Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Wine day trips from Bergamo to Franciacorta

Once a year, my family gathers to spend some quality summer time together up at my parent's house on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. I always enjoy talking to my father's first cousin, who is originally from Bergamo, Italy. Bergamo is located in the region of Lombardy, or Lombardia, which is a major industrial region and a financial powerhouse. It's a shame she hasn't been able to visit since she was a child. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to provide a suggestion for a perfect day trip from Bergamo to a major wine destination for the region, Franciacorta. If you are a sparkling wine lover, you won't want to miss it.
Day trips from Bergamo, Italy
Bergamo by Jose A.
The city of Bergamo consists of two parts, an upper and lower level, known as the Alta Citta Bassa Cittarespectively. These different levels of the city are connected by a funicular, funicolare, and there are also walking trails to get from one point to another. Bergamo is a city known for its medieval art, and you can find many of the main sites located on the upper level. There you will find the Piazza Vecchia, Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore and the Duomo di Bergamo e Battistero. For art lovers there is also the Carrara Academy Gallery. The lower level of Bergamo features mostly residences.
Alta Citta of Bergamo in Lombardy, Italy
Alta Citta of Bergamo by David Spender
Those looking to escape outside the city for the day for great food and wine should consider Lake Iseo, Lago Iseo, that is home to one of the top sparkling wines in all of Italy, Franciacorta. It's situated at the base of the glacially formed lakes that sit on the morainic axis. These stones and minerals impart one of the most common characteristics of Franciacorta wines -- minerality. The climate of this region is mitigated by Lake Iseo and others. 
Lago Iseo - Lake Iseo
Lago Iseo by Franco Folini
The primary grapes that make up a Franciacorta wine are pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot bianco. There is a saten version that only consists of chardonnay and pinot bianco like a blanc-de-blanc in France. There are vintage and non-vintage Franciacorta, and which one you select determines the percentage of grapes used and the length of aging. Vintage Franciacorta require 30 months of aging with at least 85 percent of the grapes coming from that particular vintage. The non-vintage Franciacorta require 18 months of aging with a blend of vintages allowed. A reserve Franciacorta is actually aged for 60 months.
Franciacorta in Lombardy
Franciacorta by Daniele Pieroni
How does Franciacorta compare to Champagne? It is produced in the same classic champenoise method, but is much more reasonably priced and a creamier style of sparkling wine.  The only issue is it's not as easily accessible here in the states as much of it is kept within Italy.
One of the original producers of this region that should be on your list to visit is Berlucchi winery, but there are over 70 wineries in Franciacorta to check out. 

If you're looking for somewhere to base yourself out of in Bergamo, I was recently asked to write an article on the Winter Garden Hotel for Hipmunk that would be worth seeking out. If you've visited this region, what were your favorite places to visit and sights to see?

This article is associated with #Hipmunkcitylove.