In Lombardy, with Milan as the economic and cultural center, the wine production, has always been very oriented, for obvious reasons, towards the demands from this important city on the road between north and south, east and west. Certain wine styles, which are not very common in other places, have been developed in Lombardy, because of a strong and demanding customer base, and that’s probably why Lombardy has two wine areas in which the development of sparkling wines made according to the traditional method is the most advanced in Italy.
Franciacorta in the southeastern part of Lombardy, near Lake Garda, is the Italian ‘answer’ to Champagne. This is where the big wine houses with their Chardonnay-dominated spumante produce wines of excellence that don’t taste quite like champagne, because a Franciacorta typically contains a little more alcohol than a champagne does, and therefore Franciacorta has a slightly rounder flavor profile.
In the southwest corner of Lombardy, near Milan, we find Oltrepò Pavese, that in recent years has evolved to be one of the top Pinot Noir regions in the world. All this delightful Pinot Noir is used for a new generation of Metodo Classico sparkling wines as a successor for the type of wine that for many years was and still is among the favorites at the Milanese lunch tables, a light sparkling red wine, Frizzante, which is not particularly popular in foreign markets, but in Milan it goes fantastically with the rustic, often slightly heavy local dishes that are served.
Besides the two mentioned Metodo Classico wines, one might well be led to characterize Lombardy wines as lunch-oriented only, but there is an area that deviates from this gross generalization: Valtellina.
Valtellina is up north at the ski resorts in the Alps, and for some reason, the Piedmont Nebbiolo has been transferred to Valtellina, which has quite different growing conditions than Nebbiolo’s familiar surroundings in Piedmont. In Valtellina the grape is called Chiavennasca and it has many different subzone designations under Valtellina.
These wines have their own style and character and should not be compared with the Nebbiolo wines from Piedmont. Valtellina has a speciality called Sfurzat and it is made from dried grapes, just like an Amarone in Veneto..