Franciacorta: a sparkling land to discover

Just outside Milan, this unique territory is home to the world famous homonymous wine. Discover what makes the spontaneous Franciacorta bubbles so attractive

Italy boasts a unique biodiversity and in just a few kilometers, natural ecosystem change completely ranging from mountains to seas, from hills to plains, and generally from the colder climates of the northern regions to the more temperate regions of the center south. Amongst the many treasures, Franciacorta deserves more than a visit for its position, culture and gastronomic legacy. This area, after all, is where chef Gualtiero Marchesi rose to stardom while illuminated local families such as the Zanella and the Moretti, started devoting resources towards wine production.

Specifically, the Franciacorta territory is composed of rolling hills between Bergamo and Brescia creating the Lake Iseo amphitheater of Lake Iseo. This area of Lombardia represents an ideal junction between the mountains of the north and the Pò Valley to the south. Millions of years ago though, it all used to be huge expanse of ice and that very glacier, slowly slipped downstream from the nearby Alps to carve trough this land.

The frozen retreat – happening more than 10,000 years ago - left a huge amount of morainic materials on the ground forming a soil rich in sand, silt and minerals of all kinds. Geology explains part of the enologic success; a highly draining soil combined with conformation and climate, provided flourishing conditions for wine making that started to be exploited from the beginning of last century onwards.

Today, in Franciacorta, there are over 100 wineries that produce sparkling wine by applying the classic Champenoise method (used in French champagnes and Spanish cava) to Chardonnay grapes with addition of Pinot. Franciacorta obtained the Denominazione di Origine Controllata already in 1967 and by 1995 it became the first Italian wine produced with the refermentation method with such a certification. Reading "Franciacorta" on labels is hence a guarantee of both territorial production and methods.

Although it started as niche wine, Franciacorta became appreciated all over the world and in 2021, the area production surpassed the milestone of 20 million bottles sold. To regulate techniques and method, there is a Consortium dedicated to protect origins and quality. The Franciacorta method is the strictest in the world for this type of wine with the goal of guaranteeing a savory, fresh, fine and harmonious product able to accompany the whole meal and many different kinds of gastronomic delicacies. 

Finally, it is important to know how different dosages of added liqueur, change the personality of bottle that range from Unsaturated to Extrabrut, from Brut to Extra Dry and from Sec or Demi-sec. The best way to understand the differences is of course to explore the Franciacorta area and visit famed destinations and wine makers such as Cà del Bosco, Bellavista, Radici Restaurant in Iseo and beautiful Hotel L’Albereta part of the Relais & Chateaux collection.

Francesco Barontini

Raised with bread and engines by my engineer dad, I soon discovered true love for the four wheels and turned passion into a profession. I’ve been a journalist since 2003 and I love to travel both in Italy or towards exotic destinations, preferbly on the road