Beyond Prosecco: Italy’s Other, Better Bubbles

Jul 11, 2019 197

BY: Jim Clarke

Prosecco seems to be everywhere in the United States. The refreshing Italian sparkler has seen double-digit growth in the past several years and doesn’t seem to be slowing. But it’s not the only Italian sparkling wine in town. Wineries from the Alpine northern limits of Italy’s vineyards all the way to Sicily are making bubbly, offering a dizzying array of styles. Perhaps the most prestigious, Franciacorta, is seeing even faster growth than Prosecco; according to the Franciacorta Consortium, which monitors production and promotes the wine, exports to the U.S. are up 60% so far in 2019 compared with last year.

A crucial difference in winemaking technique separates Franciacorta and many other sparkling wines of Italy from Prosecco. Franciacorta relies on the same techniques used in making Champagne, a process known in Italy as metodo classico, the classic method. Both Prosecco and Franciacorta go through a second fermentation, which produces the bubbles. For metodo classico, that fermentation occurs inside the bottle the wine will eventually be sold in, whereas for Prosecco that fermentation occurs in large tanks. It sounds like a minor distinction, but it accounts for enormous differences in texture, complexity, and cost: the process—and additional aging time that comes with it—make Franciacorta and other metodo classico wines pricier than almost all Proseccos.

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