Franciacorta Spumante Metodo Classico wine guide
Franciacorta is one of Italy’s most prestigious and famous wines and competes with Trentodoc, Alta Langa, and Oltrep Pavese for the title of “king of classic method sparkling wines.” It is a structured, elegant, fragrant wine with fine perlage and great character. However, you will find infinite interpretations of this sparkling wine.
Unlike Champagne, the percentages of the individual vines are very permissive and you can play a lot on blends, refinements and percentages of sugar to create various types of Franciacorta sparkling wines. But fear not, we will give you all the information about it to understand and catalog each sparkling wine produced in the rolling hills of Lake Iseo, but first, let’s see the production process of the classic Franciacorta method.
How Franciacorta sparkling wine is produced
The method is the classic one, the champenoise, “invented” by the legendary monk Dom Perignon, the Magnum P.I. bubbles. The harvest is early. The main feature sought is acidity, so they are harvested early and not fully ripe yet.
The bunches are pressed and the first fermentation takes place.
Then the flavor of Franciacorta is created by assembling different wines, vintages and grape varieties. The assembly is the creation in itself. The cuvée is created, as the French would say. Many wineries have an easily recognizable style, which characterizes and makes their wines unique, but sometimes always very similar.
Finding the right balance, structure, amalgamation of flavors and at the same time maintaining the right acidity is all a matter of sensitivity of the winemaker.
At this point, the wine is bottled, must and yeasts are added, the cork is put on and the wine is left to rest for at least 18 months.
In this period, the wine rests on the yeasts, is refined and a second fermentation takes place, refermentation in the bottle. The acidity is high and therefore, the wine maintains its freshness. The sugar is transformed into alcohol and carbon dioxide, hence the bubbles and the flavors-aromas of bread crust and pastry.
It is now that the wine matures and begins its evolution. The yeasts decay, work more slowly as the sugar is transformed. Complexity expands and pervades the wine.
Said like this, it seems almost effortless, but remember that wine is alive. It grows, changes, and needs to be treated every day. And storage is also essential. The temperature must be constant. To have the best “rest conditions,” you need the right amount of humidity and darkness. It’s no coincidence that many Franciacorta wineries have underground dungeons where the wine is stored.
When the refinement is complete, it is moved to remuage. The bottle is placed on the pupitres, tilted at 45 degrees upside down, and then gently rotated. In this way, the remains of the yeasts accumulate in the bottle’s neck under the cap, freeze and uncork to eliminate the ice disc, the disgorgement, dégorgement in French.
At this point, the last corrections are made before bottling with topping up, adding the liqueur d’expedition, that is, sugar and Franciacorta wine. And this brings us to the classification of sparkling wines.
The classification of Franciacorta sparkling wines
The purest is pas dosé, no sugar is added and has a maximum sugar residue of 3 grams per liter. Virtually imperceptible to the palate.
Extra Brut up to 6 grams per liter. Brut reaches a maximum of 12 grams per liter. Extra Dry tolerates a range between 12 and 17 grams of sugar per liter, still rocky.
The Dry is softer. You begin to feel a hint of sweetness, 17-32 grams of sugar.
And then we close with the Franciacorta Demi-Sec, 32-50 grams of sugar per liter, which is excellent with desserts or for pairings with fish and sweet and sour dishes (Riesling style).
Which grape varieties can be used to produce Franciacorta sparkling wine?
Erbamat, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, to a lesser extent Pinot Blanc. Erbamat, the ancient vine from Brescia with a late-ripening but with great acidity, is allowed up to a maximum of 10% and tends to reinforce the acidity of wines, even in challenging harvests as it ripens a month later.
The style of classic method sparkling wine
Franciacorta, the first step, the entry-level wine. Fresh, mineral, and crystalline in the aromas of citrus, peach, and yeast notes like bread crust. It is not too complex and focuses on drinkability and agility. Aging for at least 18 months on the lees.
Franciacorta Satèn. From silk. It is softer and rounder. Structure and acidity are always in the foreground. With this wine, they try to attract consumers who want a more approachable product, with slightly more ripe fruit, thanks to a more significant contribution of Pinot Blanc. Obviously, the more biting Pinot Noir is not contemplated.
Franciacorta Rosé can be produced with only Pinot Noir (Blanc de Noir) or Pinot Noir blended with Chardonnay and Blanc. It increases the structure and intensity. It is more musky, dark and with wood and marine references reminiscent of algae.
Franciacorta Millesimato: a rare pearl of great finesse and depth: in practice, you will see the vintage on the label because it is worth it. In exceptional vintages, it is a must to enhance the goodness and organoleptic quality of this vintage and then the wine is produced only with the grapes of this vintage. But also the aging is superior and must spend 30 months on the lees.
Franciacorta Riserva: when the vintage becomes “poetry in the bottle” They are small-batch wines made to show off not only a great year but also a certain cru, which needs 60 months on the lees to develop all of its charm. The aromas become complex and sumptuous. The fruit becomes almost candied, toasted, and balsamic. The dried fruit takes hold, the yeasts open into a thousand creamy shades, and become smooth. The acidity remains vigorous but blends and merges with the flavor.
History of Franciacorta Wine
Franciacorta vineyards and wineries to visit, Spring in Franciacorta, sparkling wine Its history is linked (as with many superb wines) to the Benedictine monks, who lived in the Middle Ages in the Brescia hills near Lake Iseo. Their possessions were “franchae curtes” free zones, exempt from taxes and levies by feudal lords. And the monks, who had retired to the convents, carved this land by planting and cultivating the vine.
But paradoxically, red wines have always been produced, so much so that red was famous in this area even in Roman times, according to Pliny the Elder. But then came the light, or rather Guido Berlucchi, who created the first sparkling wine and began the massive investments and widespread vine cultivation.
The merit is all of the rocky soils made of morainic stones that drain a lot and manage to capture the heat during the day and release it at night, keeping the vines in a perfect temperate microclimate.
Franciacorta is a relatively narrow hilly area just northwest of Brescia, overlooking the southern side of Lake Iseo, which flows into the Oglio river. The Rhaetian Alps act as a barrier, protecting the vineyards from cold winds on the other side. In practice, it is a sort of small paradise, which, thanks to the influence of the lake, manages to create a unique microclimate for the vine.
Well, we said almost everything. This page is to be considered a general guideline. It is true that many “heretical” producers have broken away from the rules of the consortium and are proposing very courageous and pure Franciacorta sparkling wines—we could say, less stylized and with an incredible territorial character.
The area is fragmenting, new styles are emerging, in short, there is excitement. Some use only indigenous yeasts or do not add sugar or try to make rocky and scratchy sparkling wines, so go and explore Franciacorta in every corner and don’t think of finding the tables of the ten commandments in the cellar.
Freshness, flavor and structure are the strengths, so dare not only with fish, sushi, appetizers with salami and fried cake, but also parmigiana ravioli, spaghetti with clams, chicken tikka masala, Chicken Cacciatore, Vitello Tonnato, truffle risotto, pasta alla carbonara.