The Production Regulations for Franciacorta DOCG
It is produced using the Classic Method, the Italian equivalent of the Champenoise Method, which involves re-fermentation in the bottle and separation of deposits through disgorging. The grape varieties allowed for its production are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and, in percentages not exceeding 50%, Pinot Blanc.
The regulations for Franciacorta DOCG only allow for vineyards located in the area's historic communes and which meet precise requirements: they must, for example, be far from rivers, streams and stagnant water. The harvested grapes must arrive immediately at the winery and vinification, draught and re-fermentation operations may only be carried out in the area. With the exception of Pinot Noir grapes vinified in rosé for Franciacorta Rosé, the must may only be obtained by direct pressing, without destemming the grapes. The maximum grape-to-wine yield is 65%. In the preparation of the 'base', called cuvée, the mixing of 'vin de résèrve' from different vintages is permitted. This is followed by the draught phase, i.e. bottling and subsequent re-fermentation in the bottle. The minimum period of ageing on the lees before disgorging is 18 months. Bottles can only be marketed with a cork fixed by the traditional metal cage.
The Different Types
The regulations allow for different types and impose specific requirements for each one. Alongside the Franciacorta DOCG, with no additional specifications other than those regarding the dosage of sugar, the following types are allowed:
- Millesimato, with an indication of the year in which the grapes were harvested. In this case, at least 85% of the cuvée must come from a single harvest and the minimum period of refinement on the lees in the bottle cannot be less than 30 months.
- Rosé, obtained solely from the rosé vinification of Pinot Noir grapes. The minimum period of refinement in the bottle for this type is 24 months.
- Satèn, made only from white grapes, mainly Chardonnay, and characterised by a pressure inside the bottle of less than 5 atmospheres, which makes it softer and creamier.
- Riserva, attributed to the vintage wines after an ageing period of at least 60 months.
These types of Franciacorta can also be combined and it is not unusual to find, for example, a Satèn Millesimato or a Rosé Riserva Millesimato.
All types of Franciacorta wines also have an indication of the dosage of sugar, according to the scale specifically for Champagne and indicated by EU regulations: Dosage Zero, i.e. with a sugar level of less than 3 grams per litre, Extra Brut, with a sugar level of less than 6 g/l, Franciacorta Brut, with a sugar level of less than 12 grams per litre, and other much rarer sweet types. The lower the sugar level, the drier the taste.
The History and Terroir
The name of a hilly area of Lombardy in the province of Brescia has also come to indicate the sparkling wines made there, which are considered among the best Italian Classic Method wines. Their history has recent origins but the area's winemaking tradition has its roots in ancient times.
It is a hilly territory that stretches between Brescia and the southern end of Lake Iseo and includes 20 municipalities, including: Adro, Capriolo, Erbusco and Paratico. Among these hills, today populated by woods and vineyards, Monte Orfano stands out for its height, which, with its 451 metres of altitude, marks the southern border of the denomination. The soils are rich in sand and silt, poor in clay and sprinkled with stones and minerals. The climate is continental, mitigated by the presence of Lake Iseo, which, in winter, protects the area from the cold pre-Alpine currents and, in summer, softens the sultriness with its cool currents. Over the centuries, these geo-climatic conditions have been considered unfavourable to wine-growing, but today they have proved to be ideal conditions for the production of the refined and typical Franciacorta bubbles.
The origin of the name derives, according to the most accredited hypothesis, from the Latin expression ''curtes francae'' which indicated the medieval settlements of the Benedictine monks of Cluny. The monastic curtes enjoyed the privilege of exchanging goods without paying duties and taxes, called francae. Hence the toponym of Franzacurta, attested for the first time in 1277 in a municipal document of Brescia.
The wines that were produced in ancient times were still and reserved for local and daily consumption, but already in the 16th century the first sparkling wines were produced, called "mordaci" at the time. A 1570 treaty called Libellus de vino mordaci, attributed to the Brescian doctor Girolamo Conforti, offers precious evidence and develops some important insights that seem to anticipate the illustrious innovations of Abbot Dom Perignon. Conforti understood, for example, that effervescence was due to the spontaneous re-fermentation of must during the winter months.
The area's wine renaissance began in the early 1960s, when a series of entrepreneurs and producers, based on the recognition of certain similarities with the French terroir, set themselves the goal of producing a type that could compete with the best bubbles from beyond the Alps. One of the most brilliant producers was Guido Berlucchi who, with the help of enologist and collaborator Franco Ziliani, produced the first 3,000 bottles of Franciacorta sparkling wine, called "Pinot", in 1961, from Pinot Bianco grapes. Starting in the 1970s, this expression reached worldwide enological heights and many wineries followed the example of the first historic group of pioneering producers.
In 1967, the denomination was regulated with the granting of DOC status. The fame it was achieving outside Italy and the need to guarantee very high quality standards led to the granting of DOCG status in 1995. Today, the denomination is one of the most sought-after on the market and local producers have consolidated a know-how that has given rise to one of Italy's most prestigious enological excellences.
Choose the type you prefer and discover the best bottles for sale on Callmewine. In our online wine shop you can find the most competitively-priced Franciacorta wines and the most famous labels of the historic producers but also the artisanal productions of small wineries, selected for you and for all lovers of Italian wine and food excellence.