Franciacorta: Italy’s Answer to Champagne

Adam Arlen

, Happy Hour

Prosecco may lead in production but Franciacorta is the answer to Champagne

Prosecco leads the production of sparkling wine in Italy by a country mile. Of the 300 million bottles of sparkling wine produced in Italy, a mere 8 million come from Franciacorta. Located in the northern region of Lombardy, the region benefits from the cool mountain air rolling down into the area and extends the growing season.


The history

The history of the region goes back to the 1950s, where the Berlucchi family tried to make a Champagne style wine from the region. The wine was well received, and other producers quickly followed their lead. The DOC was created by law in 1967 and promoted to DOCG in 1995.


The grapes

The wines are made from predominantly Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc but a few other grapes are also authorized. The wines must have extended lees contact in the bottle, just as in Champagne. The rolling hills of the region with long, sunny days gives way to cool nights, preserving the precious acidity that makes these wines sing. The Italian Alps to the north protect the area from the cold, continental climate so common of Central Europe.


A hidden gem well worth the price

The rigorous production methodology with the extended lees aging requirements does put the price point for these wines a lot higher than you see for Prosecco, but doesn’t compare to the prices you can see coming out of Champagne’s Tete du Cuvees. This area is a hidden gem for all sparkling wine lovers.


What I am drinking:

2011 Fratelli Berlucchi Franciacorta Freccianera Rosa 2011

It starts with soft, foamy mousse with long-lasting cordon around the glass; fine, lingering bead with intense pink color. The nose starts with elegant hints of wild berries and ripe fruit, nicely blended with subtle nuances of yeast and crusty bread. Heady, warm quality from the brief Pinot Nero maceration on the skins during vinification. Refined and elegant with exceptional acidity and full body. The acidity is balanced well by the medium-high sugar content.



Perfect as an aperitif, it will also pair well with various cold meats and charcuterie, full-flavored first courses and fully matured cheeses. Pairing with shellfish enhances its impressive structure.



Feature and banner images courtesy
Freccianera label image courtesy Cellar Tracker




Adam Arlen, Sommelier


Adam Arlen: “I am passionate about wine because it is history in a bottle.” He is the sommelier for The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Originally from Allentown, PA, he believes you should always branch out and find new things. His goal is to never stop learning and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. A fun fact about him: “I was a nuclear engineer on a submarine in a previous life.”





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