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Discovering the origins of Franciacorta

The Italian competitor of Champagne

Claudia Astarita

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Is there any difference between Franciacorta and Champagne? Yes and no, the Australian wine educator Avery Affholter would probably reply. In an article published on the magazine Italianicious, the expert explains that while Franciacorta is 100 per cent Italian and Champagne 100 per cent French, these two sparkling wines have many things in common.

In particular, it is important to highlight that the method of production for the Italian Franciacorta is metodo classico, which Affholter claims being interchangeable with méthode traditionnelle or champenoise used for the French Champagne. This method makes the wine undergoing "a secondary fermentation within the bottle. The resulting sparkling wine is characterized by a fine, persistent, effervescent bead".

The difference with other sparkling wines is huge as Prosecco, another Italian sparkler, is known for getting its bubbles from the Charmat method, which means that "the secondary fermentation occurs in large tanks, rather than in the bottle".

If this is the case, we can argue that the final choice between Franciacorta and Champagne would be all about taste and personal preferences. For example, Affholter explains that "some consider Franciacorta to be a richer style of sparkling wine compared to Champagne, and this is due to the location of Franciacorta being a bit more southerly than the area of Champagne. Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco, the varieties of grapes used in each style, tend to produce a less acidic profile in the Franciacorta vineyards, than those grown in Champagne".

At the moment, the production of Franciacorta is limited. According to the data collected by Italianicious, "Franciacorta only exports between 11 and 15 per cent of what it produces, whereas France exports about 50 percent of its Champagne. Overall production in Franciacorta comes from about 100 producers growing grapes over a total of about 6700 acres, which are bound by the most rigorous production code in Europe". This does not mean that Franciacorta is not growing or is less appreciated. Indeed, its sales are increasing quite rapidly, although its future still depends on "the entrepreneurial spirit and persistence of a small community of growers and vignaioli".

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