18 November 2021, The Tablet

Bubbling under

From the vineyard

Bubbling under


IF ITALY'S best-known fizz is Prosecco, Franciacorta is its best-loved fizz, as well as its best-kept secret. Little known outside of Italy, Italy’s answer to Champagne comes from a tiny area of Lombardy, Northern Italy, covering just over 2,000 hectares in the hills at the foot of Lake Iseo.

It is produced from two of Champagne’s classic varieties, chardonnay and pinot noir, sometimes with a little pinot blanc. Unlike Prosecco, where fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats, Franciacorta is made using the méthode champenoise, in which a secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle.

But though they share the same method of production and are comparable in taste and quality, Champagne and Franciacorta are very different in both scale and history. While Champagne has been produced for at least 350 years, Franciacorta in its present form was invented only 50 years ago and received its DOCG barely 25 years after that; and some of the largest Champagne houses produce ten times more wine each year than all Franciacorta producers combined.

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