Wine and Cheese: Franciacorta – the only true rival to champagne

Wine and Cheese: Franciacorta – the only true rival to champagne

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Franciacorta is a “classic method” sparkling wine made in the province of Brescia in Italy’s northern region of Lombardy. According to its DOCG (1995) regulations, Franciacorta can be made into a white or rosé sparkling wine, which can range from demisec (semisweet) all the way to extra brut (extremely dry).

Franciacorta is Italy’s highest-quality sparkling wine and is made using the same production method as champagne using pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. Aging requirements for Franciacorta are longer than champagne and most sell at a lower price.

While pinot noir is the only red grape permitted, white grape varieties include chardonnay, pinot bianco and erbamat (a local specialty). 

Franciacorta made with lower pressure in a brut style from chardonnay and pinot bianco grapes is called Satèn. A millesimato (vintage-dated) and riserva (aged over 5 years) styles are authorized.

Some recommended Franciacorta wines are:

2012 Monte Rossa “Cabochon” Brut (70% chardonnay/30% pinot noir). Full celery-apple bouquet; citrus notes along with bread dough; full-bodied, rich fruit flavored.

2014 Monogram, Castel Faglia “Dosage Zero” Millesimato (90% chardonnay/10% pinot noir). Bread toast bouquet with hints of green apple and celery. Medium-full bodied; melon, pear and citrus flavors.

2011 Corte Bianca, “Rosé” (100% pinot noir aged 3 years). Full berry nose; clean and crisp with flavors of cherry, cranberry, rhubarb, and raspberry. Full-bodied and full of flavor.

NV Ca’ del Bosco “Cuvée Prestige” (75% chardonnay/15% pinot noir/10% pinot bianco). Crisp, delicate bouquet; creamy in the mouth; hints of dried flowers, Bosc pears and Granny Smith apples.

2012 Bellavista Brut Millesimato (63% chardonnay/27% pinot noir). Straw-colored; pinpoint bubbles; bouquet of almonds, dried fruit and pears. Delicate with a strong, elegant aftertaste.

NV Cavalleri “Blanc de Blancs,” Brut (100% chardonnay). Apple and pear bouquet with hints of biscuits, celery and hazelnuts; well-balanced and quite dry with a long aftertaste.

NV Guido Berlucchi Rosé (60% pinot noir/40% chardonnay). Very fruity bouquet; plenty of pinot noir berries; good structure; balanced with an aftertaste of cranberries.

NV Majolini “Blanc de Noirs” Brut (100% pinot noir). Hint of color with a full fruity bouquet of strawberries and rhubarb. Hints of candy apple, black figs and wheat.

Cheese and sparkling wines are an extra special indulgence we need to enjoy more often. Some of my favorite cheeses to nibble on while sipping a “glass of bubbly” are Boursin, brie, blue cheese, Excelsior, Gruyere, manchego, Monterey Jack and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].