Most Champagne fans already know that you can't call sparkling wine Champagne if it's made anywhere other than the Champagne region in France. So, no, that bottle of California bubbly is not technically Champagne.
And while Champagne may the most well-known variety of sparkling wine, it's far from the only one. You're probably already familiar with Prosecco, or Cava, or even Almond Sparkling Wine, but there's another lesser-known version that deserves your attention too: Franciacorta.
Franciacorta, Italy, is an Italian wine region located in Northern Italy, about an hour outside of Milan and just South of Lake Iseo. Here, sparkling wine is a lifestyle, and the producers make some of the best—in Italy, and elsewhere. Here’s what you should know about the style of wine that takes its name from the region. (And I highly recommend a visit, should your travels take you to Italy.)
How Franciacorta Is Made and What Sets It Apart
While Prosecco has become synonymous with Italian Sparkling wine, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. There are far more bubbly styles to be explored from the country—and one of them is Franciacorta.
Unlike Prosecco, it’s made in the same style as Champagne, that is, the metodo classico or the method champenoise. It’s fermented first (much like all wine), then left to rest, then a second in-bottle fermentation takes place—this is when the bubbles are created. Prosecco, on the other hand, is fermented the second time outside of the bottle.
Specific guidelines s are in place for a sparkling wine to be true Franciacorta, as it has both DOC and DOCG (the highest quality designation for Italian wines) categorization. In particular, only certain types of grapes are allowed, and the wine has to age a particular amount of time in bottle, which leads to the complexity (the dried fruits, the pastry-like breadiness) you taste when drinking these special bubbly wines.
While both the DOC and DOCG categorization are fairly new—1967 and 1995, respectively—the region has been making wine for hundreds of years. And it knows what it’s doing.
Ready to try Franciacorta for yourself? These three bottles are a great place to start.