Franciacorta is not prosecco. We couldn’t start this post by writing kind of clearly that the wines from this little region west of the city of Brescia do not belong to the prosecco category for two reasons: the production process and the region of origin. This does not mean that a prosecco is better than a Franciacorta but when it comes to wines there’s nothing worst than go like “well…it’s kinda the same thing…”
The production process of the Franciacorta
The production process of the Franciacorta follows the “Metodo Classico (Classic Method)” which is the same one used by the French for the production of Champagne. It requires that the grapes are harvested when they are optimally ripe. Towards spring, once the first fermentation in the tank has been completed it’s time for the “Cuvée” i.e mixing wines from different years.
The next step would be to add a syrup known as “liquer de tirage” to trigger a second fermentation.
Within 2-3 months, the sugars present in the wine are exhausted due to the effect of the yeast present in the syrup, the pressure inside the bottle reaches 5-6 atmospheres. It’s then the time for the bottles to lie in a horizontal position for a period of time that spans from the 24 to the 48 months.
When the yeast has completed its task two other actions must be taken. First the “remuage” and then the “degorgement”.
The purpose of the “remuage” is to collect the deposit in the neck of the bottle. This ancient procedure consists of very gradually turning each bottle on itself, making it go from a horizontal position to a vertical position.
This process aims at eliminating the deposit in the neck of the bottle obtained through the “remuage” process” It can be done in two different ways:
Manually ( also known by its French name “A la volée”)
Each bottle is uncorked manually. The internal pressure favors the expulsion of the cork and pushes the solid residues outwards, as well as a minimum quantity of wine.
The skill of the cellarman lies in reducing the quantity of wine expelled with the solid residue, bringing the bottle back on axis, with a quick movement of the wrist.
Mechanical (also known by its french name “A la glacée”)
The basis of this operation is the freezing of the neck of the bottle, carried out using special machinery.
Once the solid residues have been frozen and can no longer dirt the liquid, the bottles are straightened, placed on a conveyor belt and then uncorked by special mechanical devices. The internal pressure causes the frozen part to come out eliminating the solid that were stored in the upper part of the neck.
Finally the “Metodo Classico” requires the addition of the “liqueur d’expedition“, a mixture based on sugar, wine and other secret ingredients which replaces the part of wine that was lost with disgorgement.
The production process of the prosecco
In order to obtain a good, refreshing and sparkling prosecco the production process must be based on another method. The prosecco is obtained through the “Metodo Charmat (Charmat method)”. This method requires the fermentation in a larger container. This sparkling winemaking system is quicker and cheaper, ideal for a modest wine, characterized by fresh aromas, and not longeval.
Franciacorta is not prosecco. It comes from another region
Franciacorta DOCG, a controlled and guaranteed designation of origin, is produced in Lombardy, in the area west of Brescia, from the hills of Monte Orfano to the area of Lake Iseo.
The grapes permitted by the specifications for the production of this wine are Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir. The use of Pinot Bianco is also permitted, up to a maximum of 50%.
Prosecco is instead produced in the area between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in Veneto, from Glera grapes, although the use of minor grapes subject to regulation is also permitted.