Berlucchi Sparkling Wines: a Brief History

The history of Berlucchi, the well-known Italian sparkling wine, is strictly connected to the engaging events experienced by the company that has the same name, and which is today on the top of the global oenology.

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Berlucchi Winery Franciacorta Brescia Italy

The company was born in 1961, thanks to the lucky encounter between Guido Berlucchi, young countryman who was producing a simple wine called “Pinot del Castello” and Franco Ziliani, an ambitious winemaker, led by great dreams and expectations, who was interested in the idea of producing bubbly wine already at a early age, but he would have never imagined to reach such a great success.

The Beginning. 

The wine produced by Berlucchi with dedication and ambition, using grapes cultivated close to the Borgonato castle, presented unfortunately a problem of stability: once bottled, it tended to roil. And at this point Ziliani other than solving the inconvenience, confessed to Berlucchi his lifelong dream: to produce wines similarly to the French Champagne, high quality sparkling wines which can compete with the centuries-old French tradition.
The challenge was really ambitious even because, until recently, in Franciacorta we could only find very mediocre red wines, impossible to compare to the Champagne, beloved by Ziliani, who decided to start his ambitious project during his wine making training.

The First Italian Bubbly.

Giorgio Lanciani, Guido’s colleague and friend, takes part in the project.
In 1954, the three founded the “Guido Berlucchi & C.” Of course, their project took some time and many attempts before the production in 1961 of their first 3000 bottles of sparkling wine: the “Pinot di Franciacorta”.
The judgements were  immediately positives: the product was excellent and it could be compared with French Champagne.
The success of the new Italian wine was so overwhelming that the demand of production raised to the point that we can actually say that a new myth was born: the one of Franciacorta.
The winning characteristic of the product was the perfect price/performance combination: in fact it is Ziliani who believed that the selling point of their sparkling wines was the availability and the accessible price.
Now the production never stops; on the contrary, it continues to grow, thanks to the positive feedback of the consumers. The company can now get rich in new labels and renovate with new knowledge and technology.
The sparkling wine Berlucchi, in its classic variation, is straw-coloured with green reflections. It smells like white flowers and ripe fruits. Its flavour is embracing, fresh and lively.

Berlucchi 1961

The First Berlucchi Sparkling Wine made in 1961

The headquarters of Berlucchi wine is still today in Borgonato, community of Franciacorta, in the province of Brescia. The wine cellar is open from Monday to Friday (and a weekend per month from April to September) for guided tour and tasting itinerary. Don’t forget that you need to book a week earlier.

Brescia – Italy’s secret lake and wine destination.

Brescia is located in the Lombardy region of northern Italy; not very well known outside of Italy, this commune (and town) is a fabulous region to visit with a great many attractions for visitors, which is probably why the Italians would like to keep it to themselves!  The area is situated at the foot of the Alps and in close proximity to both Lake Garda and the lesser-known Lake Iseo, providing a very beautiful backdrop to enjoy all that the region has to offer, from sporting activities, art and culture, food and wine, and relaxation.

What to do in Brescia: 

The city of Brescia has deep roots in the arts and culture.  Within the town there is plenty of interesting architecture to admire, including the Piazza della Loggia, the Old and New Cathedrals (Duomo), as well as the Broletto (Medieval Town Hall) and the Monastery of Sal Salvatore.  Also be sure to visit the Museum of Santa Giulia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. and the Roman ruins at Tempio Capitolino.

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A lovely evening in Brescia – source

Lovely Lake Iseo: 

After a good dose of art and history, head out to Lake Iseo and enjoy some of the many water related sports on offer.  Explore on horseback or bicycle, go fishing, rowing, swimming or sailing.  Once you have had enough exercise, lie back and be pampered at the Spa or just relax in the sunshine.

Wonderful Franciacorta Wines:

Lake Iseo is the gateway to the Franciacorta wine region, and touring the beautiful birthplace of this fine wine is one of the most compelling reasons to visit.  Franciacorta is an excellent sparkling DOCG wine produced only in this area.  It is made in the classic method from Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Pinot Blanco which come from low-yield vines to ensure maximum flavour, and the terroir – cool lake breezes and gravely soils rich in minerals – ensures that this wine is Italy’s foremost rival to French Champagne.

Exploring the Franciacorta region:  It is possible to drive yourself along the Strada del Vino and see some of the best known wineries in the area, including Berlucchi, Bellavisa, Castaldi Contadi and many others.  However, if you do not speak Italian you may have some problems and  the best way to experience the wines of the region and visit some of the cellars would be to go on an organised tour.  Not not all the wineries are open to the public and some require an appointment; besides, you can enjoy more of the lovely bubbly Franciacorta if you are not driving!   There are plenty of lovely restaurants in the area serving traditional local specialities and excellent international cuisine.

Getting to Brescia:  It is easy to reach Brescia – fly into Milan airport and either hire a car (the best way to explore the area) or travel to Brescia by train and then hire your car there after you have explored the town.

Brescia – Franciacorta an area near lake Iseo dedicated to spumante wines

by Gabriele Monti December 3rd, 2012

The Franciacorta area is a moraine located in the south-east of Lake lseo, bordered by the Montorfano area and the rivers of Oglio and Mella. The nearby town of Brescia was the playground of the aristocratic and the rich during the seventeenth and the eighteenth century. I was the equivalent of the Brianza . It was the noble Milanese garden of delights, where the rich build villas and devote themselves to agriculture.

Carzano, Lago d'Iseo

Lake Iseo a stunning location between Bergamo and Brescia – Image source.

The name of the district, Franciacorta, has nothing to do with France but refers to the ancient wording from the Latin FRANCAE CURTIS. The monks and priests were granted the courts of this land to be farmed. They were free all taxes and excises. The privilege of privileges, it what we say today given the exceptional vocation of wine making of this region. The climate is mild and windy optimal for the vines.
Today’s wine makers achieved one of the most interesting Italian wine projects of recent decades: to produce a wine that can arise in the collective imagination as an alternative to champagne. We call it SPUMANTE.
The name of Franciacorta automatically refers to “Bubbles” or high quality sparkling wines. Today the DOCG is the highest recognition of quality which was sanctioned in 1995 and it covers the Franciacorta wines too. This was a dream come true with the colour of straws with the greenish reflections and hints of gold which are the typical colours of the Franciacorta wines. The production is subject to fermentation in the bottle of at least 18 months. The whole process from havers to to commercialisation takes at least 25 months, in order to guarantee the high quality these bottles.

The wine tour of Franciacorta can stretch over an area of about 80 km. It starts from Brescia to Erbusco, which is also the home of the Consortium right in the hearth of the wine area. These medieval towns are located on the hills. In the centre you will find the thirteenth-century parish churches. The beautiful seventeenth and eighteenth centuries villas are all around as witnesses of the aristocratic past.
The whole area is very close to the Lake lseo. Here you will find the largest lake island of Italy: Montisola, also known for his intensely flavoured salami. In the kitchen the protagonist is fish. Tench is stuffed and baked, also you will find eel, whitefish and trout in the menus. Olive oil is the extra virgin olive from the Italian Lakes PDO. The landscape is stunning, furthermore Zorzino and Castro should not be missed.

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Franciacorta vineyards