Franciacorta! Ever heard of it? Franciacorta is a sparkling wine from the Province of Brescia (Lombardy) with DOCG status, located on the hills located between the southern shore of Lake Iseo and the city of Brescia.
Where’s that? Italy. The top of the boot in the center; in between Piedmont and The Tre Venezie.
If you’re drinking a bubbly from Italy, there is a very strong chance that bubbly is Prosecco, but did you know that there’s another bubbly called Franciacorta, and has more like Champagne than Prosecco?
Honest! And it’s growing in popularity.
The still wines from Franciacorta have ancient traditions and documented in Brescia City council books as "Franzacurta" as far back as in 1277. The Middle Ages! But the sparkling wines are new and only been made since 1961. Prosecco as we know has been around for hundreds.
The difference between Prosecco and Franciacorta is the way each of the wines is made.
In the case of Prosecco, is made using what is known as the Charmat method. It’s a faster and cheaper way to create quality sparkling wine. In this method, the wine is transferred from its first fermentation vat to a large sealed pressurized tank where it undergoes secondary fermentation to create the carbonation. Then the carbonated wine is bottled and shipped to market. The result is a wine that is bubbly with delicious hints of fruit and freshness.
Franciacorta, on the other hand, is made the exact same way winemakers in France make Champagne.
The Method Champenoise or the Traditional Method, Franciacorta receives its bubbles by allowing a secondary fermentation to occur in the bottle. During this fermentation the CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) that’s created is absorbed into the wine, it does not escape and creates the bubbles we’ve come to love in Champagne. This process also usually means the wine is drier with a yeastier and less fruity character than Prosecco. This process of “sur lie” aging is what many say makes wines made in this method more complex.
Furthermore, there is another major distinct difference between Prosecco and Franciacorta. It’s the grapes used to make each of the wines. In Prosecco the grape is Glera, a white grape that has been grown in the Veneto and Friuli regions for hundreds of years. It’s a grape with high acidity, which makes it perfect for bubbly.
Franciacorta uses Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc, which are the grapes also used to make Champagne. Just like Champagne... Franciacorta — it’s the name of the wine and the name of the region where it’s made Just like Champagne... it's a warmer region than the chilly Champagne region, so the grapes are riper and fuller, which results in a wine that is not as racy and/or have the minerality that the Champagne region does. It’s a rounder profile but with the the designations for dosage exactly like those in Champagne.
Do the differences really matter? Only if you try them and enjoy how one, or both, taste.
Seek it out.