east of the foot of Lake Iseo.
The area enjoys mild weather due to its location south of the foothills of the Alps and the tempering presence of large lakes. And this beautiful area has proved is ideal for growing grapes. The name Franciacorta, attested in 1277, is thought to derive from curtes francae, the fortified courts of the Frankish empire established in the 8th century.
Today Franciacorta is a DOCG appellation that defines the territory, the production methods, and the characteristics of the unique sparkling wines produced in the area. Franciacorta Non Vintage sparkling wine is produced using only Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, e Pinot Blanc grapes.
These superb wines reflect the special characteristics of the territory, the refined wine making traditions of the area, and achieve a very high expressive quality that make Franciacorta probably the best Italian bottle-fermented sparkling wine.
The rigorous rules of the Franciacorta appellation and working methods require the grapes to be picked solely manually and into small packing cases and require as well the application of cellar techniques which assure maximum expressive quality in classic method Italian sparkling wine. The wine production process includes a second with aging on the lees for at least 12 months and a further 6 months in the bottle. Wines can only be released 25 months after harvest.
A variation to the traditional Franciacorta is the Saten, which is made from 100% Chardonnay and has slightly less pressure in the bottle. Saten wines are therefore slightly smoother and have a very pleasant and enjoyable character.
Saten is aged 24 months on the lees, and a further 6 months in the bottle and can only be released 37 months after harvest of the base wine. Aging can reach 30 months for the vintage-marked millesimato and an impressive 60 months for the riserva wines.
Today there are some 100 producers of Franciacorta wine. Among the most respected are Berlucchi, who created the first Franciacorta sparkling wine, Bellavista, Ca’Del Bosco, Contadi Castaldi, Il Mosnel, Majolini, Solive, Ferghettina and Cavalleri.
To learn more visit the Franciacorta Consortium website http://www.franciacorta.net