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Italy's real sparkling wine, Franciacorta

Franciacorta is Italy’s answer to Champagne. Located in Lombardia in the north of Italy, the area of Franciacorta is just south of the Alps and surrounded by large lakes that make this the perfect place to grow grapes. Still wines were made in this area since Roman times, but they were not as distinctive as other regions of Italy.
Berlucchi, one of Franciacorta’s wineries was convinced by a young winemaker Franco Ziliani to make some sparkling wine in late 1950’s. The wines were an instant hit and Ziliani was allowed to increase production the following year and today Berlucchi is the leading producer of Franciacorta.
Franciacorta wines were elevated to DOCG status in 1995. The must be made in the Metodo Classico, using secondary fermentation in the bottle. The permitted grapes are Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco. Wine Enthusiast breaks down the different aging qualifications, “Franciacorta wines are either nonvintage, released at least 25 months after harvest, or vintage (millesimato). Vintage Franciacorta is released 37 months after the harvest, and like Champagne, must see prolonged contact with yeasts in the bottle for increased depth, persistence and elegance.”
Saten style Franciacorta is brut and only uses white grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco; it is similar in style to Champagne’s Blanc to Blanc.
Some Franciacortas to look for include Baroni Pizzini, Saten, Franciacorta, DOCG, 2008, the first certified organic Franciacorta produced.
Ricci Curbastro, Saten Brut, Franciacorta, DOCG, 2009 is fermented in oak barrels witch give it some color and some nice toasty notes.
From the family who created sparkling Franciacorta, enjoy some Guido Berlucchi, Rose NV, DOCG. This elegant sparkler has great fruit characteristics. Berlucchi is also the largest winery in the region.
Ca’ Del Bosco, Annamaria Clementi Riserva Franciacorta, DOCG, 2004 is named for the winery owner’s mother. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero, this wine is aged for an incredible 7-½ years before being released. It has plenty of dried fruit characteristics with hints of sweetness with a long silky finish.
While Champagne is easy to find on store shelves, Franciacorta is harder to locate. Only the best wine shops with knowledgeable staffs tend to stock these special wines. Champagne also has had a long head start having been produced for over 300 years. Franchiacorta in comparison has been around for less than a 100 years. Make sure to search out these great wines and enjoy them!

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