Franciacorta's Golden Hour
Champagne, Cava and …Franciacorta? Most lovers of classic method sparkling wine are familiar with the famed first two in the list, but few know of Franciacorta, Italy’s best-kept secret from the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Like Cava and Champagne, Franciacorta achieves its elegant effervescence thanks to secondary fermentation in the bottle—the “classic method”—and is limited to a specific geographic territory.
Granted, Franciacorta is to Champagne what David is to Goliath. The French region boasts production power that is almost 20 times larger than Franciacorta (5,400 acres of vineyard compared to 80,000 acres in Champagne). The Italian region counts just over 100 producers next to 19,000 vignerons and Champagne houses in France. Franciacorta’s marketing footprint is also stunted by small export numbers. Only 11 percent of its bottles are sold abroad, compared to 40 to 60 percent in other important Italian wine regions.
Yet, this tightly knit community of winemakers drives what is one of the most dynamic and fastest-growing wine identities in Europe. Production numbers soared from 2.9 million bottles to 6.7 million bottles in the 10 years starting from 1996.
“In just 50 years we have reached a standard of quality that no one else in the world has been able to achieve,” says Maurizio Zanella, of the Ca’ del Bosco winery and president of the Consorzio per la Tutela del Franciacorta: “Our acreage is not huge, so the task at hand is to maximize what we have.”