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Franciacorta Sparkling Wine: Italy’s Finest Sparkler
Travel to Lake Iseo, near Milan
Franciacorta is both the name of a wine and the name of the northwest Italian region where it is made…..a warmer region than chilly Champagne. This is Italy’s finest sparkling wine (DOCG protected region) and the grapes are riper and fuller in this warmer climate. The wine region dates back to the 16th century. Traveling to this area is a special adventure. It is located in Lombardy around the province of Brescia. The rolling hills around Lake Iseo are beautiful. This is just a day trip from Milan. The area is dotted with cute towns, and has more intimate feel than the more well-known Lake Garda and Lake Como nearby.
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Franciacorta sparkling wines are made with the following grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, and Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero) – only Pinot Meunier, a traditional grape in Champagne is excluded here. A new grape, Erbamat, has recently been added to the allowable grapes used up to a maximum of 10% of the blend. The wines are made in the traditional Champagne Method or “Metodo classico,” the classical method where the second fermentation (which makes the bubbles) occurs in the same bottle from which the wine is served. It is a very long and labor-intensive process, but it ultimately creates wines that are among the most complex and high quality in the world.
Wine Styles in Franciacorta
The wine styles of Franciacorta range in dryness from Extra Brut, Bru, Extra Dry, Sec or Demi-sec. Franciacorta Satèn is only made with Chardonnay and Pinto Bianco (a Blanc de Blanc) and is produced only in the Brut style. Flavors and aromas include lemon, grapefruit, biscuit, and almond. Franciacorta Riserva wines spend a minimum of 60 months of aging vs. Franciacorta at 18 months minimum aging. The rosé style of Franciacorta is lush with aromas of black cherry, forest berry, almond, and brioche, and this style is required to spend a minimum of 24 months of aging on the lees. I encourage you to try a Franciacorta in place of a Champagne for your next special event.
Wine Recommendations for Franciacorta
Bellavista Franciacorta Alma Cuvee Brut, NV Lombardy, Italy, $35
James Suckling, 92 Points
Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Rose, Lombardy Italy, $27
Robert Parker, 90 Points
Le Marchesine Franciacorta Nitens Brut, Lombardy, Italy, $27
Wine Enthusiast, 90 Points
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