Sparkling wine – Franciacorta

A DOCG metodo classico full sparkling wine, from chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot blanc, with some examples of varietal chardonnay. 18-60 months lees ageing. NV and vintage. All designed to compete with Champagne, at a better price point. Mainly a home market with little seen in the UK. Citrus, apple and autolytic notes.

Hilly DOCG around the southern end of Lake Iseo, in the Province of Brescia, in the Region of Lombardy, in northern Italy. Altitude 180-230m.

Continental, cool hilly area, climate moderated by the Lake.

Glacial moraine topography, materials crushed below, pushed ahead and to the sides of a long gone glacier – so soils are stony, gravelly and mineral rich.

The first Italian solely sparkling DOC, and the only one to specify metodo classico.  Elevated to DOCG in 1995.
All practices are carefully aligned with Champagne, so as to be a credible alternative.
Price point between Prosecco and Champagne.
Franciacorta can be a little richer and fuller than Champagne, so more versatile at table.
Label need only say Franciacorta – defines the growing area, production method and the wine – the same strategy as Champagne.
Market is mainly internal; in UK, examples at £15-35.

Made in the same way as Champagne.
Some varietal chardonnay.
Top producers – Ca del Bosco, Bellavista, with many small producers and wineries.
Annual production 13m bottles.

Chardonnay represents about 80% of plantings, followed by pinot nero at 15%, and 5% pinot bianco [2].
High density vines, as in Champagne – may reduce vigour, concentrate flavour and give smaller looser bunches.
Traditional overhead pergola of the region has been replaced by cordon trained spur pruned, or head trained cane pruned. Varieties – chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot blanc.
Hand harvesting, yield < 65hl/ha.

Metodo classico (the traditional method of champagne), so:

  • Gentle fractional pressing to separate the cuvee from the taille.
  • First fermentation in stainless steel vat; a few producers use old casks.
  • Blending.
  • Addition of liqueur de tirage (sugars and selected yeast).
  • Second fermentation in bottle, under crown cap; slow second fermentation at low temperature – prise de mousse.
  • Riddling.
  • Disgorgment

Addition of the dosage (licqueur d’expedition) to achieve the desired style.
Lees aging for 18-60 months.
Pressure, like champagne, 5-6atm, except Saten at 4.5atm.

Ageing (lees+post disgorgement)
On all categories and styles – 7 months minimum post disgorgement aging period to meld the dosage with the wine.

Zero dosage, extra brut, brut, extra dry, and dry = amabile – has slight sweetness.


  • Franciacorta NV – 18 months on lees, release 25 (18+7) months after harvest, 5-6atm.
  • Franciacorta Mlllessimato (Brut, Saten or Rose) – vintage, not less than 85% of wine from that vintage, at least 30 months on the lees, release from 37 (30+7) months after harvest, 5-6atm.
  • Riserva – a Millesimato, with at least 60 months on the lees, release from 67 (60+7) months after harvest, 5-6atm.
  • Saten (= satin) – cremant style brut only, more delicate than the 5-6atm wines, chardonnay dominated with pinot noir blend – so a blanc de blancs, pressure < 4.5atm, 11.5%abv.
  • Rose – red and white grapes vinified separately, not less than 15% pinot noir, 5-6atm.

Tasting notes

  1. Brut NV – pale intensity lemon, medium (+) intensity aromas of citrus and apple, with an autolytic hint; a dry wine with medium alcohol and a medium body, with medium (+) intensity flavours of citrus and apple, with a persistent creamy mousse and a long finish.
  2. Barone Pizzini NV.
  3. Ferghettina Brut NV.


  1. The Franciacorta Consortium [online] accessed 13/11/18.
  2. O’Keefe, K. Discovering Franciacorta – Italy’s hidden gem. In Wine Enthusiast, March 2018 [online] accessed 13/11/18.

Updated 13/11/18

About citbp

I am interested in everything about wine, from site selection to tasting.
This entry was posted in ITALY, italy lombardy, SPARKLING WORLDWIDE. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s