Valtellina is one of the great Nebbiolo wines of Italy, Franciacorta is also responsible for some of the greatest Sparkling wines - few have heard of either.
Franciacorta is a recent phenomenon probably created by Berlucchi, whose Pinot Bianco was an instant revelation, in 1967 the DOC was awarded followed by a further promotion to DOCG in 1995. This provided a real impetus and investment for the ‘Classic Method Sparkling Wines’. The rules are more stringent than those of Champagne, the main difference (apart from terroir) is that there is little Pinot Meurnier here and Pinot Bianco is popular.
There are also extensive plantings of Riesling and Pinot Noir around Pavia (which will trouble neither Germany nor France). From the eastern border, below lake Garda comes a white wine called ‘Lugana’, this is made from a vine known as ‘trebbiano di Lugana’ which is identical to verdicchio (from the Marche). For many years Zenato’s, Ca dei Frati and Ottella have been the established names and they all make excellent wine.