It is the Franciacorta method which guarantees the quality of every single bottle, even today.
Strict, thoroughgoing regulations to obtain absolutely top quality wines: using solely noble grape varieties picked by hand, natural second fermentation in the bottle and then slow ageing on the lees for no fewer than 18 months, 30 months for single vintage wines and a grand total of 60 months for Riservas.
Franciacorta is made with Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco, with up to 50% of this latter allowed. A new grape, Erbamat, has recently been added, to a maximum of 10%.
Franciacorta: the harvest
Maximum yields allowed in Franciacorta vineyards are 12 tons of grapes per hectare. The harvest must be done by hand. It takes place from the first ten days of August to the first ten days of September, depending on the vintage.
Soft pressing of the grapes produces free-run juice for Franciacorta base wines which are blended for preparing cuvées in the next spring.
The first fermentation occurs in tanks and then, in spring, producers start to blend cuvées using wines from different grape varieties and vineyards, included “vin de reserve”.
After the cuvées have been blended sugar and yeasts are added for the second slow fermentation.
During the lees ageing, the bottle which have been hold in horizontal position for many months are put onto tilted trestles called pupitres and rotated every day to encourage the sediments to settle in the neck of the bottle.
After ageing the bottles, which have been in horizontal position for many months, are put onto tilted trestles called pupitres and rotated every day to encourage the sediments to settle in the neck of the bottle.
The crown cap is removed and liqueur d’expédition made up of Franciacorta base wine is added. The appropriate amount of sugar is also added to obtain the various styles of Franciacorta: Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Sec or Demi-sec. For Franciacorta Pas Dosé only base wine is added.
Application of the state stamp
Before it can be sold Franciacorta bottles have a state stamp label attached to them which guarantees their origin and quality.
The various types of Franciacorta have different amounts of liqueur d’expédition, added after disgorging, in them. Various types of Franciacorta are obtained with different amounts of residual sugar:
- Pas Dosé: Up to 3 g/l of sugar
- Extra Brut: Less than 6 g/l of sugar
- Brut: Less than 12 g/l of sugar
- Extra Dry: 12-17 g/l of sugar
- Sec or Dry: 17-32 g/l of sugar
- Demi Sec: 33-50 g/l of sugar