Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Franciacorta, important wine region in the hills immediately east of Brescia, with a relatively short history of producing traditional method sparkling wine from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with some Pinot Bianco. Its name is a corruption of the medieval Francae Curtes, Curtes meaning communes and Francae meaning ‘exempt of taxes’, referring to the region’s privileged position at the time.

Spread over 19 villages, the area is also demarcated as DOC Curtefranca (formerly known as Terre di Franciacorta) for still white and red wines made from international varieties. In the 1980s and 1990s these answers to Bordeaux and Burgundy, often treated to lavish amounts of new oak, sold well but are now overshadowed by Franciacorta’s sparkling success. Franciacorta’s history begins in 1961 with the release of the first traditional method sparkling wine ever to be produced in the region by the house of Guido Berlucchi. The resulting demand for Berlucchi wines attracted a series of able entrepreneurs from Milan and Brescia to invest in Franciacorta.