Ringing in the New Year with a bottle of something bubbly is a long-standing tradition. Champagne is the obvious go-to, but many revelers turn to other sparkling wines like Prosecco and Cava for a lighter-tasting option that’s usually lighter on their wallets, too. But forward thinking partiers seeking to start the new decade with something delicious, sparkling and new, bring a few bottles of Franciacorta to your NYE fête this year.
The sparkling wine Franciacorta is produced in the Province of Brescia in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, about a 90-minute drive east of Milan and approximately a 2-hour drive east of the Veneto region, where most Prosecco originates. Cameron Hughes of Cameron Hughes Wine says that unlike Prosecco, Franciacorta is DOCG-certified, the Italian version of the origin certification and verification the French and Spanish give their special sparklers and is a marker of better quality to oenophiles.
“Like Champagne and Cava, Franciacorta is a unique regional style of sparkling wine,” Hughes says. “Historically, despite being a country with more sparkling wine appellations than just about anyone, Italy actually had no specific appellation for dry sparkling wine until 1995, when Franciacorta was the first appellation to be given DOCG status to preserve its market integrity.”
The mainly Chardonnay grapes are grown on the hillsides within the microregion between the 3,200-year-old city of Brescia and Lake Iseo at the base of the Alps. It’s a warm inland climate tempered by the mountain range it abuts and a naturally high level of sugar in the fruit. As a result, there’s minimal need for dosage, the practice of adding sugar to wine to induce second fermentation—in fact, it’s often omitted entirely. These conditions are also ideal for organic viticulture and many winemakers in the area have adapted these chemical-free practices more gentle on earth—a small example of the major shifts we all must support in the coming decade.
But what does Franciacorta taste like? Italian Chardonnays are famous for their refreshing notes of citrus, apple and some stone fruit like apricot, black cherry and almond along with bread-like or doughy impressions on the palate bolstered by their crisp finish.
“For the wine enthusiast that’s a stickler for méthode traditionelle but wants to try something a little more out of the box, Franciacorta is a great and more affordable alternative” explains Hughes.
Franciacorta’s second fermentation, when the bubbles are made, occurs in-bottle, like Champagne, instead of in-tank like Prosecco. Franciacorta has a finer-quality effervescence that’s similar to, and so coveted in, its French cousin. It’s sure to pique the interest and satisfy the requirements of all three main types of wine drinkers—the traditionalists, the trend-conscious and the organic advocates—and so is the perfect type of bubbly to guarantee a festive entrance into the New Year for all.