Spotlight on Franciacorta: Italy’s Premier Sparkling
At Ferghettina, owner and winemaker, Laura Gatti explains they had three hailstorms, with the strongest occurring on August 18th in Cazzago San Martino (1 of the 19 Communes of Franciacorta). This forced Laura to pick her grapes earlier than usual (which was approved by the Ministero delle Politiche Agricole) with an alcoholic degree of 9.5%, vs the typical 10/10.5%. With polyphenolic maturation not fully completed in this vineyard, Laura will de-classify her wines to “still Curtefranca”, thus lowering the 2020 production volume of her sparkling wines. Most of Ferghettina’s vineyards are found in premium sites, such as Erbusco and Adro which were not affected by the storms, so Laura feels confident in the quality of her 2020 harvest.
The Osservatorio Spumanti (the Italian Observatory that watches the wine economy) reports that Italian sparkling wine sales hover around 1 billion euros. That is around 276 million bottles popped around the globe every year. Prosecco and Lambrusco are the heavyweights in those numbers, but Franciacorta, from Italy’s Lombardy region, is gaining popularity due to its elegance and complexity as well as the changing tastes of consumers.
Italy’s sparkling tradition dates back to biblical and Roman times, but it seems a doctor called Girolamo Conforti wrote about wines naturally fermented in bottle way back in 1570, when he described them as having “a piquant or biting flavor that does not dry out the palate like wines that are immature and austere, and that does not make the tongue soft like sweet wines.”*
A DOC since 1967 and a DOCG since 1995, Franciacorta is located in Lombardy east of Milan, in the Brescia province, and extends 125 miles up against Lago d’Iseo, the Oglio River and the city of Brescia itself. The unique morainic soil is rich in mineral content, lending complex aromas and flavors to the wines.
How Franciacorta is Made
Typically, grapes – Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco and Erbamat – are picked a tiny bit early to ensure acidity is high and are then fermented in tanks to create a base wine. The wine is then bottled with yeast and sugar to kick off secondary fermentation. As more alcohol is created, CO2 is created, giving the wines its long-lasting bubbly character.
The wines are aged, on fine lees, for 18-60 months (according to DOCG regulations) creating layers of flavors and aromas that greatly differ from those made with a tank method. These bottles can often stand up to cellaring, from a few years to many and even many, many.
Franciacorta Wine Profile
Small, persistent bubbles, great structure, complex, long-lasting on the palate. Aromas of fresh-baked bread, yeast, hazelnut, peach, apple, pear, citrus.
Ferghettina is located in Erbusco, right in the heart of Franciacorta. Known for its elegant wines, this winery favors long aging on fine lees and very little dosage. They use specially designed bottles that create more contact with the lees during the aging process. True ambassadors of the zone, the winery aims to highlight the terroir and the grapes’ personality through skillful blending and aging.
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