Prosecco ‘has paved the way’ for Franciacorta

Rather than viewing it as a threat, Silvano Brescianini, vice president of the Franciacorta consorzio, believes the success of Prosecco has “paved the way” for Franciacorta in the UK.

Sunset over the vines in Franciacorta

Speaking during a lunch held at Massimo restaurant in London this week, Brescianini told the drinks business:

“We’re not in competition with Prosecco. Its success in the UK and around the world has paved the way for us and has done a lot to create an interest in sparkling wines outside of Champagne. Prosecco has brought millions of consumers to bubbles and I’m thankful for that.”

Brescianini also doesn’t view Champagne as a direct competitor to Franciacorta due to the vast difference in production volumes in the two regions.

Silvano Brescianini

“We can’t compete with Champagne as it’s too big. They make around 300 million bottles a year and we only make 17.5 million. Champagne can be our friend – we need to work together to promote the culture of high-end traditional sparkling wines,” he told db.

Brescianini predicts that if demand for Franciacorta suddenly spikes, the region would be able to increase production by a maximum of 20% but no more given its fixed borders.

Located between Brescia and Bergamo, the Franciacorta DOC came to be in 1967 and has grown to house 117 producers, the largest 20 of which make 80% of the wine in the region.

Around 80% of the grapes grown in Franciacorta are Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and just 5% Pinot Bianco, which is “fruity but difficult to grow”, according to Brescianini.

The majority of Franciacorta produced (around 85%) is sold in Italy, with Japan, the US, Germany and Switzerland its key export markets.

Franciacorta tends to be lower in residual sugar than Champagne as the grapes ripen more fully due to more exposure to the sun, meaning less need for additional sugar.

The region is deeply committed to organic viticulture – 70% of the land under vine is certified organic and the goal is for the entire region to be certified by 2020.

“Being organic is hard but we’re not a golf course, so we encourage biodiversity and plants growing between the vines. But you can be organic and very bad – the key is to try and bring the vineyards into balance with the terroir,” Brescianini said.

Unique to Franciacorta is the “satèn” style – a blanc de blancs sparkler bottled at a lower pressure with a minimum of 24 months on its lees, giving it its signature “satin-like” smoothness.

Keen to increase Franciacorta listings in the UK, Brescianini and the consorzio are going after Italian restaurants and independent merchants, which are a natural fit for it.

As the category matures, Brescianini has noticed the emergence of a top tier within Franciacorta that could compete with prestige cuvée Champagnes. Ca’ del Bosco, for example, has a recently disgorged programme and its top sparkler is aged for 80 months before release.

9 Responses to “Prosecco ‘has paved the way’ for Franciacorta”

  1. Bravo Silvano! One of the most sensible commentators on sparkling wine today AND he’s the vice-president of a consorszio: proof the two are not mutually exclusive. Silvano obviously has his feet firmly on the ground in his own vineyards, preventing him from having his head in clouds.

  2. I judge very strange the point of view of my old friend Silvano Brescianini.
    IMHO is very difficult that the Prosecco consumers can “pawed the way” for Franciacorta Docg or others Italian or foreign Sparkling wines “metodo classico” in UK.
    The taste is very different, very different the price, different the culture of wine. I’m sure that Prosecco is not a “contributor” for serious sparkling wines like Champagne, Cava, Trento Doc, Oltrepò Pavese Docg, Alta Langa Docg and Franciacorta Docg, but a very dangerous competitor.
    Franciacorta people must understand this evidence…
    Franco Ziliani
    http://www.lemillebolleblog.it

    • Angie Atkinson says:

      I feel he means making the world aware of Italian Sparkling wine. Obviously they are different in style and price but here in NZ we have a huge amount of Prosecco, and that’s it. It would be great to have Franciacorta here, I have enjoyed the Bellavista in the past.

  3. excuse me. This is my answer to this very interesting and useful article, in my blog Lemillebolleblog
    http://www.lemillebolleblog.it/2017/04/20/il-prosecco-tira-la-volata-alla-franciacorta-in-uk-ma-quando-mai/

  4. Tom Stevenson says:

    I would use different language to Franco and arrive at a different conclusion. Rather than say “Prosecco is not a “contributor” for serious sparkling wines … but a very dangerous competitor” I would say that 95% of Prosecco drinkers do not like the character of any bottle-fermented wine. They like sparkling wines that are the antithesis of autolysis. It’s a joke to say that the first bottle of Prosecco is in the bottle and on the shelf before the last grape of the harvest has been picked, but it is that very primary freshness that attracts them to such an extent that if given a choice of two glasses, they would never drink even the very best Champagne, Franciacorta, Trentodoc etc. If they would never drink it, they would never buy it, so they are not and can never be a competitor, let alone “a very dangerous competitor”. The 5% (and that is probably an inflated guestimate!) that would enjoy the best Champagne, Franciacorta, Trentodoc et al, if only they had the opportunity, might very well get the opportunity because of Prosecco. They might have been drinking cola or Peroni and would never drink wine because they found wine too old fashioned, something their parents and other old people drink, but all of a sudden Prosecco is cool, so they try it and they begin the wine journey …

  5. Fred Nijhuis says:

    When Franciacorta started, Prosecco was more or less unknown around the world. Only the last decade promotion and production increased beyond anyone’s expectations. It is silly to compare Prosecco and Franciacorta like it is insane to compare a Smart with a Bugatti. And let’s not forget that there is a huge difference between Prosecco DOC and Prosecco DOCG. Prosecco is/can be a (dangerous) competitor indeed, when (even so called professionals) sell extremely cheap Prosecco (most of them DOC) as Italian Champagne and Champagne, Franciacorta, Cava etc.are not mentioned and recognized as different products with their own identity and qualities. To mention Prosecco while talking about Franciacorta makes no sense to me.

  6. Tom Stevenson says:

    Well said Fred! That’s why Sylvano stated “We’re not in competition with Prosecco” and there is no danger to Franciacorta or any other yeast-aged classics.

  7. Irene Graziotto says:

    I’d agree with Mr. Brescianini. Prosecco (especially Prosecco Doc) has managed to conquered a kind of consumers (youngsters, women) that in the past would have rather gone for a cocktail, as emerged while carrying out my reserach on Prosecco Superiore export (Gilbert&Gaillard Magazine, 2017 Spring Issue, pp.70-77: http://bit.ly/2ouS7DD). This means Prosecco has created not only a new market of potential consumers but also, and more important I would say, it has break through that wall of suspicion that many consumers have towards fine wines, including Champagne (how to serve it, which is the proper serving temperature, which glass to use). Of course not everybody, but some of these comsumers will get more and more interested towards wine and more complex wines, thus finally reaching out for Franciacorta and Champagne.

  8. Julien Launois says:

    Good evening to everyone,
    I find this conversation very interesting, but you are comparing “appellations”. Each of these “appellation” you mentioned are composed of thousands of growers.
    I have have worked in Germany for a “sekt” producer; I had the luck to work in various hotels where i tasted all the wines you are talking about, I have now friends visiting me in Champagne and exchanging bottles of cava against champagne.
    From what i have tasted, i do believe that there are unexpected treasures in each “appellations” and i find very dangerous this way of classifying a whole batch of growers from one producing area in the same basket.

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