Franciacorta Wine Guide – Italian Sparkling Wine

Franciacorta Wine Guide – understanding this sparkling wine from Italy.

A bit about me. Not only do I have a WSET Level 3 Award in Wines, but I’ve also been to theFranciacorta Wine Area. Whilst here I was a guest at the Guido Berlucchi wine cellar where I had an incredible guided wine and food tasting.

So, if you are ready to learn more aboutFranciacorta Italian sparkling wine, read on.

Franciacorta is an Italian sparkling wine known as the Champagne of Italy. No, Prosecco is not Italian Champagne.Franciacorta is more closely related to the bubbly French wine due to its production methods.

glass of franciacorta wine

Where is Franciacorta wine from?

Franciacorta is a territory in the Province of Brescia, which is a Province in the Lombardy administrative region of northern Italy. Franciacorta wine is made from grapes grown within the boundaries of the territory of Franciacorta, on the hills located between the southern shore of Lake Iseo and the city of Brescia.

Red, white and sparkling wine is made in Franciacorta.

Wines labelled Curtefranca DOC are non-sparkling wines from the Franciacorta region. DOC is denominazione di origine controllata. It translates as “designation of controlled origin”. Under DOC rules, winemakers can produce two styles of wine. The white is of the Burgundy-style based either on Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco or a blend of both. The red is of the Bordeaux-style based on either Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon or both, and Merlot, with smaller amounts of Nebbiolo and Barbera. 

Under the DOC rules, there is no option for aBurgundy-style red and the Pinot Noir grape can only be used in sparkling wines.

However, when people talk about Franciacorta, they usually mean sparkling wine from Italy. This wine has DOCG protected status. DOCG stands for denominazione di origine controllata e garantita which translates to “controlled and guaranteed designation of origin”.

franciacorta wine guide bottle in a bucket on a table

Franciacorta wine production method

Franciacorta DOCG is a sparkling wine made from handpicked grapes harvested from noble vines. The grapes grow in strictly delimited vineyards in various communes in the Franciacorta wine area. The production method must adhere to the Metodo Classico. This means the traditional method, which is the same method winemakers use in the Champagne region of France to produce Champagne. This is whyFranciacorta is called the Italian Champagne. It means that a secondary fermentation must take place inside the bottle in which the wine will be sold.

The grape composition forFranciacorta DOCG sparkling wine consists of Chardonnay and/orPinot Nero (aka Pinot Noir) with up to 50 per cent maximum of Pinot Bianco and up to 10 per cent of Erbamat.

Depending on the blend of the grapes, the wine is classified into:

  • Franciacorta Satèn (or Cremant): A blanc de blancs (white from white) Champagne equivalent made mostly from Chardonnay and up to a maxium of 50 per cent Pinot Bianco.
  • Franciacorta Rosé: A sparkling rosé wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco (max 50 per cent), Pinot Nero (min 25 per cent) and Erbamat (maximum 10 per cent).

The winemaker then subjects the wine to slow maturation on the lees for:

a minimum of 18 months for non-vintage bottles

a minimum of 24 months and less sugar on tirage for Franciacorta Satèn

30 months and 85% of the grapes from a single vintage for Franciacorta Millesimato (Vintage)

60 months forFranciacorta Riserva

Franciacorta DOCG is available in the following types: Brut (dry), Extra dry (lightly sweet) Demi-sec (medium sweet) and Sec (sweet). However, the Satèn version is exclusively Brut.

Franciacorta sparkling wine tasting notes

The colour of Franciacorta sparkling wine is intense, straw-yellow colour with green or golden reflections and a fine and persistent perlage. Perlage is a collection of pearls. It describes the quality and character of fizziness, much like the French use the word mousse.

On the nose, there are the typical aromas of bottle ageing like brioche, toast and yeast. There’s also hints of citrus fruit, ripe fruits, dried figs, white flowers and nutty aromas like almonds and hazelnuts.

What food pairs withFranciacorta wine?

You can enjoy this wine on its own or as an aperitivo before food. It also pairs perfectly with a wide variety of foods including white fish dishes, creamy pasta dishes, charcuterie, buttery popcorn and the semi-dry version pairs well with spicy cheeses.

Franciacorta versus Champagne

Many compare the Franciacorta wines with those from Champagne, and that’s not completely out of place. To name the differences, the Italian types are less acidic and contain a bit more sweetness and fruit, which is due to the more southern, and thus warmer, climate.

franciacorta wine bottle

RecommendedFranciacorta wines

When I was visiting Lake Iseo andFranciacorta these are theFranciacorta wines that I really enjoyed. I thought they were very expressive of the region:

Berlucchi 2014 ’61 Nature (Franciacorta) – Balanced and fragrant, intense, elegant and complex Vintage Franciacorta withbright acidity and elegant perlage. A blend of 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Nero with flavours of apple, peach, toast and crushed stone.

Berlucchi ’61 Satèn (Franciacorta) – 100% Chardonnay. Medium-bodied. Fresh, fruity elegant and creamy with flavours of pastry, tropical fruit, almonds and candied citrus

Ferghettina Franciacorta Brut NVA blend of 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Nero. A bright, lively and very approachable wine with flavours of citrus fruits, golden apple, hazelnuts and white flowers.

So, there you have it. Prosecco is not the only Italian sparkling wine. Franciacorta is also a sparkling wine from Italy that is produced in the Lombardy region using theMetodo Classico. It is known as Italian Champagne and it tastes delicious. So, if you haven’t already tried it, I urge you to seek out a bottle, pop the cork and enjoy.

Thanks for reading my Franciacorta wine guide

So, what did you think of my Franciacorta wine guide to understanding this Italian Sparkling Wine?

Have you been to theFranciacorta wine area? Is there a Franciacorta wine you’d recommend? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

If you liked thisFranciacorta Wine Guide, you might also like my review of the Cocca Hotel Royal Thai Spa in Lake Iseo and my Lake Iseo travel guide. You can also read all about my tour and tasting at theGuido Berlucchi Winery in Franciacorta. Heading to the Lombardy region? Check out my travel guides on both Brescia and Bergamo.

If you’d like to learn more about wine, have a read of my understanding rose wine guide and my rose wine pairing guide.

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