Berlucchi: An all-Italian story of inspiration, passion and ingenuity

Introductory look at Franciacorta’s Berlucchi winery. How Berlucchi laid the path down for Classic Method production of sparkling wines in Northern Italy.

By Francesca Ciancio
Fri, Mar 19


tagAlt.Berlucchi Vista Castello cover
tagAlt.Berlucchi winery entrance 1 tagAlt.Berlucchi winery Vigna Brolo 2 tagAlt.Guido Berlucchi Ziliani Family winery 3 tagAlt.Berlucchi underground cantina 4

If history is in fact made up of sliding doors, and the “what ifs” of life, we could pose the following quandary to our readers:  what would Franciacorta look like had it not been for the presence of Guido Berlucchi?  And who would Guido Berlucchi have become had it not been for Franco Ziliani?  But the biggest question we have:  would the Franciacorta we love today look and feel the same?

In truth, none of these questions have a straightforward answer.  Instead, we open up a whole new world of maybes, including the possibility that Franciacorta would today be a land where still wines would be running the show.  The sparkling elements we know today were in fact, introduced by the Berlucchi-Ziliani duo, and we have them to thank for their introduction of the Classic Method (Metodo Classico) to this region just outside of Brescia, which was primarily redoubted for their production of red and white wines.

And it is in fact, a white wine, Pinot del Castello, which Guido Berlucchi cannot stabilize, and this white wine which will prove to be the impetus wine for the beginning of Berlucchi’s bubbly adventure.

It’s thanks to this inability that Palazzo Lana’s owner, Guido Berlucchi, requested assistance from Franco Ziliani, a young, dream-filled enologist with a life-long goal of planting the Metodo Classico “flag” in this region.  Ziliani’s boyhood goal was indeed to produce a sparkling wine in the land of his birth, Franciacorta.

Ziliani’s prose must have been quite convincing, particularly considering his young age and recent graduation from the Alba enological school, and Berlucchi must have been armed with a particular vein of courage.  Their future as collaborators on this sparkling wine project bode well, and in 1961, Guido Berlucchi & C. was established.

In just seven years of collaboration (beginning from 1955), the partners were already making waves and creating history:  in 1961, they produced the first Pinot di Franciacorta produced with the Metodo Classico.  In 1962, Max Rosè was born, Italy’s very first sparkling rosé wine.

Keeping our eyes on dates, let’s jump ahead for a look at 2021.  This year will mark the 60th anniversary of the Borgonato winery.  This birthday is particularly relevant and significant for the entire wine region, as it recalls the massive enological phenomena of Italian wine, and celebrates the success the region has experienced by implementing the strictest production disciplinary of Metodo Classico in the world.  It’s no coincidence that in 1995, this region was the first to earn DOCG recognition for sparkling wine in Italy.



Today, Franco's children run the Berlucchi estate: Cristina, Arturo, and Paolo.  The foresight of their antecedents remains firmly entrenched:  a territory of low morainic hills, a climate mitigated by the vicinity of the Lake Iseo, and an ancient wine cellar burrowed underneath the foundations of Palazzo Lana all contribute to making Franciacorta and its wines unlike any other Italian region and selection.

Guido Berlucchi's wines have charismatically remained timely throughout the course of the past decades, and have consistently been a bridge between current trends and physical projects.  This timeliness is a typical characteristic of the Franciacorta brand:  modernity and the desire to constantly expand Franciacorta’s awareness, be it via new labels, cutting-edge partnerships, and This is one of the characteristics of the Franciacorta's brand, modernity, the constant desire to get involved in new labels, partnerships and trends in the world of wine.

Today’s flagship label of the Berlucchi Maison remains Palazzo Lana, neatly representing 6 decades of wine-making history.  The winery’s most recognized bottle remains the Cuvée Imperiale vintage, available widely on the shelves in major grocery stores, and making its way into Italian homes and dinner tables during the holidays.  The perfect label of the Berlucchi estate is represented by Extreme, a reserve selection that spends a minimum of 9 years on yeasts during the production process.  This renowned label is so appreciated that the 2009 vintage was just awarded 93 points by Wine Spectator in 2021.

The “naked and rawbubbles instead find their ideal maximum expression in the Berlucchi '61 Nature vintages:  a '61 Nature Blanc de blancs, a '61 Nature Rosé and a Berlucchi '61 Nature, with all vintages classified as Millesimato (a sparkling wine crafted from grapes all harvested in a single year), all wines maintaining a complete zero dosage (no sweet wine or fortification added to the base sparkling wine).

The fruit, be it Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, is the single protagonist of these wine selections.  They are fresh and satisfying selections, maintaining a straight, direct line and experience.

If vintage and fun kitsch are what you’re in the mood for, the Berlucchi '61 range is your perfect match.  The light-hearted, colorful approach these wines possess are a clear wink to the effervescent attitude of the 1960s as a general rule.  This sparkling wine line includes a Brut, a Satén, and a 24-month bottle-aged Rosé selection for a public who is ever-more alert and educated about their search for top-quality wines produced in the Franciacorta wine region.



The underground wine cellars of the Berlucchi estate are alone  worth the trip to Franciacorta.  The historical Berlucchi cellar is 10 meters underneath street level, and features an array of tunnels and great vaults.  These pathways were entirely constructed around the Palazzo Lana’s central heart, dating back to the end of the 1600s.   Riddling racks, or inverted V-shaped sparkling wine shelves dominate the cellars’ visual impact, and guide visitors’ eyes toward the niche at the very end of the tunnel system.  Here, within the niche, the very first Berlucchi bottle, the “revolution with bubbles,” from the 1961 era is kept and displayed.

Berlucchi has undertaken a very transparent path to sustainability and environmental responsibility.  The winery’s focus on environmental and social issues initially took shape in 2020 with the release of the winery's first Sustainability Report, largely believed to be the most accurate report of all of the Italian sparkling wine appellations.

The study, focusing on data from 2019 and onwards, was created in collaboration with the EY Sustainability and LIFEGATE.  The study analyzes the Berlucchi’s approach to environmental practices by evaluating the effectiveness of improvements and modifications the winery has undertaken on its 85 hectares of privately-owned vineyards, and the the 450 hectares of its partners’ vineyards.

Assessments include the findings of Berlucchi’s attempt to slow down soil depletion with cutting-edge experimental techniques, the Berlucchi producer’s battle against climate change with new enological approaches, the incorporation of more appropriate indigenous grape varieties such as Erbamat, and the reduction of resource consumption.

The Berlucchi estate also decided to dedicate resources towards improving upon at-risk social issues. Thanks to this focus, the Academia Berlucchi project kicked off in 2019.  Here, the program for educational Hospitality was created at the winery’s historic headquarters, with the goal of encouraging the “Destination Franciacorta,” program.  

A program of Corporate Social Responsibility was also created by the Berlucchi Academia, with training and reconnection with nature as primary directives within the initiatives.  The end goal of the Berlucchi efforts are to restore value to these invaluable wine lands, and to help usher in a new generation of enthusiastic, passionate new winemakers and wine lovers.


If exploring new wine territories is an ever-fascinating experience for you, be sure to check out the other wine regions Mamablips’ intrepid journalists have explored for you.  Continuing with Francesca Ciancio, we can head south to Sicily’s Pantelleria island to explore Donnafugata’s Ben Ryé wine.  Want some Tuscany in your wine diet?  Let’s watch and learn about the Montalcino wine region with Filippo Bartolotta as he brings us on an unforgettable voyage into the Brunello wine lands - check out the Consorzio Vino di Brunello di Montalcino and see how Brunello wines are growing in reputation and fame in the wine world.

Don't forget to register for Mamablip's weekly newsletter for updates on all the exciting newest Mamablip Blog articlesrecipes and other wine news from Italy.

all.sign in to leave a review

tagAlt.Pinot di Franciacorta 1961 original bottle 5 tagAlt.Berlucchi Ziliano family portrait inside 6 tagAlt.Woman tasting EVOO cover

Inspiring Women: Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Boosts Women

How international organizations work to promote women’s and advancement in world of EVOO. Global groups inspire women’s advancement in male-dominated agrarian world.

05/05/2021 | 9 views
By Francesca Ciancio
tagAlt.Chiaretto pizza and wine Cover

Chiaretto’s Lightness Plays a Visual and Tasting Role

Learn about Chiaretto’s hues and how they play a role in Chiaretto’s flavor. Learn how Chiaretto’s citrus and sapidity notes shine through its pale pink color.

03/05/2021 | 166 views
By Francesca Ciancio
tagAlt.Podere Le Ripi above winery Cover

Podere Le Ripi's Inspiration Lies Within its Wine-Makers

Podere Le Ripi stays in the hearts Brunello lovers. Learn about the wine-makers inspiring Podere Le Ripi’s unusual approach to crafting Brunello wines.

30/04/2021 | 129 views
By Lele Gobbi
tagAlt.Liquorificio bottles aromas Cover

Baldinini Liquorificio Inspires Italy’s Vermouth Makers

History of a classic Italian aperitif drink, Vermouth. Learn about one of Italy’s premiere Vermouth producers, and what makes for a great, smooth, Bitter.

28/04/2021 | 59 views
By Andrea Grignaffini
tagAlt.Emilia Romagna landscape Cover

Emilia-Romagna's Food&Wines that Will Win You Over

The wines of Emilia-Romagna perfectly complement the gourmet delicacies of this Italian region. Sweet, fizzy Lambrusco yields to a new era of winemakers and styles.

26/04/2021 | 109 views
By Lele Gobbi
tagAlt.Malcesince Lake Garda landscape Cover

Explore Lake Garda and Garda DOC With Insider Access

An insider perspective on what makes Italy’s Garda DOC wine region worth exploring. Specialty wines distinguish Italy’s largest lake and its charming locales.

23/04/2021 | 98 views
By Francesca Ciancio
tagAlt.Podere Forte grain fields summer Cover

Biodynamic Farm Podere Forte Rolls out New Pasta Project

Classic Tuscan farmhouse noted for biodynamic farm approach takes on Pasta. Learn about new organic pasta selections from biodynamic leader in Tuscany.

21/04/2021 | 75 views
By Andrea Grignaffini
tagAlt.Borgogno Cascina Liste Cover

New Faces - Borgogno’s Youthful Guidance Earns Grand Results

Fresh leadership at historic Borgogno winery in Piedmont brings inventive results. New wines, new labels, new styles ensure continued spaces for renowned Langhe winery.

19/04/2021 | 107 views
By Francesca Ciancio
tagAlt.Piave Dop cheese cut Cover

Piave DOP Cheese: an Italian Heritage Worth Protecting

What makes the Piave DOP cheese selections a unique Italian gourmet treat. Different agings of Piave DOP cheese create range of eating possibilities.

16/04/2021 | 170 views
By Lele Gobbi
tagAlt.Customers trying food 1

Modified Italian Cooking that Makes Italians "Mad at Food"

Why do Italians get worked up about their food and cultural appropriation? Learn why the Italian culinary movement can take the heat when others change it.

14/04/2021 | 102 views
By Sara Porro