Primo Franco of Nino Franco

In 2019, Cantine Franco celebrated its centenary.

Founded in 1919 in Valdobbiadene – Nino Franco, the brand – is named after the son of founder Antonio Franco.

It is, however, the third generation that made the wine what it is today.

Primo Franco – at first with his father and then solo – modernised the winery.

Armed with a diploma from the Conegliano Veneto School of Oenology – and complemented by travels, observation and reflection – Primo Franco was convinced to produce a great wine, you need to control production not just from a technical point of view but also the raw material, namely grapes, in this case the Glera.

Primo Franco revolutionised Prosecco when he withdrew his single-vineyard Grave di Stecca from DOCG status. His wife Annalisa looks after their guest-house Villa Barberina

Daughter Silvia Franco in the walled, single-vineyard Grave di Stecca

Primo Franco assumed responsibility for the family winery in 1982.

Then, at the start of the 1990s, he took over a vineyard and experimented with different methods of planting even as he cultivated old clones.

At the same time, Primo worked closely with local growers to produce ever better fruit so that what emerges from every bottle of Nino Franco Prosecco is not just pristine Glera but a variety that speaks of a sense of place – the terroir – of Valdobbiadene and the Prosecco hills.

For his vision and boldness in shaking up Prosecco, Primo Franco has been likened to what Pierro Antinori and Angelo Gaia have done for Tuscany and Piedmont respectively.

Nino Franco Rustico Brut is the flagship of the house. It has about 10 g/l of residual sugar. The bubbles are created by the charmat or “cuve close” or closed tank method. At 4.85 atmospheres, the tenacity of the bubbles is closer to cremant than champagne which pressure is usually 6 atmospheres. Rustico shows hallmark pear and appley fruit chased relentlessly by freshness.

Nino Franco Grave di Stecca Brut is a single vineyard that is a clos or walled property. The vineyard is on south-facing slopes in Valdobiaddene. Planted in 1993, a still wine is also produced. The stony soil gives the vineyard its name “Grave” which is not unlike Graves in Bordeaux. Produced 100% from Glera, the dosage is only 7 g/l.  The governing authorities of Prosecco found Grave di Stecca so unlike normal Prosecco they had problems awarding it DOCG status. In return, Primo Franco did a one-upmanship on them because in 2009, he liberated Grave di Stecca from DOCG consideration. And simply described it as spumante. Grave di Stecca is in a class of its own. And very sought-after and highly prized and priced.

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