Franciacorta is a hilly area in Lombardy, bounded to the north by the shores of lake Iseo, to the south by Mount Orfano, to the east by rocky, morainic hills and to the west by the left bank of the river Oglio.
It has an area of about 200 square kilometres and comprises 19 municipalities in the province of Brescia, a territory that enjoys an incredible wealth in minerals, a fundamental feature for quality agriculture. The favorable climate, the minerals and the particular structure of the ground create optimum conditions for cultivating vines.
There is no historical record as to the name “FRANCIACORTA” but the most accredited theory to date is that the term derives from “curtes francae”, in Italian “corti franche”, meaning areas exempt from the payment of taxes. In the Upper Middle Ages, small communities of Benedictine monks had settled in the area in question, dedicating themselves to the reclamation of the fields and the cultivation of the land. Thanks to this activity they were exempted from the payment of duties for the trade in their produce.
In 1995 Franciacorta was granted DOCG(Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) status, the highest recognition of quality and typical nature of origin. The production according to the Franciacorta Method, perfected by the Supervisory Consortium, has its special guidelines, which further enhance the quality.
The Chardonnay vine, a highly prized white-grape variety, has been cultivated in Franciacorta for some decades and covers more than 2,000 hectares of vineyard, about 80% of the total.
The plant, of medium vigor, has a normally compact bunch, featuring pale green leaves; the grapes are yellow tending to green, with a robust, thick skin. The wine obtained from this grape has an intense, fragrant and complex aroma, with hints of fruit and flowers, a good structure and a pleasant freshness. It is used principally in the production of Franciacorta DOCG base wines and to a lesser degree to produce Curtefranca Bianco, a still wine.
The second vine by diffusion is Pinot Nero, which occupies about 15% of the total area.
Originating in Burgundy, it has a behaviour that does not always adapt uniformly to the environment in which it is planted, but if vinified on the skins or made into sparkling wine it can produce some excellent results.
The plant is fairly robust and rustic, with normal-lobed and/or five-lobed dark green leaves.
The pine-cone shaped bunch is small in size and very densely packed.
It is used in the Vintages and the Reserves of Franciacorta DOCG, because it makes them structured and long-lasting.
It is an indispensable component In the Franciacorta Rosé cuvée and must represent at least 25% of the blend.
Pinot Bianco is the third Franciacorta vine variety and belongs to the great family of Pinots of French origin.
It has now reached 5% of the cultivation.
The plant is vigorous with intense-green leaves, the bunch exhibits fewer golden hues than Chardonnay and is also more compact. In the production of Franciacorta base wines and in Curtefranca Bianco still wines, it is not used in single-variety wine-making but in a maximum percentage of 50%.
The wine has a full, elegant body, a good fixed acidity and its intense aroma recalls the crusty fragrance of freshly-baked bread; after evolution, there are intense hints of almond.