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Franciacorta creates 134 subzones

March 16, 2024 Tags: 0 comments
The Franciacorta consortium has created 134 subzones. This is the news.

Robert Joseph suggests there may be method behind the madness. I disagree.

For the past decade or so, Franciacorta has been striving to establish itself as a brand akin to Champagne. Despite significant investments by the Franciacorta Consortium in various events and initiatives, at least for the UK market, success has been elusive. Awareness of the Franciacorta wines remains limited, one explanation is that for many wine drinkers Italian sparkling wine, whether made using the classic or Charmat methods, is associated with Prosecco.

We could also debate and argue the effectiveness of the Consortium's marketing choices; personally, I believe the money could have been spent differently, but that's a topic for another post.

The decision to create 134 subzones within the appellation, in contrast to Chianti Classico's 11 or Lodi's 8 in California, appears illogical and impractical. Soave, the closest comparison, has only 33 subzones, referred to as "Crus" but created with the same principles and intentions: increase sales. Creating 134 subzone means a subzone for each, or a few, wineries with the risk of diluting the already modest Franciacorta brand. Furthermore, it may lead top tier, award winning wineries to distance themselves from potential conflicts and disputes among subzones, ultimately undermining the collective identity of Franciacorta.

Exactly as I wrote in the Soave post, subzones or crus, in today wine world, where wine is produced all over the world, are just a waste of resources, financial and not, especially when dealing with a relatively little known brand like Franciacorta. With 134 subzones, the differences between zones may be minimal, sometime too minimal to even be identified in the wine, even for wine professionals, let alone the average wine drinker, creating confusion and putting people off the brand all together.

How can a wine drinker choose between subzones without investing considerable time researching each one? If in the case of the Soave, the intention was to revitalize a once beloved brand, the rationale for Franciacorta seems more geared toward generating attention and sparking curiosity among wine drinkers. However, the question remains: will this strategy effectively resonate with the average wine drinkers or will obscure the Franciacorta brand further?

Creating 134 subzones risks further diluting the brand and worsening confusion among wine drinkers, many of whom, still associate Italian sparkling wine with Prosecco and are unwilling to pay a premium for Italian alternatives. When faced with a choice between a bottle of Franciacorta or Champagne, based on my experience made of hundreds of tastings and thousands of conversations with wine drinkers, 7 out 10 still opt for Champagne, despite not knowing how it is made, often choosing it solely for its reputation, and despite Champagne must be aged for at least 15 months against the 18 months for a Franciacorta, extra ageing resulting, in principle, in a better wine.

I believe the Consortium should have prioritized and invested in strengthening the Franciacorta brand first before considering any division into subzones. If, on the other side, they really believe subzones can help promoting the brand, they should have limited their number to prevent any one subzone from overshadowing the Franciacorta brand itself.
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