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Franciacorta tasting notes

text and photographs © 2014 Tom Cannavan

These notes accompany our in-depth feature on Franciacorta and its wines.


Lo Sparviere is imported into the UK by Coe Vintners.

Lo Sparviere, Franciacorta Satèn NV, Italy
100%chardonnay, 20% of which was fermented and aged in big old barrels. Made with 7g/l of sugar and a low pressure of 4.4 bar, it spends 36 months on the lees. The nose offers gentle toast and honey with lots of creamy richness and buttered Brazil nut notes. The palate has huge natural sweetness, and that silk and butter fatness is beautifully cut through by slicing grapefruit acidity. Delicious stuff, fishing with lively citrus freshness. 90-91/100.

Lo Sparviere, Franciacorta Brut 2008, Italy
Only 6g/l of sugar for this 100% chardonnay cuvée that spends 36 months on the lees. Bold yellow/gold. Beautiful smoky minerality, less honey than the Satèn, and has a cool sense of precision as well as fruit intensity. The palate shows that smoky, flinty mineral style, the fruit sweetness is very pronounced: a really full and rich style but the grapefruit sharpness of the finish punches through the concentration. 91/100.

Lo Sparviere, Franciacorta Rosé Monique NV, Italy
A saignée of Pinot Noir with a bronze tinged, onion-skin, delicate colour. Nice Pinot earthy and truffle vinosity, and that touch of mineral again, wisping smoke comes through. It has a touch of baked apple pie pastry, but then the vinous, truffle-touched meatiness though there is elegant balance and length. The wine is fermented very cool indeed, and even though it has 12 hours of skin contact, the idea is not to express red fruit, but Pinot texture and the terroir. According to Costantino their oenologist worries constantly about the delicate bronze colour, but they are determined to bottle with a natural Pinot 'partridge eye' colour. 90-91/100.

Lo Sparviere, Franciacorta Extra Brut 2007, Italy
Comes from the oldest vineyards, 30 years old and at 400 metres altitude, giving a very low yield. It is given 60 months on lees. All chardonnay, with a low yield of 40hl/ha, around 40% is fermented in 450-litre barrels. Lovely light gold colour. Brazil nuts and butter flood from the nose. A honey and vanilla weight and yet such pleasing mint leaf and floral nuances. Luxurious on the palate, it retains that pleasing green herb edge, with delicious toast and authority. Not austere, but dry and salty on the finish. 93/100.

Lo Sparviere, Franciacorta Riserva 2004, Italy
From magnum, this had 10 years on the lees. Salts and dry, very fresh aromas. Very, very taut and finely chiselled, white fruits and a hint of cappuccino softness just in the background. The freshness and concentration is on the palate, with a really firm and concentrated core, a touch of that creamy, smoky quality and lovely mineral grip. There's a taut almost meaty character in a singular wine. 94/100.

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