The Cradle of Franciacorta

The entrance to the winery Guido Berlucchi in Franciacorta.

Just a few stone throws away from Milan between Brescia, Lake Garda and Trento, south of Lake Iseo lies the area known as Franciacorta.

Franciacorta is one of Italy’s finest regions for wine and it is especially famous for it’s sparkling wines. MY-MILANO.COM had the occasion to visit the cradle of Franciacorta, the winery of Guido Berlucchi.

What most people don’t know is that the phenomenon Franciacorta is quite young and as it often happens in Italy, it is thanks to creativity, persistence of an individual and the merit of excellence. There had always been some limited wine production in that region but it was mostly for home consumption and it was only of average quality.

Franco Ziliani, a young guy who had just finished his studies of Enology in Alba, was called by Guido Berlucchi to solve a few problems they had with their wine. And he was able to increase the quality of their wine.

But Franco Ziliani had a dream and inspiration “Champagne”. He believed he could produce a similar sparkling wine in Berlucchi’s winery and as he had done a good job so far, Guido Berlucchi gave him a try. It was a courageous enterprise, as the region did not even have the equipment or expertise to produce such wine that fermented in bottles and therefore needed special treatment, care and storage. After countless attempts, in 1961 Ziliani achieved to produce 3000 bottles of excellent sparkling wine. This wine was baptized “Pinot di Franciacorta” and this was the first time that the name “Franciacorta” appeared on a bottle of wine and it gave a new name and destiny to the entire region.

Visiting the winery of Guido Berlucchi today one can see the original cellar in which the first bottles were made and you can see how much more space has been created enlarging that original cellar for today’s modern production of “Spumante Metodo Classico” Sparkling wine made according to the “champenoise” or traditional method. The “remuage” - the regular turning of the bottles by hand has been replaced by a “remuage” done by machines. The “degorgement” – the removal of the crown cap in a way that the bottle pressure forces out the lees –is done with a sophisticated modern technique.

Bottles prepared for a traditional remuage done by hand

Remuage today

A guide explains the entire production procedure and you realize that it needs a lot of know how, chemistry and equipment to produce the famous “bollicine” – the bubbles in a wine.We were even so lucky to be able to see the performance of a “sabrage” – the art of opening a bottle of spumante with one stroke of a saber. An antique tradition that was born back in the past in France when the elegant officers of the military did not have the time or the patience to open the bottles in an ordinary way.

Visits to the Guido Berlucchi Winery are possible for everybody.If you are in a group you can call to fix an appointment to see the amazing winery, the cellar and the productions halls. If you are alone just call to see when the next visit takes place that you can join.Of course you can do a tasting and buy a lot of bottles to take home. Choose the ones that you don’t get easily in ordinary shops like “Cellarius Brut” or “Cuveé Storica”.

And if you are lucky you might be able so see Mr. Ziliani himself.

Piazza Duranti, 4
25040 Borgonato (Brescia)
Tel.: +39 030984381

Apart from the winery of “Guido Berlucchi” there are of course a lot of other wineries where wine tastings and visits can be done.

To complete your visit at Franciacorta have lunch at:

SANTA GIULIA restaurant
Via C. Battisti, 7
25040 Timoline di Franciacorta
Tel.: +39 0309848350

If you want to stay on check in at:

Via Manzoni, 29
25040 Colombaro di Corte Franca
Tel.: +39 030 9884234

A luxurious country hotel with a stunning view over Lake Iseo.

BNF Apr 08

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