Much enjoyed by locals in Northern Italy, Franciacorta is a sparkling wine produced from grapes grown within the boundaries of the territory Franciacorta in the Province of Brescia, Lombardia. While still wines from this area have a long history, going as far back as 1277, the emergence of Franciacorta’s sparkling wine began in 1961 when winemaker Franco Ziliani, who was working for Berlucchi, sought to fulfill his ambition to produce a sparkling wine. The first release in 1971 included 3,000 bottles of a sparkling wine that was sold under the name Pinot di Franciacorta. From there its popularity steadily grew, and today there are over 30 producers.
Produced with the methode champensoise of France and undergoing a minimum of 18 months aging, Franciacorta is just that more delicious than Prosecco. However the lengthier aging process does make Franciacorta a bit more expensive than Prosecco. But it’s worth it- and many bottles of Franciacorta are in fact as good as a fine champagne. To me Franciacorta has a more sophisticated, refined taste. It’s bubbles are finer and softer, leaving a lighter taste on the palette. The grapes used to produce Franciacorta include Pinto Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Nero. The lengthier the aging period the more scrumptious the bottle of Franciacorta – starting with 19 months for non-vintage, to Rose and Satén requiring a minimum 24 month aging period, next vintage with a 30 month aging period and ultimately Franciacorta Riserva with a full 5 years.
Bellavista Gran Cuvee Satén Franciacorta ($60-70) has undergone at least 2 years of aging – and is a delicious alternative to really expensive champagne. One of the oldest vineyards to produce the sparkler Bellavista Franciacorta is fairly easy to find in the U.S. Monte Rossa Franciacorta Prima Cuvée ($24-30) and Alta Langa Contessa Rosa Franciacorta ($50) are also wonderful. Look for them locally via wine-searcher.
Mix it up and serve Franciacorta as your celebratory sparkling wine at your next event!