Above: a Google Earth shot, looking north toward Lake Iseo from the Barone Pizzini winery (the small red dot).
Franciacorta and its wines are entirely misunderstood in the U.S. It’s partly due to the way that the wines have been marketed here. But it’s also due to the fact that Franciacorta is still very young as an appellation and the fact that the winemakers themselves are still in the process of conveying to the world what sets these sparkling wines apart from the crowded category of effervescence.
Every time I travel there, I understand more about the wines, the places where they are grown and vinified, and the people who make them.
On my recent visit to Franciacorta, I took some time to walk around the Barone Pizzini property and take some photographs.
Above: I took this photo, looking north toward Lake Iseo from the Barone Pizzini winery, on Friday of last week.
If you look carefully at the Google Earth image and the Google map below, you can see how Lake Iseo forms a small valley through the foothills of the Alps.
That valley acts as the perfect conduit for cool Alpine air currents that arrive from the north.
On the one hand, those foothills offer ample growing sites with southern exposure.
On the other hand, the cool Alpine air and the cool breeze from Lake Iseo, help to keep the vines and their fruit cool in the late summer months of ripening.
Above: a simple topographic Google map of Lake Iseo. You can see where the winery lies at the bottom of the image. That’s where I took my photo from.
There are a number of important appellations that, like Franciacorta, lie at the foot of the Alps: Langa to the west, Valpolicella and Soave, Prosecco, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Collio, and Carso to the east.
But none have the same convergence of climatic and topographic elements that Franciacorta has.
Fine wine grapes have been grown in Franciacorta and Brescia province (where it lies) for more than seven hundred years. By the height of the Italian Renaissance, Brescia province was already widely considered one of the most important viticultural areas in Italy.
But when a handful of winemakers began making sparkling classic-method wines there in the 1960s, something entirely unique in the panorama of Italian wines began to emerge there.
I’ll be sharing my notes and thoughts from my recent visit there over the next few weeks.
Thanks for reading.