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Franciacorta is Italy's answer to Champagne.
Franciacorta's sparkling wines were promoted to DOCG status (the highest level of Italian wine classification) in 1995.
Located in Lombardy, northern Italy, Franciacorta is widely regarded as Italy's finest sparkling wine. Made from Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir, with the use of Pinot Blanc permitted up to 50%, while this quantity vary based on the five different types: Franciacorta, Franciacorta Satèn, Franciacorta Rosé, Franciacorta Millesimato and Franciacorta Riserva.
Different types of Franciacorta are characterised by the different dosage (doses of liquor added after disgorgement): Pas Dosé or Dosage zéro, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec or Dry, Demi-Sec. These designations for dosage are exactly as those of Champagne (except for Pas opéré, or nature).
All Franciacorta wine is made by the Méthode Champenoise*, the best Champagne is also made by this method. Bottle-aged on its lees, to increase its complexity and flavour integration. The ageing period is 18 months for the non-vintage wines, 24 months for the rosé and satèn, 30 months for the vintage-marked millesimato and an impressive 60 months for riserva wines. The rigorous production methods, coupled with small production volumes, go some way to justifying the relatively high price tag of Franciacorta wines.
*Excerpt from Wine Spectator Glossary: Méthode Champenoise - The labor-intensive and costly process whereby wine undergoes a secondary fermentation inside the bottle, creating bubbles. All Champagne and most high-quality sparkling wine is made by this process. Also known as méthode traditionnelle or metodo classico.