Prosecco rules. I love the affordability, the bright bubbles, the crispness and acidity of the wine… it is good, inexpensive sparkling wine. But Prosecco is not the only bubbly from Italy: Franciacorta is another delicious sparkler that is worth a try.
What makes it different than Prosecco? Unlike Prosecco, which is made from the Glera (aka “Prosecco” grape), Franciacorta sparkling wine must be made from 85% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), and 5% Pinot Bianco. The result is a sparkling wine that is a bit rounder than Prosecco (and more similar to a Champagne, which also uses Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes). The methods used to create bubbles in both of these sparkling wines is also different: Prosecco uses the more inexpensive Charmat method, where the wine’s secondary fermentation that creates bubbles occurs in steel tanks; whereas Franciacorta uses the metodo classico, a traditional method of slowly turning the bottles and allowing the secondary fermentation/bubble process to occur in the bottle. The result are softer, longer-lasting, more refined bubbles. (Read more about these two processes here.)
All Franciacorta is aged on its lees, (exposed to the yeasts after they consumed all of the grape juice sugars, converted them to alcohol, and then expired). The result of lees aging is a more complex, rounder wine with a fuller body. The rule is for non-vintage wines to be on the lees for 18 months and vintage wines to be on the lees for 30 months; wines are not released for a further seven months after this period is complete.
Types of Franciacorta
There are several types of Franciacorta.
- Nonvintage Franciacorta (NV) may not be released until at least 25 months after harvest, of which 18 months must be in contact with the yeast in the bottle (compared to 15 months in the case of Champagne).
- Franciacorta Vintage or Millesimato may not be sold until at least 37 months after harvest, of which 30 months must be in contact with the yeast (similar to Champagne).
- A Franciacorta rosé must contain at least 15% Pinot nero, and may be made by blending red wine.
- Franciacorta Satèn must be a Blanc de blancs (French for “white wine from white grapes) using solely Chardonnay and/or Pinot bianco.
Because of the more costly process, Franciacorta wines are a tab more expensive than Prosecco, which tends to be incredibly affordable. Is it still worth a try? Absolutely. I think Franciacorta is a great gift to newlyweds or a nice summer brunch wine, and it a great conversation starter at your next dinner party.