Last Sunday I had the opportunity and the pleasure to know more about an excellence of Made in Italy. I went to Franciacorta in order to visit Berlucchi cellars. It was not just a simple taste but an exciting discovery of a really ancient Italian story. I’ve been so fascinated by this visit, so I decided to share with you what I’ve learned (although I guess some of you already know this).

I’d start telling you about the Franciacorta area. The first curiosity is about the name itself. Well, the name does not remind to a small France or even a more “ugly” France. The name is coming from the Latin “francae curtes”, which means “free court” (so an area which free from any kind of duty). Within the territory, viticulture is performed since the year 1000, for a total of 2900 hectares of vineyard. These are devoted to the cultivation of Chardonney (80%) and Pinot Nero and Pinot Bianco (20%). Among these, more than 500 hectares are occupied by Berlucchi vineyards.

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The story can now seem really easy, but moving from grapes to bottles is not so simple and quick. After having hand-picked every single cluster of grapes, these are squeezed and then divided into four different lots (according to the grape variety). After a chilled gravity-settling for clarity, the fermentation into vats (steel tanks or oak barrels) can finally take place. Some of these lots are then subjected to bâtonnage (more aromatic complexity and structure are added). Following the addition of liqueur de tirage, the bottles are placed into the historic cellars (really huge and wonderful I would say) for a period of time that varies from a minimum of 18 months to more than 6 years. After riddling and disgorgement, the bottles are finally labelled and ready for us.

You might be wondering how all of this has started, so I’ll give you some information. Looking for a consultant who could be able to improve his wine, Guido Berlucchi meets Franco Ziliani, a young enologist. Ziliani had a dream, he wanted to produce a classic-method wine in his native area (Franciacorta). So, he proposed to Berlucchi the idea of making a sparkling wine, a news for that territory, and he accepted (and his friend Lanciani joined the team). After having travelled to France and some less-than-satisfactory vintages, 1961 saw the change: 3000 bottles of Pinot Franciacorta have been corked and opened the following year. Are you curious to know the result? Well, I guess it’s obvious. The following years other two wines have been introduced: the first classic-method rosé and the Cellarius Milesimati (vintage-dated).

On Sunday, after the visit into the amazing cellars, I also had the opportunity to taste a Satèn, a Rosé and a Millesimato, so:

  • Berlucchi ’61 Franciacorta Satèn.
  • Berlucchi ’61 Franciacorta Rosé.
  • Berlucchi ’61 Franciacorta Nature 2009.

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If you are not sure whether go or not to Franciacorta, I’d just like to tell you going there and stopping to visit Berlucchi cellars. Until July 3rd, it’s possible to book a guided tour and a tasting, by choosing among three different itineraries:

  • I Classici. It includes the taste of two iconic Franciacortas: Cuvée Imperiale Franciacorta Brut and Berlucchi ’61 Franciacorta Satèn.
  • I Preziosi. It includes the taste of Berlucchi ’61 Franciacorta Satèn, Berlucchi ’61 Franciacorta Rosé and Berlucchi ’61 Franciacorta Nature 2009 (Millesimato).
  • Gli Esclusivi. It includes the taste of Berlucchi ’61 Franciacorta Nature 2009 (Millesimato), Palazzo Lana Franciacorta Extrême 2007 and Palazzo Lana Franciacorta Satèn 2006.

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You can book calling the number +39 030984381 or sending an e-mail to visit@berlucchi.it

Guido Berlucchi & C. – Duranti Plaza, 4, Corte Franca (BS)

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