Franciacorta: New and Recent Releases in 2024, Part 1

After last year’s in-depth article on Franciacorta’s wines, Editor-in-Chief Ian D’Agata travelled back to Franciacorta visiting wineries and tasting 100s of wines. He found this year’s batch of new and recent releases even better than last year’s.
by Ian D’Agata

There was a time I was beginning to wonder if climate change might wreak havoc on Franciacorta wine quality, but honesty dictates that I say clearly that does not appear to be the case at all. The area’s producers have been careful to try and combat this problem, for example with the allowance in the production guidelines of Erbamat, a local native white grape that offers very high acidity levels (but in fact, not just acidity, as there appears to be a lot more to what the grape can deliver: see below). Viticulture is also being adapted to the new conditions such as to guarantee fresher grapes and wines.

Clearly, climate change remains a huge problem in Franciacorta as it does almost everywhere else, but I’d say the area is managing better than expected. If anything, climate change has helped Franciacorta fashion better and better Rosé bubblies, to the point now that it is not at all an exaggeration to say that, on average, Franciacorta’s pink wines are oftentimes if not even generally better than those of Champagne. In the latter region, despite all the hype and ridiculously high prices their pink bubblies fetch, truth is that Pinot Noir often fails to reach physiologic ripeness and the vast majority of the wines are marked by green streaks and gritty tannins. If you are being honest, that is an incontrovertible truth. Clearly, the best from Champagne are still the world benchmarks for bubbly wines, and that statement applies to the area’s Rosé Champagnes as well; but my point is that if you limit the discussion to the regular Rosé wines made and not the top Rosé Prestige Cuvées, then on average Franciacorta offers pink tipples that are at the very least on the same level, when not better, and at better prices. One other factor that has helped Franciacorta producers improve their Rosé bubblies by leaps and bounds relatively quickly is that the denomination’s production guidelines obligate producers to use at least 35% Pinot Noir in their Rosé wines. This pushes producers to take better care and follow their Pinot Noir vines closely in order to avoid making green wines.

However, serious wine lovers know wine is rarely if ever a matter of “my wine is better than yours”; rather, a more accurate and serious approach is to appreciate each wine region and its wines for their peculiarities and what each has to offer. In this respect Franciacorta’s sparkling wines are different from other world sparkling wines, offering features specific and unique to this northern Italian region. And so, different wines from different world wine regions will appeal and find fans depending on each individual’s taste preferences, which is only logical.

Specific, even unique, characteristics of Franciacorta’s bubblies

In general, Franciacorta sparkling wines are very savoury, because of the geological origin of the region, given that it was once all under the sea. In fact, fossils are plentiful in most Franciacorta vineyards. For the most part, Franciacorta’s sparkling wines also offer riper yellow fruit aromas and flavours than cooler wine production areas such as France’s Champagne and Germany’s Sekt, and mellower, riper mouthfeels. Which of those you will prefer depends more on you than it does on the wines. Franciacorta also offers its own version of Crémant, called Satèn, a wine made with white grapes only and bottled at a lower atmospheric pressure, such that those who do not enjoy high levels of carbonation will naturally find these softer, rounder wines more to their liking.

And speaking of wine grapes, Franciacorta differs from most other wine production areas of the world known for their sparkling wines because it does not grow Pinot Meunier. Clearly, there is little need in Italy for a lower acid grape variety given the country’s (and Franciacorta’s) warmer climate in which grapes tend to ripen fully in most years. This is very different from colder northern lands where instead Pinot Meunier can be a real big help. By contrast, in Franciacorta, Pinot Bianco tends to play a bigger role than it does, for example, in Champagne. Analogously to why Italy does not need Pinot Meunier, it does need Pinot Bianco, because the latter variety allows for more freshness in the wines. For this same reason, the producer’s association (consorzio) has allowed the inclusion of up to10% of a local native grape called Erbamat.

What Franciacorta needs to work on now to further increase the quality of it bubbly wines such that they may compete with the best of the best, is to work on the complexity of its wines. This may come to fruition with increasing vine age: a relatively young denomination that only thirty years ago had very few wineries of note, Franciacorta’s vineyards are mostly still young to very young (with 25 years old vines considered old geezers) and this precludes, to a degree, making wines of noteworthy complexity.

Pinot Bianco and Pinot Noir

Pinot Bianco and Pinot Noir are the most interesting grapes of Franciacorta but they are the hardest to work with in the vineyard and in the cellar, so not every producer in the region is quite the fan. Thus far, Pinot Bianco represents only about 5% of grape plantings in the region (but it is very noteworthy to remember that Pinot Bianco vineyards are made up of some of Franciacorta’s oldest vines) while Pinot Noir sits at 20% or so; of note, plantings of both are slowly but surely increasing. Problems that both Pinots pose include their being thin-skinned varieties, which is never a good thing in the eyes of any self-respecting farmer; and in the cellar, the wrong amount of oxygen during a pump-over or a rack and return can ruin your wine. That much said, many estates are now starting to perform massal selections on old Pinot Bianco vineyards with the aim of propagating the vines and studying them further. Pinot Bianco moves the balance in the wine’s organoleptic profile towards white flowers and citrus fruits (Chardonnay gives more lusciousness, size and lift and provides different aromas and flavours). Differently from Pinot Bianco, Pinot Noir gives power and structure.


It is truly remarkable how, for a country that unfailingly makes some of the world’s truly lousiest Chardonnay wines, in Italy the grape variety performs generally very well in Franciacorta. Make no mistake about it: the only reason you find much Italian Chardonnay wine outside of Italy is because your local importers clamor for it, in the altogether misplaced wrong belief that such wines are much easier to sell than those made with less sexy grape varieties (for example, Sylvaner, Cortese, Müller-Thurgau, Ansonica) or those nobody knows anything about and that would require much more work to sell (Coda di Volpe Bianca, Nasco, Semidano, one of the many different Malvasia varieties). But all that admitted, Franciacorta has always made the country’s best Chardonnay wines, and I include its still wines too. Though Alto Adige and Friuli Venezia Giulia’s white wines are more famous than Lombardy’s, it behooves me to make clear that when it comes to Chardonnay, Lombardy’s best (such as Bellavista Convento dell’Annuiciata and Ca’ del Bosco’s newly named Selva della Tesa Chardonnay) are far better than anything those two regions make. Such success translates over to the sparkling wines, where the Chardonnay-based Franciacorta wines are always the best the region has to offer. For this same region, a category of Franciacorta wine not to be missed is that of Satèn (made with Chardonnay and/or Pinot Bianco). Though some Franciacorta producers are not always happy to hear this, feeling perhaps somewhat diminished by it, I strongly believe that the denomination’s best wines are in fact its Satèns (with one very strong caveat I will broach below).  Therefore, also keep in mind that as Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco are the two white grapes of Franciacorta, any wine labeled “Blanc de Blancs” from this region is not necessarily a Chardonnay-only wine. In Franciacorta, depending on the vintage characteristics, Chardonnay offers different organoleptic traits: green fruit in the cooler years, riper yellow fruit, butter and spices in the warmer ones.


Erbamat is a local native white grape with a so-so pedigree, brought into the fold for its capacity to deliver high-acid grapes in a region where encroaching climate change has been a cause for concern. However, I point out that the common view that Erbamat provides acid and little else is most likely erroneous: I have had numerous experimental wines made in the region over the years, some of which with as much 60-100% Erbamat (which by law will never be able to be called Franciacorta because the official production guidelines allow at most 10% Erbamat in the blend) and the wines are remarkably luscious, deep and complex. So there’s obviously a lot more to Erbamat than we are aware of. In any case, Erbamat is currently not popular with many Franciacorta wineries because they believe they do not need it, as it is felt that many parts of the denomination are actually cool enough (such as those in the commune of Monticelli Brusate) so as to not need it; others believe that playing around with the denomination’s many altitudes, exposures and micro-climates will allow for wines with plenty of acidity. I wonder. Should you be interested ion knowing more about this unique little grape, I refer you to my award-winning Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs, to date the only book on Italian wine that has an entire, long, chapter devoted to this grape variety and its wines.

The nagging question of dryness: when does too little dosage actually become a bad idea?

If there is one huge problem with Franciacorta’s wines today, which by the way is exactly problem  that every other wine region famous for sparkling wine production also faces, is that of wines made to be increasingly bone-dry in taste. Everywhere you look for a sparkling wine, you find an ocean of Nature, Extra Brut and Pas Dosé/Dosage Zero wines that are often downright punitive to drink. In a nod to fashion, producers everywhere are reducing the residual sugar in their bubbly wine, but it has gotten to a point now that people (wine lovers and producers alike) seem to have lost sight of the fact that high-acid wines such as sparkling wines (which are high-acid by definition) actually need a little sugar to make them more palatable. Part of this situation can be explained by the belief that many have that in Franciacorta grapes ripen well enough to achieve enough balance such that the wines will taste fine. In other words, that Franciacorta’s terroir (as we have seen, a warmer one) gives riper, more mellow wines that do not need sugar to be in balance (therefore the dosages are low at many estates and clearly absent in the Nature wines). While all that is at least partly true, fact is that I find many of the wines to be almost unpleasant in their exceedingly austere mouthfeel and taste profile. This is especially true of the Satèns (the caveat I alluded to above) which when turned into Extra Bruts often lose all the charm and soft sweet fruity appeal that makes them so special. Like with everything else in life, fads and fashions can be a dangerous thing.

Brief synopsis of some recent Franciacorta vintages

Wine lovers, professionals and collectors need to know that the wines of the 2023 vintage have turned out better in Franciacorta than in most parts of Italy. Like everywhere else in the country, they also had problems with downy mildew and the off-weather lowered crop levels, but the wines in the tanks are very promising. The 2021 vintage was characterized by a mild winter with little rainfall, and as was logical, the budding of the vines began earlier than expected (towards the end of March). Unfortunately, late season frost hit Franciacorta on April 6 and 7, damaging many vineyards. Cold weather and frequent rains followed, such that delayed flowering became inevitable (taking place in the last decade of May). No major heat waves ensued, but a July 25 hailstorm greatly hurt quality and quantity of the vintage. Then a tropical heatwave in August led to an early harvest. The quality of the wines has turned out better than expected given it was a vintage of such extremes. The 2020 vintage was characterized by an early budbreak, and the persistently mild climate led to flowering taking place a week early. Heavy rainfall marred the end of spring, but sunny weather was back in summer, though days were not especially hot initially, becoming so only in early to mid-August. Overall grapes reached good maturity and were mostly  very healthy. The 2018 vintage had a very cold and damp spring and so budbreak started approximately ten days later than usual. But only after July 15 did summer really set in, with temperatures peaking well above average until August 25th, with almost tropical heat throughout August. The vintage was essentially saved by the rainfall that took place the last ten days of the month, but the year’s very generous yields means that only those estates that applied considerable elbow grease in the vineyards made truly good wines (the Pinot Noirs were especially at risk). The 2016 vintage was an especially good one in Franciacorta. Budbreak occurred on April 16 , the spring was cold and rainy (so May and June too), flowering was slightly damaged with berry shatter and lower yields and less compact bunches ensued. The rest of the season allowed for better ripeness and less disease problems because the bunches were less compact. August was on the cool side, allowing for prolonged hang time and more complex wines. The 2015 vintage was a warm year of lower acid acid wines, but good overall. The 2013 vintage proved late ripening, with base wines that were richer and with higher polyphenol levels and with potentially more oxidative matrices (due to the slower ripening but not so warm that the grapes built up more polyphenols). The 2011 vintage is an excellent one with very ripe fruit but also plenty of freshness; it was a classic regular year that is rarely seen nowadays anymore because of climate change. The 2008 vintage was marked by a cool spring and not much sun. The rest of the year was uneventful with good polyphenol maturation with normal production levels and good to very good wines.

The wines in this tasting

All the wines in this report were tasted either in my office in Rome or directly in Franciacorta at the wineries and in the Consorzio office in the company of Yumi Liu, one of my staff writers at the TerroirSense Wine Review (and who will be writing her own piece on a specific aspect of the Franciacorta). To this effect, I wish to thank the Consorzio Franciacorta for their help in setting up winery visits and in allowing me to taste in their offices about forty wines of wineries I didn’t have time to visit on this specific trip (but I look forward to visit these wineries in the near future). I also wish to acknowledge that even though I took care, as I always do, of all my travel expenses and hotel costs, the Consorzio had a driver take me to the wineries, something that I greatly appreciate given that driving while being impaired is not high on my list of life priorities. Furthermore, not all the wines in this tasting report were sourced through the Consorzio, with a number of wines were bought by me directly when visiting wine shops and restaurants.

Abrami Elisabetta.

Abrami Elisabetta NV Franciacorta Brut                     91

Pale straw with golden tinges. Fruity notes of apple and nectarine are complemented by white flowers and hints of vanilla. Bright and savoury on entry, then more fruity in the middle with hints of white peach and jasmine. The slightly creamy finish features a repeating savouriness and medium acidity only, leaving an impression of size and palate weight behind. Lovely entry-level Francicorta. This blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir spent 24 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Abrami Elisabetta NV Franciacorta Satèn Brut          87

Very pale straw colour. Herbs, spices, yeast and forest floor on the slightly fruit-challenged nose. Then yeasty and herbal in the mouth too, with Satèn-typical notes of cream soda creaminess, and hints of orchard fruit in the background. Closes slightly bitter and medium-long; this could really have used a couple of grams of residual sugar for better balance. This 100% Chardonnay spent 24 months on the lees, and for some reason it certainly smells and tastes more leesy than does the Franciacorta Brut from the same winery. It’s also not the first time that I find Satèn Bruts not to be a good idea (while normal Satèns are probably the best bubbly category of Franciacorta). Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Abrami Elisabetta 2017 Franciacorta Extra Brut Blanc de Noirs           91

Medium straw-yellow colour. Very yeasty nose but not one-dimensional, with hints of ripe peach, balsamic oils and herbs, plus a slightly oxidative note in the style of Jacquesson or Bollinger which is not typical of Abrami’s Brut and Brut Satèn bubblies. Then full and broad, with good acid cut to the spicy yellow fruit and chamomile flavours. Closes long and savoury but this bubbly could use a little more fruit for greater charm. This 100% Pinot Noir spent 30 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030

Abrami Elisabetta NV Franciacorta Rosé Brut           88

Pale pink. Oxidative notes greet the nose with only hints of strawberry and herbs in the background. Then flavours that are similar to the aromas, with a saline nuance adding interest to the rose-accented, fresh but slightly short back end. This blend of 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay spent 24 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Abrami Elisabetta 2019 Franciacorta Rosé Brut Redigoli         92

Nice pale pink colour. Rose, violet and strawberry notes on the enticing, non-oxidative nose. In the mouth, it is textured and broad, but with harmonious acidity extending the floral red fruit flavours on the long back end. This 100% Pinot Noir spent 30 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030

Arcari + Danesi.

Arcari + Danesi 2019 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero      87

Bright pale straw-green. White flowers, minerals and yeast on the nose and in the mouth. Enters slightly floral, then sharper but still fruit-deficient, finishing long and stony. This bubbly is well-made but it would gain in charm and pleasurability if it only had a little more in the way of fruit and sugar; like this, it is so shockingly bone dry that drinking it becomes almost punitive. Very clean and precise, but this is yet another Franciacorta (and all sparkling wines in general, for they all share the same fad-related problem of excessive dryness) that is much too dry-tasting to be enjoyable. Not for me. Drinking window: 2024-2031.

Arcari + Danesi 2018 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero      91

Luminous pale straw-yellow with a good stream of bubbles. Hawthorne, hibiscus, iris and peony mingle with green apricot and yellow apple on the nose. Then taut and focused, with orchard fruit flavours lifted by welcome minerality on the long aftertaste. I don’t know why, but here the fruit seems more abundant and this also seems to be much less unapologetically dry than the 2019. Clearly, both vintages of the Arcari + Danesi Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero are well-made wines, but this 2018 offers much better balance and drinking enjoyment. Drinking window: 2024-2029

Barone Pizzini.

Barone Pizzini NV Franciacorta Extra Brut Golf        93

Vivid straw-green with a strong bead of small bubbles. White flowers and citrus fruit aromas are very fresh and saline. Long and clean, with very good texture and a welcome, enticing juiciness that makes you want to grab another glass of this the minute you finish the preceding one. Very pretty wine that never disappoints. 100% Chardonnay, stainless steel fermented, and disgorged November 2023, this is made with the base 2021 wine. A total of 100,000 bottles a year of this excellent, fairly-priced bubbly are made each year from roughly forty hectares under vine, with vineyards in Provaglio d’Iseo, Passirano, Curtefranca and Capriolo. I repeat, there’s lots of wine for the money here. Drinking window. 2024-2029. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Barone Pizzini NV Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero Animante       93

Bright straw yellow with some gold. Freshly baked croissants, tangerine, lavender and orchard fruit on the intriguing nose and palate. Closes mellow and round, but with plenty of lift. A blend of 53% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Noir, 19% Pinot Bianco, and 5% Erbamat fermented in stainless steel. Disgorged November 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Barone Pizzini NV Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero Animante L.A.     92

Medium straw yellow. Oxidative nose in the style of Bollinger, salty and nutty at the same time, plus hints of coffee that build on the long back end. An 84% Chardonnay, 12% Pinot Noir, and 4% Pinot Blanc blend.  Disgorged in March 2023. L.A. stands for Long Aging (Lungo Affinamento) Drinking window: 2024-2031.

Barone Pizzini 2019 Franciacorta Satèn Brut       94

Vivid straw-green. Fresh citrus fruit, egg custard, and vanilla aromas and flavours are lifted by a very pretty floral note. Finishes very dry, but unlike many other Satèn Bruts this is rather swell-balanced. Twenty years old vines planted in the territories of the Passirano, Provaglio and Curtefranca communes. The fermentation is carried out in barriques for two thirds.  Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Barone Pizzini 2019 Franciacorta Brut Nature            94

Very nice! There’s 20,000 bottles made of this beauty, that starts fresh and fruity, then finishes classically dry but not drying, with a very nice creaminess on the long and clean aftertaste that will remind you of yellow apples, pears and honeycomb. A blend of 61% Chardonnay and 39% Pinot Noir. Drinking window: 2024-2030

Barone Pizzini 2019 Franciacorta Brut Rosé         93

Very pretty bright orange colour. Fruity and elegant on the nose that is brimming with a panoply of red berries and violet flowers. Nicely long and clean in the mouth, offering nicely-delineated flavours of strawberries and herbs. This very lively and penetrating 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay blend was cold macerated and pressed then adding back red wine. Disgorged October 2023. Drinking window: 2023-2032.

Barone Pizzini 2016 Franciacorta Riserva Dosaggio Zero Bagnadore                  95+                            

Golden-tinged straw yellow. Remarkably fresh and saline and with a hint of pot pourri on the long back end for added complexity. Clean precise and piercing, this is classically austere and refined Franciacorta. It’s a blend of 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir, that stayed on the lees a whopping sixty-seven months. Disgorged January 2023. The 2016 is a great vintage in Franciacorta, and this gorgeous bubbly showcases this fact to full effect. Drinking window: 2023-2034.

Barone Pizzini 2011 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero Bagnadore             94

Golden-accented medium straw colour. Enters creamy then more taut and saline, with forest floor and puff pastry notes building. Big but refined, this is drinking beautifully but will age spectacularly in a good cellar. Roughly 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir, this was disgorged in 2020. Only about 10,000 bottles made from a three hectares vineyard between Fanticolo and Monte Rotondo, a vineyard in the commune of Provaglio d’Iseo. Recently, 0.9 hectares have been replanted with a massal selection of Pinot Noir.  This 2011 is noteworthy also because it demonstrates just how much Bagnadore benefits from aging prior to pulling its cork; when it was first released, I was less of a fan of the 2011, but I admit it is drinking beautifully now. Drinking window: 2024-2034.

Barone Pizzini 2011 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero Rosé Bagnadore                95

Bright orange. Then more orange, but this time in the way of aromas, with hints of tangerine peel notes both on the nose and in the mouth with an explosion of red fruit, quinine and herbs on the long, creamy finish. First ever Bagandore Rosé made, this is a real work of art. Drinking window: 2024-2034.

Barone Pizzini 2023 Curtefranca Polzina              91

Bright straw yellow. Boasts nicely accessible aromas and flavours of banana and pineapple, this is easy to drink and very fruity. Ideal summertime drink. 100% Chardonnay from a ten years old vineyard of Chardonnay planted in the Polzina area, hence the wine’s name. Stainless steel fermented, no oak. About 20,000 bottles made. Drinking window: 2024-2028.


Bellavista NV Franciacorta Brut Rosé            87

Bright pale pink with an orangy twist. Very simple and short, with aromas and flavours of red berries and rosehips, but not much depth and complexity. At least, compared to some Champagne Rosé bubblies, the fruit is ripe. On the bottle I drank at the La Filiale pizzeria at the very prestigious L’Albereta Relais et Chateaux resort, there was nowhere to be seen the words “Alma Grande Cuvée” that are reported to be on the label (and help further identify the wine) as per the winery’s website. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Bellavista 2018 Franciacorta Rosé                   94

Copper-tinged bright orangy-pink. Deep, perfumed aromas and flavours of strawberries, orange peel, anise, violet and fresh croissants are lively, nicely energetic and very focused. Multilayered and dense, there is above-average concentration and length, with the red berry and floral flavours lingering nicely.  This 62-38 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir respectively spent 36 months on the lees, but this remains very fresh and ripely fruity, and is not especially yeasty. Really lovely pink bubbly. Drinking window: 2024-2033.

Bellavista 2016 Franciacorta Riserva Brut Vittorio Moretti                   96

Luminous straw colour, Intense, deep, rich vanilla and sweet spice notes complement the ripe orchard and tropical fruit aromas that are lifted by a strong white flower note. Then layered and dense, with a lusciously mouthcoating personality and a boatload of ripe apple, pear, butter and lemon custard flavours. The finish is very long and multifaceted. The 2016 Riserva Vittorio Moretti is a 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir blend that spent close to seventy months on the lees and is an amazingly refined wine. This prestige cuvée, the top bottling from Bellavista, was first made in the 1984 vintage and the 2016 was only the twelfth Riserva Vittorio Moretti released since then. I suggest cellaring a couple more years such as to drink it as it enters its apex and has lost a little of its vanilla exuberance. Drinking window: 2027-2036.

Bersi Serlini.

Bersi Serlini NV Franciacorta Brut Anteprima           89

Luminous straw-green. Aromas and flavours of orchard fruit and herbs. Enters full and ripe, then just as full and savoury in the middle, but finishes only medium-long. 100% Chardonnay that spent 20 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Bersi Serlini NV Franciacorta Brut Anniversario Blanc de Blancs                      92

Very bright straw yellow colour with some gold. Aromas and flavours of white flowers, peach, apricot and herbs, with a touch of vanilla and a twist of lime. Lovely clarity and cut on the long, tapered finish. Solid stuff here. A triple selection of the winery’s best Chardonnay (100%) grapes that spent 24 months on the lees. Note that this wine, which is in many ways the estate’s most representative, was first made in the 1973 vintage (and not 1976 as you will read on other wine magazines and websites). Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Bersi Serlini NV Franciacorta Brut Satèn                    91

Good full straw yellow. Aromas of jasmine, lemon verbena, honeycomb, plus herbs. Big and full but with some elegance, this richly fruity and savoury bubbly coats the mouth nicely, offering very good sugar/acid/fruit balance, and lasts and lasts. The close features a bit of a peppery bite. A Chardonnay (100%) that spent 30 months on the lees and was aged 30% in barriques. Drinking window: 2025-2034.

Bersi Serlini 2020 Franciacorta Brut Cuvée n.4                  92

Fresh and bright on the nose and in the mouth, but with very good size and creaminess to the fruity flavours that linger impressively. A full-bodied style that has palate presence and savoury bite, but does not feel heavy-handed or taste over the top. A Chardonnay (100%) bubbly from the estate’s four oldest vineyards that spent 30 months on the lees, each wine fermented (10%) in barriques and where it remains for six months. The n.4 in the name calls to mind the fact that the barriques are each made with oak from the four major French oak forests. Drinking window: 2024-2031.

Bersi Serlini NV Franciacorta Brut Rosé Rosa Rosae           92

Medium-pale pink. Flinty, diesel-like nuances mingle with notes of yeast, and slightly subdued notes of strawberry. Bright, ripe and long, this coats the mouth with fresh herbal and fruit nuances on the classically dry finish. A certified organic Pinot Noir (65%) and Chardonnay (35%) bubbly that spent thirty months on the lees. Drinking window: 2025-2031.


Biondelli NV Franciacorta Blanc de Blancs Dosaggio Zero      92

Vivid straw yellow. Very grapey, honeyed almost, on the resoundingly fruity nose. Then a hint of sweetness leaves a mellow, round mouthfeel behind on the long orchard fruit-accented finish. Maybe not the most complex or refined Franciacorta you’ll ever drink, but also a lot more fun and enjoyable compared to some wayyyyy too dry behemoths.  Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Biondelli NV Franciacorta Brut Satèn                   88

Bright straw. Enters very fresh and strongly fruity, but then turns increasingly dry and fruit-challenged in the middle and on the medium-long finish. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Biondelli 2018 Franciacorta Rosé Pas Dosé Donna Clemy 89

Medium pink colour. Very yeasty and earthy, this is a big, strapping but not especially refined bubbly. Those who prefer flavour impact over nuance will like this more than I.  Drinking window: 2025-2028.

Biondelli 2016 Franciacorta Riserva Rosé Pas Dosé Première Dame                             92

Medium pink. Aromas of truiffles, strawberry, orange peel, quinine and herbs. Then similar falvours with a hint of glyceral sweetness. A more obvious presence of liqueur here, this is deep long and serious, finishing with a tactile, round, full and honeyed close. Drinking window: 2024-2029

Ca’ dei Pazz.

Ca’ dei Pazz NV Franciacorta Brut          91

Very pale straw green with a steady stream of small bubbles. Hawthorn, jasmine and white flowers complement green apple on the nose and in the mouth. Laser-like but harmonious acidity extend the flavours on the long zingy back end. Sneaky concentration here. This is mostly Chardonnay with a percentage of Pinot Blanc, but even in its smaller proportion, the latter grape really dominates the aroma and flavour profile of this wine, which is characterized by a steely freshness and a straightforward orchard fruit personality (so not the mellowness or the buttery tropical fruit more typical of Chardonnay). Drinking window: 20242028.

Ca’ del Bosco.

Ca’ del Bosco NV Franciacorta Extra Brut Prestige Cuvée Brut Edizione 46                       93

Bright straw colour. Floral notes dominate the nose, with orchard fruit (more yellow and ripe than the green and white fruit of the Edizione 45) in nice support. Fresh and linear in the mouth, with flavours of peach and pear, complemented by a hint of lime. The close is long and dense. It is truly remarkable how much Ca’ del Bosco has improved this wine over the years, moving from the initially overly-dosed, too round sparkler lacking acid lift to today’s beautifully precise, elegant bubbly. So much so in fact, that over time this sparkling wine has morphed from its original Brut classification to the Extra Brut of today. The Edizione 46 is a blend of 79.5% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir and 1.5% Pinot Bianco selected from more than 200 different vineyards dispersed throughout the Franciacorta denomination (which means that it has just a tad more Pinot Noir in the mix compared to the Edizione 45). It is made with 76% wine from the 2021 vintage, and reserve wines from the 2019 vintage (21%) and 2018 vintage (3%). Spent 25 months on the lees. First made in 1976 and launched as “Franciacorta Pinot”, it became a Franciacorta Brut in 1991. Then, in 2005, the name changed once more, to the “Prestige Cuvée” of today; the wine’s new vest and name was launched in 2005 directly at the winery, an evening I remember well as I was among the invitees that night, that also featured a dinner prepared by the three Michelin star Da Vittorio restaurant and that to this day still ranks as the best-catered dinner I have ever attended at any winery in Italy. This wine’s name changed again in 2017, when the word “Edizione” was added (or “Edition”, followed by the number of which edition it is). Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Ca’ del Bosco NV Franciacorta Rosé Prestige Cuvée Brut Edizione 45                    93

Bright orangy-pink. Strawberry and raspberry complicated by orange peel and vanilla on both the nose and in the mouth. Fresh but round, suave and long, with the raspberry nuances lingering nicely on the long back end. The Rosé Edizione 45 is a blend of 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay, selected in eighteen different vineyards (11 of Pinot Noir and 7 of Chardonnay) averaging about 25-30 years of age; it spent about 30 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Ca’ del Bosco 2018 Franciacorta Extra Brut Dosage Zéro                     95

Pale yellow with a compact small bubble bead. Highly perfumed aromas of white flowers, tangerine, lemongrass and a hint of flint. Complex, citrus and stone fruit flavours are lifted by hints of jasmine and lemon verbena, with a hint of pineapple emerging with aeration. Finishes with very good breadth and fruity persistence. This is a blend of 76% Chardonnay, 16% Pinot Noir and 8% Pinot Bianco selected from 26 organic certified vineyards (18 of Chardonnay, 6 Pinot Noir, 2 Pinot Bianco). The wine spent 48 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2034.

Ca’ del Bosco 2018 Franciacorta Extra Brut Satèn                   96

Luminous pale straw-gold-green with a rapidly rising small bubbled bead. Orange zest, lemon custard and iodine on the nose, plus a suave floral quality that gains strength with air. A juicy, light-bodied but nicely creamy Franciacorta that packs very good punch, offering gently sweet citrus and melon flavors and slow-building leesiness. The mellow yet fresh finish hints at the presence of Pinot Bianco, with echoes of jasmine, lemon verbena and a sweet note of candied orange lingering nicely on the long back end. This is a blend of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Bianco (same as the 2019 vintage) selected in 15 different vineyards (13 Chardonnay, 2 Pinot Bianco) meaning there were fifteen different base wines to assemble together. The wine spent 48 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Ca’ del Bosco 2015 Franciacorta Extra Brut Dosage Zéro Noir                        96

Gold-tinged straw colour. Very intense strawberry and custard cream on the nose and on the long finish, while the palate showcases striking purity of fruity and inviting minerality. Beautiful harmonious acidity and juicy fruitiness here. This is 100% Pinot Nero from three different vineyards in the Belvedere vineyard area that spent eight and a half years on the lees. It is an absolutely outstanding Blanc de Noirs. Very well done. Drinking window: 2024-2035.

Ca’ del Bosco 2015 Franciacorta Rosé Extra Brut AnnaMaria Clementi                    94

Vivid pale pink with a rapidly rising, tight, stream of small bubbles. With aeration, raspberry, strawberry and black pepper aromas emerge as the nose opens up. Fresher and less structured than some past vintages of this mythical bubbly, not so arguably Italy’s best pink sparkling wine. Made with 100% Pinot Noir from specific vineyards in Belvedere, Nigoline and Canella Ca’ del Bosco, vinified separately and tasted prior to the final assemblage (depending on their quality, all or just some those three origins will make the final blend). The 2015 vintage was a fairly productive but fresh one in Franciacorta, with a long enough growing season to allow plenty of hang time (the grapes were picked in the first week of September). Drinking window: 2025-2035.

Ca’ del Bosco 2008 Franciacorta Dosage Zéro Vintage Collection R.S.                        94

Medium-pale golden-tinged yellow. Musky pear and yellow melon aromas are complemented by notes of floral honey and lees. Juicy and layered in the mouth, with gently sweet orchard and stone fruit flavours enhanced by hints of anise and chlorophyll on the long fresh close. Steelier but perhaps less complex than the riper, broader 2006, each of these two impressive wines will have its share of fans. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Ca’ del Bosco 2006 Franciacorta Dosage Zéro Vintage Collection R.S.                         96

Bright medium golden yellow. Flowers and ripe citrus fruits on the nose, with a hint of caramel banana adding vivacity. Brisk and polished on entry, then increasingly round and layered, with outstanding depth and focus to its tangerine, yellow apple and sweet spice flavours. Notes of citrus-flavoured custard echo on the surprisingly tangy, lifted, persistent finish. I remember Ca’ del Bosco’s 2006 vintage wines very well (one of those years I have had the most Cà del Bosco wines of, in fact): this specific recentemente sboccato (recemment degorgée) bottling strikes me as being a more penetrating sparkling wine than some other 2006s made here. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Ca’ del Bosco 1980 Franciacorta Dosage Zero Annamaria Clementi R.S.                        99

Luminous medium-pale straw gold colour. Biscuits and puff pastry dominate the very refined nose initially, with hints of mushroom, barley and caramel adding complexity. Then almost surprisingly fresh on the palate given the more evolved nose, with a strong presence of ginger, white pepper, coriander and cumin complementing the ripe orchard fruit flavours. Finishes very long, rich and spicy, this is really very precise and clean. This sparkling wine, arguably Italy’s most famous bubbly, took the name of Annamaria Clementi in 1989 (named after current owner Maurizio Zanella’s mother). Only 5000 bottles of this have been made and already half have been sold. The 1980 Annamaria Clementi R.S. is a blend of 40% Pinot Noir, 39% Chardonnay, and 21% Pinot Bianco selected from seven different vineyards located in the Canelle area of the Franciacorta denomination. It is quite simply the best sparkling wine Italy has ever made. The wine spent 42 years on the lees (seven years with the bottles lying on their side, the others with the bottles sur pointe). The 1980 vintage was marked by a very rainy May and June and a coolish start to the growing season with rampant millerandage and greatly reduced crop loads. The summer and fall were marked by relatively warm to hot weather (with summer days reaching thirty degrees Celsius, which back then was certainly “hot”) and the grapes benefited from longish hang time, favouring the production of wines that were no blockbusters but very well-balanced and refined. Already in my university days, I always believed 1980 to be an excellent vintage for Franciacorta and was therefore very glad to learn from Ca’ del Bosco owner Maurizio Zanella that Ca’ del Bosco’s original winemaker/chef de cave, André Dubuis, thought so too. Drinking window: 2024-2035.

Ca’ del Bosco 2019 Chardonnay Selva della Tesa                       92

Bright straw yellow. Clean, subtle aromas of poached pear, acacia honey, toasted nuts, white flowers and brown spices on the sneakily powerful nose. Displays very good freshness and liveliness of orchard stone fruit flavours and a complicating subtly spicy undertone. Sappy and subtly sweet on the long lively finish, which boasts building roundness and lusciousness with air. This will pair well with rich, creamy seafood or poultry dishes. Drinking window: 2026-2032.


Camilucci NV Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero           92

Vivid straw colour. Yellow flowers, beeswax and chamomile on the slightly fruit-challenged nose. Enters a little thin, acid and lemony, with more herbal nuances to underlying reticent orchard fruit flavours, but then slowly but surely fills out, gaining in layers and complexity and with rich ripe fruit notes coming to the fore. Finishes with very good length and rounder than it starts, leaving a favourable impression behind. Disgorged Sept. 2022. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Camilucci 2018 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero Anthologie Blanc                                88

Light yellow. Sharply focused lemon, lime and herbal aromas are complemented by notes of white flowers but not much ripe fruit. There is a sweeter orange and pear flavour element in the mouth, but the herbal nuances dominate once again. Finishes with good cut and floral persistence, but I found this a little medicinal: too much so for my taste. Disgorged March 23. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Camilucci NV Franciacprta Dosaggio Zero Perpetuelle 14/18                              92

Vibrant straw colour. Fresh, lively buttery and baked bread nuances complement ripe orchard fruit on the nose and in the mouth. Yeasty, complex, long and tactile on the broad and tasty finish that also boasts a strong savoury note. Disgorged November 2022. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Camilucci 2010 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero Riserva ST.10                         93

Golden yellow. Ripe orange, tangerine and floral aromas and flavours are broad and ripe, but also very fresh and lively despite this sparkler’s age. Not so yeasty as you might expect given the many months spent on the lees. Disgorged December 2022. Drinking window: 2024-20232.

Camilucci Franciacorta Rose’ Dosaggio Zero  Ammonites                        92

Medium salmon pink. Intense strawberry notes and some herbs on the pretty, expressive nose. Then laser-like acidity gives the strawberry and herb flavours a tapering taut quality. This is really quite good, confiming my general impression, formed over the years, that Franciacorta has the potential to make really interesting, even outstanding Rosé bubblies (generally, Chardonnay does much better in this part of Italy, but climate change is probably helping Pinot Noir ripen better and better) . Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Castel Bonomi.

Castel Bonomi 2016 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero           90

Yellow flowers, beeswax and chamomile on the slightly fruit-challenged nose. A little thin with highish acidity on entry, but turns fuller and fleshier in the middle, closing with repeating lemony nunaces but much rounder than it started. A very solid bubbly that will grow on you with aeration. Disgorged Sept. 2022. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Castel Bonomi 2019 Franciacorta Satèn         91

Medium deep yellow. The nose offers rich aromas of toast, yeasty croissant, ripe orange, and custard cream. Then similar flavours, but with added hints of black coffee and toffee. The aftertaste is long and voluptuous. Disgorged May 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2031.

Castel Bonomi 2018 Franciacorta Brut Cru Perdu     93

Medium bright yellow. Custard cream, puff pastry, apricot and pear on the inviting nose. More notes of puff pastry and very creamy on entry, turning more austere and steely in the middle and on the slightly herb-accented, long, finish. This and the 2016 Cru Perdu strike me as the bubblies with the best balance of all of Castel Bonomi’s wines I tried this year. Disgorged Aug. 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2033.

Castel Bonomi 2016 Franciacorta Extra Brut Cru Perdu                  94

Luminous straw yellow. Vanilla oak at first, then hints of pineapple and apple on the nose. Enters soft and round, then more lifted and acid, with considerable lemony bite on the long zingy finish. This is really outstanding, showcasing remarkably good acid/fruit/sugar balance despite its Extra Brut designation that all too often is associated with too drying sparkling wines, Champagne included. Disgorged Jan. 2023. Drinking window:

Castel Bonomi 2009 Franciacorta Extra Brut Riserva Lucrezia Etichetta Nera                   92

Medium golden orange with slightly slow-moving big bubbles. Briche, hot buttered toast, caramel, yellow flowers, ornage peel and vanilla on the nose and in the mouth. In an oxidised style that had me thinking à la Bollinger, so those who like these style of bubbly will really love this. Disgorged May 2022. Drinking window:

Contadi Castaldi.

Contadi Castaldi NV Franciacorta Brut                92

Pale yellow-gold. Subtly perfumed bouquet of fresh yellow apple, white peach, floral honey and herbs. Juicy but nicely focused, boasting very fruity orchard and stone fruit flavours and good tangy lift. Finishes with good persistence and an echo of lemongrass. Lots of wine for the money here. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Contadi Castaldi 2018 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero    92

Medium straw. Preserved lemon, pear, honeysuckle and minerals on the nose. Then chewy, medium-bodied citrus and orchard fruit flavours pick up mineral elements and a more exotic anise quality. The close is classically dry and mineral-driven. More serious than the Brut from Contadi Castaldi but not as much fun to drink. Both are however lovely sparkling wines that will find lots of fans. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Enrico Gatti.

Enrico Gatti NV Franciacorta Brut Nature    90

Pale straw-green. Yellow flowers, beeswax and chamomile on the slightly fruit-challenged nose. A little thin, with a highish acid, lemony mouthfeel at first, but finishes rounder than it starts. There’s a lot to be said for this wine’s purity, but I still would have liked a little more fruit. Chardonnay that spent at least 24 months on the lees. Disgorged May 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Enrico Gatti NV Franciacorta Satèn        91

Pale straw-yellow. Aromas and flavours of puff pastry, butter, yellow melon and banana, polus as complicating mineral note. Long on the clean straightforward aftertaste. Partly barrel-fermented, this spent 32 months on the lees. . Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Enrico Gatti NV Franciacorta Rosé         91

Pale straw-pink. Strawberry and herbs on the nose and the mouth. Very crystalline delivery of its high-acid but well-balanced fruit and floral flavours, as is typical of this winery. The aftertaste is long lively and fairly mineral. Pinot Noir that spent 25 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Enrico Gatti 2016 Franciacorta Nature          93

Pale straw-green. Very crisp nectarine, lemon peel, yellow apple and pear. Finishes long and complex, with laser-like acidity. A blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay that is partly barrel-fermented and spent about 48 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030.


One of the more exciting, up-and-coming wineries in Franciacorta today, the Gralò estate is a boon to the “less is more mantra”, making small production, very high-quality bubblies that deserve to be better known. Founded only in 2019 by two life partners who wanted to get back in touch with nature, you know the saying “try it, you’ll like it”?. Well, such will be the case too when you try Gralò’s wines.

Gralò Franciacorta Extra Brut   92

Bright straw green. Refined, light-bodied, penetrating aromas and flavours of green and yellow fruit and herbs. Finishes with a whiplash of acidity and a nice harmonious mouthfeel. 100% Chardonnay that is stainless steel fermented. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Gralò Franciacorta Satèn            93

Vivid straw yellow. Big ample rich aromas of almond, buttered toast, vanilla and peach. Then just as big and rich in the mouth and with similar flavours, this finishes gently mouthcoating and long. I’m usually not a big fan of Satèn bubblies with only 1 g/L of r.s., finding then to be usually much too dry, but this is a real joy. Well done. 100% Chardonnay that spent sixty months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Gralò Franciacorta Rosé Pas Dosé           93

Bright pink colour. Freshly baked cookies and red cherry aromas and flavours are nicely complemented by a note of nutmeg. As the bubbly category it belongs to implies, there is zero residual sugar here and yet this doesn’t taste punishingly dry at all. 100% Pinot Noir, stainless steel fermented and aged thirty months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Guido Berlucchi.

Guido Berlucchi 2016 Franciacorta Nature Blanc de Blancs    95

Luminous straw-green. Delicate orchard fruit, custard cream and lemon peel aromas are very refined and delicate. Then similar flavours marked by beautiful purity and a long, vibrant floral finish. Very refine, marvelous sparkling wine which can easily rival with the best in the world. Stainless steel fermented (using wood simplifies the Chardonnay wine, according to Ferdinando Ziliani) though the wine is aged in once-used barriques and tonneaux (this since 2019, the gola being to add volume but no oak presence to the wine). Made with grapes picked in the large Arzelle vineyard, seventeen hectares that are very warm and so the Chardonnay ripens fully and can be used to make a Nature wine such as this one that is remarkably well-balanced and not jarringly dry (only the grapes from the heart of the vineyard are used to make this wine). Disgorged in June 2023. First made in 2012, this bubbly is one of the top Franciacorta Blanc de Blancs in every vintage. Drinking window: 2024-2034.

Guido Berlucchi 2016 Franciacorta Nature           93

Golden-tinged straw yellow. Puff pastry, lemon custard, herbs and spices on the rich nose and palate. Finishes lemony and with a touch of potpourri. First made in 2009. A blend of 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Nero. Disgorged in June 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2032

Guido Berlucchi 2016 Franciacorta Nature Rosé        95

Bright pink. Delicate, refined aromas of red berries and spices. Clean, vibrant and long this has a silky texture and spicy strawberry and redcurrant flavours finishing long and pure. Another marvelously well-balanced wine from Guido Berlcuchi. A 100% Pinot Nero wine that is one of Italy’s best Rosé wines, sparkling or otherwise. Disgorged in June 2023. First made in 2011. Drinking window: 2024-2033

Guido Berlucchi 2013 Franciacorta Riserva Extra Brut Palazzo Lana Extrême                           95+

Deep yellow with bronze tones. Apricot, melon, and herbs dominate the nose and the plate. Creamy, rich and complex the finish lasts and lasts. Top quality bubbly. 100% Pinot Nero vinified as a white wine, Palazzo Lana was first made in 2004 vintage (at that time, only a few thousand bottles were made) but  was released in 2009 (the time spent on the lees has been since increased to ten years). Disgorged in June 2023. Made with the grapes from two high density vineyards, the Brolo and Quindicipiò (3255 meters). Drinking window: 2024-2035.

Guido Berlucchi 2011 Franciacorta Riserva Extra Brut Palazzo Lana Extrême                   94

Pale straw yellow. Green fruit, preserved lemon peel, candied kumquats, anise and herbs on the nose and in the mouth. Closes long, rich and layered, with a nicely building quality. This has really improved over the last year or so, becoming smoother and fruitier and even longer than before. 100% Pinot Nero vinified in white, Palazzo Lana was first made in 2004 vintage (only a few thousand bottles) but  was released in 2009 (the time spent on the lees has been since increased to ten years). Disgorged in June 2023. Made with the grapes from two vineyards only, the Brolo (which is 1.8 hectares large and north-facing, meaning the grapes don’t always ripen fully) and blended with the grapes from the Quindicipiò south-facing siteand where the grapes instead ripen easily. The grapes from these two vineyard sources make for a magical combination. This is an Extra Brut, a category that allows for 0-6 g/L r.s. but they have never gone higher than 4 g/L save for in 2005 when they had to leave behind more sugar than usual because it was a year of great acidity. The 20011 is both quantitative and qualitative, while no 2012 was made because of hail problems.  Drinking window: 2024-2033.

Guido Berlucchi 2008 Franciacorta Riserva Extra Brut Franco Ziliani                    93

Straw yellow. Big rich dense long creamy, this is a really voluptuous wine: what it might be a little lacking in elegance, it makes up for with juicy fruity charm. This wine is dedicated to Franco Ziliani, the father of the current sibling owners. As he loved Chardonnay, this is a 100% Chardonnay wine from vineyards in the commune of Corte Franca (a cooler commune that allows for bubblies of higher acidity). Only 4000 bottles made. It is a sparkling wine made with the winery’s finest Chardonnay grapes and back then it spent eleven years on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030.


Majolini NV Franciacorta Extra Brut Disobbedisco   92

Bright straw yellow. Very minty on the nose, then rounder and riper in the mouth with hints of botanical herbs and potpourri dominating the orchard fruit aromas and flavours. Very clean and long on the textured finish. Disgorged 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Majolini 2019 Franciacorta Pas Dosé              92

Vivid straw yellow. Minty herbs but also plenty of fruit, this is a very vertical and delicate wine as is typical of the Majolini style and the cooler part of Franciacorta the winery and its vineyards are located in. The mouthcoating finish closes long and tapered. Disgorged 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Majolini 2018 Franciacorta Brut Electo         91

Good full straw yellow colour. Clean, fresh, lively orchard fruit and herbs. Fresh and easygoing, with rising savoury notes on the long back end. Disgorged 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Majolini 2018 Franciacorta Brut       90

Clean, round, perhaps a little simple and straightforward, but with a nicely harmonious acid presence that nicely extends the flavours on the long finish. Disgorged 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Majolini 2015 Franciacorta Brut Blanc de Blancs       93

Good full straw-green. Aromas of orchard fruit, mint, and herbs. Clean and fresh but boasting a round, balanced mouthfeel while maintaining lovely vertical lift, with very good vibrancy to the ripe apple pear and apricot flavours, complicated by hints of tangerine. Lovely wine that is still drinking very young. Finishes with a hint of refined woody spices on the long back end. Disgorged 2022. Drinking window:


Mosnel NV Franciacorta Brut Nature             93

Translucent straw-green. Lime, apple, pear and gooseberry on the perfumed nose and palate. At once zingy and creamy with very good density and clarity to its penetrating orchard fruit and vanilla spice nuances that linger impressively on the back end. Very pretty wine. Disgorged Nov 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Mosnel NV Franciacorta Brut 42esima Cuvée      93

Richer and denser than the Brut Nature, with a saline bent to its peppery orchard fruit flavours. The finish is long, round, and clean. The Pinot Noir presence, even at only 4%, is quite obvious with a red berry presence that rises on the finish; at the same time, the Pinot Bianco is even more obvious (and it can’t help but be, at 30% of the blend): what the bubbly loses in refinement it gains in complexity, nuance and mellowness. Lovely stuff, this is really quite good. A blend of 66% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Bianco and 4% Pinot Noir. Disgorged June 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2033.

Mosnel 2019 Franciacorta Satèn        89

Luminous pale straw-yellow. Creamy fresh and long but not as multifaceted as I might have hoped, finishing quite rigid and steely. 100% Chardonnay. Disgorged July 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Mosnel NV Franciacorta Brut Rosé  92

Pale pink salmon colour. Fresh red berries, pepper and herbs on the nose and in the mouth. Long, creamy and ripe, not to mention very well-balanced.  Disgorged July 2023. Drinking window: 2024-20230.


Quadra NV Franciacorta Brut Q Black          92

Pale golden-tinged straw colour. Citrus fruit-accented nose go along with hints of white tea and almonds. Fresh and suave in the mouth on the long round finish. Simple, accessible easy to like bubbly that hints at grapefruit peel. A blend of Chardonnay (82%), Pinot Bianco (10%) and Pinot Noir (8%) this spent 24 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Quadra  2019 Franciacorta Satèn Brut  QSatèn             92

Pear, sabayon and thyme dominate the nose and the mouth: at once easygoing and very accessible but at the same time very satisfying. The finish is creamy and long. A blend of Chardonnay (80%), and Pinot Bianco (20%) released for sale after 41 months. There’s a lot to be said for the accessibility and mellowness that Pinot Bianco adds to sparkling wines that are being made to taste drier and drier these days. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Quadra  2016 Franciacorta Riserva Extra Brut Quvée 101    90

Maybe slightly big bubbles but creamy and fresh with a slightly saline bent to its austere, seriously long back end. A blend of Chardonnay (70%), and Pinot Noir (30%). About 80% of the base wines were aged in oak, but though the wood is present, this bubbly does not come across as being too oaky. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Quadra  2016 Franciacorta Riserva Dosaggio Zero QZero Nero  88

Deep straw colour. Herbs and minerals dominate the nose and on the palate: not so much fruit present here. 100% Pinot Noir: this is very serious, austere and even almost too dry on the long penetrating, very saline finish. I found this to be an atypical wine for this house, the wines of which are usually creamy, fruity and easy to drink and like. Drinking window: 2025-2030.

Quadra  2019 Franciacorta Rosé Brut QRosé            92

Very pink, almost pale red colour. Strawberry, cream soda, herbs and spices on nose and in the mouth. Full and crisp, but with a spicy peppery mouthfeel that also boasts plenty of fruit. A vertical wine that closes long, very inviting and food-friendly. A blend of Pinot Noir (86%), and Chardonnay (14%). Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Ricci Curbastro.

Ricci Curbastro NV Franciacorta Brut           93

Vivid pale straw yellow. Very pretty set of aromas and flavours of orange and tangerine mixed with pot pourri and butter and vanilla. Clean long and bright, this is an excellent bubbly. A blend of Chardonnay (60%), Pinot Bianco (30%), and Pinot Noir (10%) that spent roughly 30 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Ricci Curbastro  2019 Franciacorta Satèn Brut               90

Pale straw. Very delicate but pretty aromas of orchard fruit and white flowers. Very clean and a little simple on the crisp bright finish, offering hints of smoky vanilla. A 100% Chardonnay that spent roughly 40 months on the lees, but you’d never guess it given its paucity of leesy notes. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Ricci Curbastro  2019 Franciacorta Extra Brut               90

Good full pale yellow. A note of smoked ham note initially, then more fruity, with a broad ample and savoury mouthfeel. Finishes long and ripe, leaving a repeating smoky note behind. A blend of Pinot Noir (50%) and Chardonnay (50%). Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Ricci Curbastro 2014 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero Gualberto               91

Bright straw colour. Vanilla and quince dominate on the nose, then similar flavours that are rich, ripe and clean. Finishes long and classically dry with repeating notes of cooked, fermenting fruit and forest floor, with a finishing with a white pepper zing. A blend of Pinot Noir (60-70%), and Chardonnay (30-40%) that spent roughly 60 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2031.

Ricci Curbastro  NV Franciacorta Rosé Brut           91

Very pretty salmon pink colour. Red berries and flowers on the delicate but expressive nose. Enters creamy, then turns savoury and quite dry in the classical sense.  Finishes with slight hints of artichoke and thyme, and a tactile mouthfeel. A blend of Pinot Noir (80%), and Chardonnay (20%) that is especially good on the nose, while the green tinge to its flavour spectrum might not be for everyone. Drinking window: 2024-2030.


Romantica 2020 Franciacorta Satèn Brut              91

Pale golden yellow. Smoky, leesy orchard fruit and nectarine aromas are lifted by lemon zest. Citrus and pear flavours stain the palate, with a hint of minerality providing shape and focus. Bright and precise on the finish, with pear and herbs lingering nicely. A 100% Chardonnay that spent roughly 36 months on the lees, aged partly in stainless steel and oak. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Romantica 2019 Franciacorta Extra Brut     93

Bright pale straw colour. Aromas and flavours of puff pastry, lemon curd, grapefruit peel, and almond paste are clean, boasting noteworthy cut and clarity. Lovely, excellent stuff here. A blend of Chardonnay (90%) and Pinot Noir (10%) that spent roughly 36 months on the lees, and aged mostly in stainless steel and only 5% oak.  Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Romantica 2013 Franciacorta Riserva Dosaggio Zero       89

In an oxidative style, offering mostly savory herbs and cooked apple aromas, then fresher on the fruitier on the palate. Closes long, broad and mellow with repeating hints of yeastiness and earthiness. A 100% Chardonnay that spent roughly 96 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Ronco Calino.

Ronco Calino NV Franciacorta Brut Bio        88

Cooked apple on the nose, then rich ample and clean in the mouth with a very long orchard fruit finish. A blend of Chardonnay (80%), and Pinot Noir (20%) that spent roughly 30 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2028

Ronco Calino NV Franciacorta Satèn Brut Bio           87

Bright straw colour. Somewhat hard aromas and flavours are angular and not especially fruity, dominated by herbs and spices. Not especially mellow and for my taste, this also finishes slightly bitter. A 100% Chardonnay that spent roughly 30 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Ronco Calino 2018 Franciacorta Brut Nature Bio       90

More oxidative on the nose than the Satèn and Brut I tried from Ronco Calino this year, but with an underlying “bio wine” smell of baked apple and cider. Then better on the palate, where it is tasty, smoothly tactile and slightly saline. Long finish with a multilayered quality.  A blend of Chardonnay (70%) and Pinot Noir (30%) that spent roughly 42 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Ronco Calino 2017 Franciacorta Brut     88

Bright straw colour. Enters clean and creamy with plenty of orchard fruit flavours, but turns slightly bitter and drying in the middle and on the medium-long back end. A blend of Chardonnay (60%) and Pinot Noir (40%). Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Ronco Calino NV Franciacorta Rosé Brut Radijan     93

Luminous pale straw yellow. Aromas and flavours of clean, fresh small berries, herbs and spices that also dominate the clean long and expressive finish. This is quite good. A 100% Pinot Noir wine that spent roughly 30 months on the lees that struck me as the best wine I tasted from the winery this year, and not by a small mamrgin. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Santa Lucia.

Santa Lucia NV Franciacorta Brut          92

Straw yellow. Enters creamy, then turns more lemony and piercing with flavours of glazed kumquat and preserved Meyer lemon. A welcome hint of salinity adds lift to the very fresh, tapered finished. This is a very elegant bubbly. A blend of Chardonnay (90%), and Pinot Bianco (10%), and Pinot Noir (10%) that spent roughly 18 months on the lees. Disgorged summer 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Santa Lucia NV Franciacorta Satèn Brut      90

Bright pale straw colour. Peach pear and herbs on the nose and in the mouth. Creamy but and accessible on the bright medium-long finish. A 100% Chardonnay (60%) that spent roughly 24 months on the lees. Disgorged spring 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Santa Lucia 2016 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero            87

Medium straw colour. Orchard fruit aromas and flavours are slightly reticent, with the toasty oak (this was partly barrel-fermented) notes a little dominating and the finish is a little drying. A blend of Chardonnay (70%) and Pinot Noir (30%) that spent roughly 30 months on the lees. Disgorged winter 2022. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Santa Lucia 2012 Franciacorta Riserva Extra Brut Brolo dei Loghi                              89

Bright straw. Pungent aromas of pear, floral honey, smoke and clove. Nicely packed orchard fruit and citrus flavours are brightened by a hint of white pepper. The oakiness is such that it is just a touch bitter on the finish, with the clove and smoky notes repeating. A Chardonnay (100%) that spent roughly 60 months on the lees that shows a hint too much wood (this was partly barrel-fermented) though not so much that it becomes boring. Disgorged autumn 2019. Drinking window: 2024-20o29.

Santa Lucia 2012 Franciacorta Rosé Brut     92

Pale pink. Grapefruit, quince and a little oak on the nose and in the mouth, but unlike some other wines I tasted from Santa Lucia this year, this very successful, highly enjoyable bubbly is toasty rather than oaky. Finishes peppery and spicy (cinnamon) and very pretty. A blend of Chardonnay (60%), Pinot Bianco (30%), and Pinot Noir (10%) that spent roughly 30 months on the lees. Disgorged spring 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2029.


Santus NV Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero          88

Luminous straw yellow. Aromas of flowers, apricot and herbs. A leesy nuance at first, then creamy but a little monolithic in its delivery of creamy fruitiness. Finishes very dry, such that a little more residual sugar might have helped give this better balance. A blend of Chardonnay (70%) and Pinot Noir (30%) that spent roughly 30 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Santus 2019 Franciacorta Brut Satèn      87

Bright straw yellow. Aromas of yellow fruit and herbs. Enters creamy, then turns more tense and tapered with the lack of sugar making for a too dry drinking experience that leaves you scrambling for food. A Chardonnay (100%) that spent roughly 30 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Santus  2018 Franciacorta Rosé             90

Pale salmon pink, this is one of the prettiest Franciacorta Rosés to look at. Very perfumed nose of strawberry and herbs. Then bright and crisp, with good palate presence and a slightly tannic but harmonious mouthfeel on the long finish. There’s excellent fruit and precision here and it strikes me as having better fruit/acid/sugar balance than the other bubblies I tried from Santus this year; but this too, just like all the other Santus bubblies, would have benefited from just a touch of residual sugar to allow for better balance and more charm. A 100% Pinot Noir (10%) that spent roughly 40 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030.


Uberti NV Franciacorta Brut Nature Francesco I           93

Pale straw. Rich, complex nose of puff pastry and herbs complementing ripe orchard fruit aromas. Very creamy in the mouth, with puff pastry and fresh baked bread flavours nicely blended with notes of ripe orchard fruit and vanilla. Quite a mouthful of a bubbly, but though broad and creamy, it stays refined throughout, showcasing very good balance and palate presence. Doesn’t strike me as being one of the most classically dry Brut bubblies I have ever tasted, but no matter, as it’s irresistible. The glyceral sweetness this wine showcases in spades makes for a very delicious drink, and very Franciacorta in its ripe fruit-forward delivery. Disgorged Sept. 2022. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Uberti 2019 Franciacorta Brut Satèn Magnificentia         94

Pale straw green. White flowers, custard, and crème brulée, on the perfume nose. Closes rich, ripe and long with a creamy mouthfeel. Another textbook example of a Franciacorta category of bubbly, this is immediately recognizable as a Satén, and a very good one at that. Disgorged March 2023. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Uberti NV Franciacorta Brut Rosé Francesco I           94

Good full bright orangy-pink. Nuanced, exotic perfume of ripe peach, nectarine, sandalwood and honey. Juicy and nicely concentrated, with sweet stone and orchard fruit flavours, plus late notes of violet, cinnamon and tarragon. The aftertaste is juicy and subtly sweet, offering lingering violet and delicately honeyed notes. Disgorged Sept. 2022. Drinking window: 2024-2031.

Uberti 2015 Franciacorta Dosaggio Zero Riserva Sublimis                 91

Tropical fruit, tangerine, green lemon and grapefruit. Rich, complex and nicely lifted, this finishes with strong hints of potpourri and bitter herbs. A touch of r.s. might have limited the bitter sensation somewhat, but then I guess this wouldn’t be a dosaggio zero. Disgorged Feb 2022. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Uberti NV Franciacorta Extra Brut Dequinque Cuvee 15 Vendemmie                            91

Bright full straw colour. Coffee chocolate and quince flavours dominate on the nose and in the mouth. Creamy, long and vibrant on the solid finish. 100% Chardonnay. Disgorged Sept. 2022. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Villa Franciacorta.

Villa was founded in the 1960s and now owns 49 hectares. The winery only produces vintage wines, which therefore means all their wines are aged at least 36 months on the lees (the minimum requirement from the consorzio is 30 months). They have 25 plots planted only to the Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Angelo Divitini is the consultant winemaker, with Alessandro Gobbetti, a thirty years old winemaker, in house. At Villa they only use natural estate yeasts (they analyzed about 330 different yeasts selected in the cellar and had them studied by the University of Florence; they now use two, the R3 with Pinot Noir and R6 with the Chardonnay). The vines are average 25 years old but their oldest vines are 45 years old; two hectares are of Pinot Bianco, the majority are of Chardonnay. It’s the last estate to pick grapes in the Franciacortaa, as Villa Franciacorta is located in the eastern and colder part of the denomination. For example, in 2023 when there was a horrific drought in Franciacorta, the vines in this section of Franciacorta were still very green and leafy. The winery has been officially bio-certified since the 2017 vintage.

Villa 2019 Franciacorta Brut Emozione          92

Luminous straw yellow. Very clean fresh easygoing lime and vanilla cream on the nose and in the mouth. The aftertaste is long, clean, and fresh. This is a very precise wine that has sneaky concentration. Another classic bubbly from Villa. This is a blend of 80% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Bianco. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Villa 2017 Franciacorta Extra Brut Emozione Unica  91

Good full yellow. Complex aromas and flavours of apple, nectarine, savory herbs and strawberry. Rich ripe and lifted, this closes long and tactile but smooth. This is a unique wine in that the 2017 vintage was affected by frost (it hit between 17 and 18 April) allowing for only 30,000 bottles of wine instead of their customary 250,000 bottles/year). So this is an atypical blend of 50%Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir (hence the name of Emozione Unica: the wines will hopefully never produced again, laughed Roberta Villa). The 2017 is also the first vintage of official bio-certification for the estate. It is bottled as an Extra Brut because the percentage of Pinot Noir is so much more important in this blend. Drinking window:  2024-2030.

Villa 2008 Franciacorta Riserva Brut Emozione 40     94

Light, bright gold-tinged straw colour. Strikingly complex bouquet of tangerine, yellow apple, toasty lees, white flowers and marzipan. Deep and gently chewy, offering palate-staining orchard fruit and lemon custard flavours and a lashing of exotic spices plus floral honey. This is extremely well-balanced and impressively powerful, finishing with good minerality and lingering notes of honeyed orchard fruit. Drinking window:  2024-2030.

Villa 2007 Franciacorta Extra Brut RNA       94

Gold-tinged straw colour. Fresh gooseberry and peach aromas are complemented by blood orange and white flowers. Seductively sweet and pliant, offering lush apricot and peach flavours complemented by potpourri and candied jasmine. Rich creamy and savoury, this closes very clean and long. First made in 2010 as the 2004 vintage, a present from the daughter to the father, hence the wine’s name of Riserva Nobile Alessandro (or RNA for short). This will go out on sale in April of this year. A blend of 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir: only 2000 bottles made. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Villa 2019 Franciacorta Brut Rosé Bokè         94

Deep bright pink, almost pale red. Red berries and herbs on the nose and in the mouth. Very structured but fresh, long and tactile. Real serious Rosé. This is 100% Pinot Noir made by a twelve hours skin contact (in this vintage). The name Bokè is a reference to one of the most expensive prestigious corals. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Villa 2019 Franciacorta Rosé Pas Dosè Bokè Noir       93

Deep medium pink, obviously darker than the Bokè (which only has 12 hours skin contact compared to the 24 hours of this wine). Strawberry, raspberry and plum on the nose and in the mouth, complicated by herbs and spices. The aftertaste is rich and dense. This is 100% Pinot Noir with no liqueur d’expedition and made from different vineyards. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Villa 2016 Franciacorta Rosé Brut Bokè         92

Very elegant on the nose and in the mouth. A diesel fuel element rises at the long back end. This is 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir that spent about twelve hours in skin contact. Disgorged in March 2022. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Villa 2021 Chardonnay Curtefranca        91

Pale straw yellow. Quince apple and pear on the showy nose. Big rich and ample in the mouth, with very in your face ripe Chardonnay wine flavours. Nicely mellow and balanced on the long ample finish. Made from 45 years old vines that are partly Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco; they are now busy selecting again the best Pinot Bianco plants on the property for future propagation. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Villa 2018 Francicorta Briolette Rosé Demi Sec           92

Pale pink-straw colour. Perfumed aromas and flavours of red and white fruits, vanilla and white flowers. Flinty long and just slightly saline, the back offers a strong note of candied ginger and strawberry. This really lovely gently sweet bubbly will prove perfect with panettone or any simple or fruit-based angel food cake you can think of. It is, not so arguably, the best demi sec wine made in all of Franciacorta today, though I have had creamier and deeper versions of this bubbly in some other vintages. The wine’s name, “briolette”, is a reference to the three-dimensional drop-cut of gemstones that covers them in geometric shapes (so a very different look from a round- or princess-cut). This is a 50-50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Nero. Disgorged in March 2022.


Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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Ian D'Agata