In a small corner of northern Italy, pocked with gentle hills, warmed by a kind mediterranean sun, an hour east of Milan, lies Franciacorta, a hidden treasure and sector of the Lombardy region known for its preeminent viticultural production. Franciacorta, eponymous with the type of wine, the method from which the wine emerges, and the region itself, boasts a unique, mineral-rich soil and an autolytic production style, which yields delicate, flavorful sparkling wines.
The region, known for its abundant topographical beauty, itinerant festivals, and stringent commitment to ethical, superlative winemaking, has a long history with grape and wine production that dates back to the Roman era. After centuries of informal vine cultivation, local vintner Franco Ziliani formally established the “Pinot di Franciacorta” in the early 1960s, which inaugurated the following decades of international demand for the specific beverage. Today, Franciacorta is a paragon of the organic viticulture industry, with over 55% of vineyards in the region labeled organic: cultivated by the sensitive touch of harvesters who know the land intimately, the Franciacorta flavor is multidimensional not just in it’s production style but in the sustainability practices that back it.
After the late summer harvest, Franciacorta undergoes a rigorous fermentation process: blends of Chardonnay, Pinot nero, Pinot bianco, and Erbamat grapes are pressed gently to procure the juices for the “base wine,” which is fermented in steel or wooden tanks until the following spring, after which the winemakers bottle the juice and add yeasts and sugars (although many of the wines from the region have no added sugar) and allow the wine to ferment inside of the bottle for years. After the wine is fermented, it is rotated slowly, turned vertically, and injected with a liqueur de dosage– a unique blend of Franciacorta base wine and sugars which lend a distinctive flavor profile to each bottle– before being sealed and stamped to enjoy internationally.
All this to say, if you love champagne, or even if you hate champagne, Franciacorta is where it’s at. The wines from the region are all super small batch and made with such care, they are truly beautiful wines to enjoy any time.
Dense olive groves, lustrous vineyards, air and soil saturated by thousands of years of tender love and respect for the earth: the splendorous, multilateral Franciacorta lore invites curiosity. FLAUNT sat down with winemakers there to discuss the Franciacorta region and the wines procured from the area.
How many wineries are currently operating in the Franciacorta region?
Could you please provide a brief overview of the historical background of the Franciacorta wine-producing area?
The area known as Franciacorta lies owes its ancient origins to the retreating glaciers which, over 10,000 years ago, formed the amphitheatre where Franciacorta is nestled. Franciacorta’s origins are ancient, and its roots lie in a land where grape growing has always been a constant: From the Roman era through the Early and Late Middle Ages, the favourable climatic conditions and soil types led to expansion of countless vineyards.
The first Franciacorta was produced in 1961. Following the first recognition as a Denomination of Controlled Origin, already arrived in 1967, Franciacorta became in 1995 the first territory and Italian wine produced with the bottle refermentation method to have obtained the Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (DOCG). Today on the labels we read “Franciacorta,” a single term to defines territory, method and wine.
We are also interested in learning about the individual or organization responsible for recent efforts in organizing and managing the region's wine-related activities. Kindly provide us with the relevant information.
As a guardian of the Franciacorta method, the Consortium carries out a work that is divided into different activities: from the protection of the brand and the territory, to the enhancement of the product through a continuous work on the disciplinary; from information to the consumer to the promotion of Franciacorta as an expression of a territory, a wine and a production method. Initiatives regarding viticulture and winemaking here.