The sparkling wine born just over 50 years ago on the hillside around Lake Iseo (Brescia) is the result of the project by a group of 11 pioneers, who – in the postwar period – began experimenting wine production using the champagne-making technique.
The name derives from Franzacurta, a toponym mentioned in 1277, referring to the monasteries founded by the Cluniac order, which were exempt (in Latin, francae) from payment of the tithe owed to the bishop on goods being delivered to the city of Brescia.
Franciacorta is obtained by means of bottle refermentation and disgorging techniques. Its base is Chardonnay and/or Pinot Nero grapes. It may contain small percentages of Pinot Bianco and Erbamat, an ancient indigenous vine from the Brescia area. The ageing on lees lasts 18 to 60 months, depending on the version.
In 1967 the Franciacorta was awarded the designation of controlled origin (DOC), and its first production guidelines were issued. Only 9 winemakers sold it, in just a few thousand bottles.
In 1995 it earned the designation of controlled origin (DOCG), namely the highest level of safeguard possible.
Today, thanks to 2,800 hectares (about 6,920 acres) of vineyards in 18 townships, 17 million bottles of Franciacorta are produced in the Satèn, Rosé, Millesimato, and Riserva versions.
According to Tom Stevenson, author of the World Encyclopedia of Champagne and Sparkling Wine, “The right place for Franciacorta is a high-end restaurant. Its quality is surprising”.