In Franciacorta: Corteaura

‘I started this adventure because I loved sparkling wine,’ says Frederico Fossati, as he takes us around his winery, that he established 11 years ago. His background is accountancy. It’s easy to understand how making Franciacorta might seem more exciting.

Frederico and Pierangelo

He’s originally from the Veneto, and although it would have been quicker for him to start with Prosecco, he decided to a tour round Italy to find his place. He found Franciacorta and met his winemaker Pierangelo Bonimi, who has more than 30 vintages under his belt in the region. Partnered with Pierangelo, he knew this was the right place for his grand project.

‘When I moved from from Veneto to Franciacorta I wanted to do something different,’ says Frederico. ‘Pierangelo had been working for big companies in Franciacorta. We decided to start here because it was a solid point to start something interesting.’

Pierangelo Bonimi

The Corteaura signature is long ageing on the lees – longer than is required by the DOCG. Their logo is a turtle, a long-lived animal. It signifies the importance of age for top quality wines. Their Brut is 30-36 months of ageing on the lees, rather than 18 months.

They have 15 hectares of vines, but they buy some grapes as well. ‘The most difficult thing is to buy vineyards in Franciacorta,’ says Pierangelo. ‘Lots of people are looking and they aren’t available.’ This is a small area of fewer than 4000 hectares, when Champagne is 34 000 hectares. ‘For us, 15 hectares is a lot.’ Grape prices depend on the year, but in 2021 they were €1.80/kg, up 30% from 2000.

They started making wine here five years ago, but this is traditional method, so it was hard having to wait before releasing any wine. ‘We were building up bottles in our cellar, but we weren’t selling them,’ says Frederico. ‘I travelled Italy and met a lot of people making still red and white wine, and they let me distribute them in foreign markets.’ This meant that when it came time to sell the Corteaura wines, export was their first market. They now export 33% of their wines, which is a lot for the region.

Production is currently 100 000-110 000 bottles a year.

All the wines could legally be vintage wines because they are aged over 30 months on lees, but they are not declared as vintages. Only in the best years do they release a vintage-dated wine.

A Vespa collection in the winery


Corteaura Franciacorta Satèn NV
This is 2017 vintage. 100% Chardonnay, dosage 5 g/litre. This has a nice purity to it with a creamy undercurrent to the bright lemon and pear fruit. Lively and precise with nice purity and focus, showing lively acidity under the fine, lean but textured fruit. Aiming at elegance and focus, and getting there. 92/100

Corteaura Franciacorta Brut NV
2018 base year, 90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir, 3.5 g/l dosage. This is laser-sharp and bright with lovely focused lemony fruit as well as a touch of mandarin. Very pure and fresh with a touch of pear and green apple, with massive drinkability, but also a bit of complexity. Has a nice acid line and a sense of elegance and purity. Quite delicate. 91/100

Pierangelo likes his rosé best, and thinks that rosé can be the best expression of Franciacorta. The sales of rosé are increasing at the moment. They have sold out of rosé.

Corteaura Francicorta Rosé NV
75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay. Dosage 3 g/litre. 2017 base wine. This is made of three wines: Pinot Noir as a white, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir as a red wine (7%) then blended. Pale orange pink in colour, this has a lovely aroma of almond, cherries and spice. The palate has a nice spicy structure with a lovely tannic bite on the finish, some orange peel and herb notes, and lovely pear and apple fruit, as well as a touch of raspberry. It’s dry, complex and spicy with lovely structure. 93/100

Corteaura Franciacorta Pas Dosé NV
2016 base vintage. 80% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir. Fresh and linear with bright, crisp citrus fruit with a touch of pear. This is pure and quite delicate with good acidity. Shows nice purity and intensity with a lovely brightness on the finish. It may have no dosage, but the fruit carries this and it’s not at all tart or difficult. Very fine. 92/100

Corteaura Franciacorta Satèn Millesimato 2015
4 g/l dosage. 100% Chardonnay, 60 months on lees. Complex and fruit-driven with powerful pear and citrus fruit as well as a touch of creaminess. Textured and rich, with some weight to the palate. This has a hint of cabbage in the background with a lively lemony flourish on the finish. Great concentration here. 92/100

Corteraurea Franciacorta Insè Pas Dosé Millesimato 2013
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Chardonnay. Almost 80 months on the lees. This is complex and taut with concentrated crystalline citrus fruit. Powerful and linear with nice intensity to the pure citrus fruit, showing some subtle toastiness. Has great balance between the fruit and the acidity. Superb: still very fine, correct and linear, but beginning to develop bready, toasty complexity. 93/100

Corteaura Franciacorta Demisec NV
90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir. 36 months on lees. They just make 1000 bottles of this. 30 g/litre dosage. Grapey and rich with sweet fruit and a soft mouthfeel. Good acidity supports the sweet fruit. It’s genuinely sweet but avoids being cloying. 89/100

Find these wines with