Have you ever heard about Franciacorta?
Italy is scattered with thousands of wine farms and Lombardy is no exception. Thanks to a hard work of research and sperimentation in vineyards and cellars and an evolution that has lasted for decades, nowadays the wines from Lombardy – both red and white – are among the most excellent ones in Italy.
The harvesting of wine grapes, usually taking place between late August and October, is one of the most crucial times of the year for every wine farm, since it’s the most essential step in the process of wine making.
Of all the wines from Lombardy one is particulary synonymous with excellence and renown: Berlucchi, an icon of made in Italy. What makes Berlucchi so special it’s the use of the French classic-method: wines of different grapes are assembled together and fermented a second time in the bottle adding special yeasts and sugar. Berlucchi was the first wine farm of Franciacorta to apply it to sparkling wines.
A few weeks ago, invited by the Berlucchi company, I had the chance to had a dream of mine come true: taking part into the harvesting of wine, an experience that has always intrigued me. Luckily my dream came true in an amazing location – that of Franciacorta – and with one of the most well-known wine farms in Italy, with a story rich in family traditions and love for its territory.
Berlucchi’s vineyards are in Franciacorta, a hilly area located between Lake Iseo and the city of Brescia. Thanks to its mild climate and puculiar soil vine varities have been planted here since ancient times and with great results.
When I arrived to the vineyards the pickers were already at work, probably since dawn. At Berlucchi the bunches of grapes are picked by hand, with absolute care. The vineyards are now completely organic, wich means no pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used.
The bunches are stored in boxed and then carried by tractors to the cellars, where they are selected and taken to the processing rooms. Every day 200.600 kilos of grapes are processed, each press squeezing out one hectare of grapes. What you get is wort, that is a sort of grape juice that is then cooled and taken to the next room: here yeasts are added and the fermentation begins.
Wort is sweet but odorless, has already the typical yellow color of wine but is much different from what the wine will be. It is divided into four portions and separately fermented within stainless steel tanks or oak barriques. Some wines, after alcohoolic fermentation, undergo batonnage, an operation in which yeasts are mixed in order to enhance the final aroma.
During winter cuvée tests are carried out to establish the quality of the wines. After their bottling, wines are kept in the cellars for a period ranging from eighteen to sixty months, which makes up the second fermentation and later refinement of yeasts.
At Guido Berlucchi the wine cellars are open for guided tours from Monday to Friday, from 9.30 to 11 am and from 2.30 to 5 pm, reservation necessary. Professional guides will accompany you through cellars and historic rooms where the name of Berlucchi, but of Franciacorta too, was written.
The Berlucchi’s vineyards extends over more than 500 hectares around Borgonato, a small village in Franciacorta, a very nice destination all year around. After a visit of the Berlucchi wine cellars I highly recommend that you take a ride along the so called Wine road, stretching through vineyards, farms, hills and the surrounding countryside, that will take you directly to Lake Iseo, another attraction not to miss in the area.