Questions sometimes emerge that can change the destiny of persons and places.
“And what if we were to make a sparkling wine as the French do?’”
was precisely such a question.
In 1955, young and irrepressible oenologist Franco Ziliani directed that query to Guido Berlucchi, a country gentleman who was looking for a consultant who could improve his Pinot del Castello, and what he found instead was a partner for an adventure in fine taste that would profoundly transform the destiny of Franciacorta.
Ziliani was fascinated by the elegant figure of Berlucchi, by his handsome mansion, Palazzo Lana Berlucchi, and by its ancient underground cellars. His youthful dream was to produce a classic-method wine in his native area, Franciacorta, and he boldly proposed to Berlucchi the idea of making a sparkling wine in a winegrowing area long dedicated to still table wines.
Berlucchi accepted, and the two pioneers joined forces with Berlucchi’s friend Giorgio Lanciani. The challenge was taken up, and, after some less-than-satisfactory vintages, 1961 finally saw the corking of three thousand bottles of Pinot di Franciacorta. When the corks were drawn the following year, the wine met all their expectations. Franciacorta was born!
In 1962, Ziliani created Italy’s first classic-method rosé, Max Rosé, inspired by Massimiliano Imbert, a Milan-based antiquarian friend of Berlucchi’s who prized the French sparkling rosés and desired an Italian rosé that would satisfy his refined taste. Max Rosé’s name, appearance, and taste completely won him over.
In the following years, the wine attracted such growing interest that the trio expanded production. Pinot di Franciacorta was re-named Cuvée Imperiale, and the Cellarius Millesimati (vintage-dated) Franciacortas emerged.
The winery grew, but in 2000 it suffered a blow, the death of nobleman Guido Berlucchi. He left a worthy heritage however, the foundation that bears his name, dedicated to medical research.