Lombardy is in the north, just under Switzerland, and it is home to Milan and Italy’s major business centers. Lombardy (Lombardia, in Italian) is also the center for what some consider Italy’s best sparkling wines. Though the Veneto has long been known for its prosecco, the Franciacorta DOCG, one of two DOCGs in Lombardy, is famous for its sturdier, elegant, Champagne-style sparkling wines, which are made by metodo classico, the traditional French Champagne-making process requiring two separate fermentations, among other steps. The sparkling wine industry here is relatively young, having started only in the 1960s. But money for Lombardy wineries has come from wealthy regional industrialists, and it has grown quickly. There are nearly 70,000 vineyard acres in Lombardy and it ranks eleventh in terms of production among Italy’s wine regions. There are thirteen DOCs making red and white wines. Chardonnay is the dominant white grape and it is used in many sparkling wines. Red wines are made from Barbera, Bonarda, Lambrusco and Chiavennasca, which is a regional variation of Nebbiolo. Bellavista in Franciacorta is the most famous producer in Lombardy, although the DOC Oltrepo Pavese is also considered to have an excellent terroir. Valtellina, which has a DOCG and DOC, in the far north makes Chiavennasca, which is Nebbiolo.
This red wine is relatively light and can pair with a wide variety of foods. The grape prefers cooler climates and the wine is most often associated with Burgundy, Champagne and the U.S. west coast. Regional differences make it nearly as fickle as it is flexible.