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Franciacorta – Singular sparkling wines, made for the pleasure of the table

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Exploring the many styles of Italy's flagship traditional method sparkling and their gastronomic vocation

It’s rare to find sparkling wines that consistently balance intensity, acidity, texture and length. There is, more often than not, a focus on one of these structural components, which dominates the character, and defines the style as a whole. The identity of Franciacorta and of its eponymous sparkling wines is precisely a harmonious choreography of structural elements, all with equal protagonism, offering a complex and complete drinking experience. The poised sophistication of Franciacorta allows it to relax into its role as a food pairing companion rather than attempting to claim centre stage. This regal, natural, relaxed sophistication is the essence of Franciacorta.

Local inspiration

Terroir is a concept with many facets – cultural, economic, environmental, historical – reflected on a region’s people and various produce, not just wine. As such, to find the best way to enjoy Franciacorta it’s useful to look at the local gastronomic tradition as a wellspring of inspiration. The region’s cuisine is itself a balanced meeting of two main sources: the mountains and the lake.
The latter is home to freshwater fish which, either grilled or stewed, is perfectly complemented by the softness of a Franciacorta Satén. This unique style, a blanc de blancs with lower pressure in the bottle, has a velvety softness and mid-palate gentleness that cradle the flaky subtlety of the fish’s meat. However, Franciacorta’s most iconic lake dishes – Clusane’s baked tench and the intense salt-dried sardines – call for the more structured and textural appeal of a Rosé or a Millesimato (vintage wine). These wines have a sterner, more affirmative character, with fleshier flavours and a slightly tannic grip, perfectly underscoring dishes of salty density.

Earthy complexity

Vintage cuvées spend a minimum of 30 months sur latte, therefore developing a moreish savoury dimension of their own – a measured counterpoint to the intensity of recipes in which umami flavours (dried fish, cured cheeses, mushrooms) dominate. They evoke the recipes from the hills of Franciacorta: Rovato beef cooked in olive oil, Monte Isola salami, various declinations of casoncelli (Brescia’s take on ravioli). Extrapolate this to an international context and in a Franciacorta Millesimato you will have an ideal companion to slow cooked meats, game and hearty vegetable dishes.

When it comes to earthy flavours it’s also worth exploring Franciacorta’s own grape variety, Erbamat. The grape lends intriguing herbal and wildflower nuances to the wines, in turn underscoring the complexity of dishes with complex sweet & sour flavour combinations. Sushi, sashimi, ceviches but also game, are the perfect pretext to discover a unique, often overlooked, grape that can add a beautiful twist to Franciacorta’s already distinct character.

What is Franciacorta? 

A region. A wine. A production method.

Seen on a label, the word ‘Franciacorta’ is a unique guarantee of origin, quality and style: sparkling wines made following the traditional method of production – second fermentation in bottle – with grapes grown exclusively within the region’s perimeter and strictly harvested by hand.

Records of winemaking in Franciacorta go back to the Middle Ages, when monks at a local Benedictine Monastery owned vineyards between Lake Iseo and Brescia. The region’s name is a derivation of Curtes Francae, a reference to the zone’s 13th century tax-free trade status.

The varieties allowed in the DOC are Chardonnay, Erbamat, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir. The white grapes take centre stage in Franciacorta’s distinct Blanc de Blancs category – Satén – a wine made with less pressure (i.e. less and softer bubbles) and with a unique softness and poise.

Relaxed sophistication

The very particular acid structure of the wines of Franciacorta, with a perceptible verve but very soft backbone, upon which the generous fruit flavours rest effortlessly, make it a quintessential food companion across different expressions and categories. Not least the most approachable, non-vintage iterations.
Wines of unpretentious complexity, usually blends of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with a light mineral framework and subtle notes of fresh nuts adding nuance to the rich orchard and citrus fruit. Although lovely aperitifs, these are wines that are best enjoyed alongside a charcuterie and cheese board, a canapé spread or a seafood platter.

Simply delicious

The pinnacle of Franciacorta, its Reserva expressions, aged for a minimum 60 months on the lees prior to disgorgement, are among the world’s most finely crafted, premium quality traditional method sparkling wines, with strictest production rules. They are, undoubtedly, a sensorial experience in their own right and there’s something particularly powerful about the simplicity of this proposition: a single glass of a fine wine capable of satisfying the senses. But it is this very same completeness that makes them such exquisite companions to equally layered flavours, from a fried foie gras to a miso cod or, quite simply, a herb roasted chicken.

Overall, Franciacorta has a textural and a rich purity, undisturbed by excessive work in the cellar and very much a product of the focus producers have placed in sustainable viticultural practices, that makes it a uniquely gastronomic sparkling. At the core of Franciacorta is the robust elegance of its perfectly ripe fruit. Whether a youthful non-vintage iteration, a velvety Satén or an aged Reserva, Franciacortas offer a particular succulence and a seduction of the palate that serves as an invitation to the pleasures of the table.


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