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Anche il New York Times parla di Prosecco Superiore

L’area storica di produzione del Prosecco difende il suo pedigree… E’ questo il titolo dell’articolo pubblicato sul The New York Times dell’11 gennaio, dedicato al Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, la storica espressione di uno dei vini fenomeno del nuovo millennio. Non a caso, dai dati del Centro Studi di Distretto, presentati recentemente, emerge che gli Stati Uniti sono cresciuti dal 2009 al 2010 del +81,9% e rappresentano oggi, assieme al Canada, il secondo mercato estero con il 19% dell’export e 4,37 milioni di bottiglie.
Un successo dovuto alle caratteristiche intrinseche del prodotto, ma anche alle capacità manageriali delle aziende. Nel pezzo del New York Times, firmato dal giornalista Alan Tardi, si parla della forte identità del Superiore, frutto di 150 anni di storia, di un territorio straordinario e di produttori che, da generazioni, ricamano con pazienza le pendici delle colline oggi candidate a Patrimonio Unesco. Un impegno, questo, che sarà premiato anche con l’elezione del Prosecco ( doc e docg) ad Area Enologica dell’Anno da parte della rivista Wine Enthusiast, che il 30 gennaio consegnerà alla VicePresidente del Consorzio Tutela Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Elvira Bortolomiol, e al Presidente del Consorzio Prosecco Doc, Fulvio Brunetta, l’ambito riconoscimento. La cerimonia si terrà nel corso del Gala in programma alla Public Library di New York.
Gli Stati Uniti in questi anni hanno dimostrato un crescente interesse per il Prosecco e i cenni di ripresa per l’economia americana ha portato a cercare sempre più la qualità del prodotto, rivolgendosi alla produzione più antica e più nota, il Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita dal 2009. Non a caso l’articolo del New York Times è interamente dedicato ai prodotti “speciali”, da il Rive, tipologia che evidenzia le differenze fra le singole sottozone, al Sur Lie, dal Millesimato al Tranquillo. Il 2012 si apre, quindi, sotto i migliori auspici per i produttori del Prosecco Superiore che, a febbraio, saranno impegnati nell’evento Italian Wine Masters, dedicato proprio al mercato statunitense.

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Prosecco Growers Act to Guard Its Pedigree

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Hillside vines up to a century old in Valdobbiadene, Italy, are sources of prosecco superiore.


PROSECCO came down from the hills of Treviso after World War II, making a name for itself in the chic cafes of Venice, and later around the world, as a fresh, simple and appealing sparkling wine.

But lately it’s become a lot less simple. Two years ago, a new area for prosecco production was created in the flat valley extending into the Friuli region, and this has encouraged winemakers in the original zone to set their wines apart from the new ones.

In the new area, which encompasses nine provinces, most vineyards are large and their permitted yields high, and the vines can be mechanically harvested, all of which facilitates more-generic, lower-priced wine.

Here in the original zone, amid the steep conical hills between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the province Treviso, most of the tiny plots carved out of the twisted earth centuries ago continue to be worked by hand by independent farmers. This area, now called prosecco superiore and designated a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (D.O.C.G.), the highest level in Italian wine, is a complex mosaic of microclimates. Many winemakers are trying to showcase these distinctions, with noteworthy results.

While most prosecco is nonvintage, enabling producers to blend wine from the previous year, more and more superiore wineries are making a millesimato, in which all the grapes must be from one vintage. Moreover, a new system called rive indicates vintage-dated proseccos made entirely of grapes from a single town or hamlet.

“Every hillside — or rive, as we say in dialect — has a name, and each offers small particularities in pedoclimatic conditions,” said Franco Adami, winemaker and former president of the consortium of producers that is responsible for creating and administering the D.O.C.G. regulations. “The Rive Farra di Soligo is different from the Rive di San Martino, which is different from the Rive di Ogliano. This specialization of micro-zones, as exemplified by the rive system, was something I was committed to bringing to this region.”

Many of the winemakers are specializing even further by producing a wine from a single vineyard. An excellent example is the Brut Prosecco Particella 68, made by Sorelle Bronca from a tiny parcel in the Rive di Colbertaldo. It has a subtle yeasty aroma of roasted peaches and dried flower petals, with a long, refreshingly acidic finish.

Winemaking itself is changing in the region. Prosecco is generally made using Charmat (also known as the Italian method), whereby wine, following its primary fermentation in stainless steel, undergoes a second fermentation in large pressurized tanks called autoclaves to make it sparkling. This practice was developed in the late 1800s at the Scuola Enologica in Conegliano, Italy’s oldest wine school, and local producers have an almost paternal affection for it. But there is nothing that says prosecco must be made this way.

A growing number of winemakers are experimenting with classic method refermentation in the bottle. Usually, sugar is added along with the yeast to induce the second fermentation, but some, like Bellenda in the S.C. 1931, are making a bottle-fermented pas dosè (without added sugar), creating a wine that is drier, yeastier and more complex than most proseccos.

There is nothing that says a prosecco must be bubbly, either. Though uncommon, nonsparkling prosecco is an intriguing wine that retains the inimitable character of the glera grape, as the prosecco grape is now called, and the unique terroir it comes from. Adami, for example, makes a beautifully aromatic prosecco tranquillo in which the absence of bubbles seems to make the particularities of site and grape stand out even more.

Prosecco is made predominantly from glera, but the regulations permit up to 15 percent of other approved grape varieties to be used. Cuvée del Fondatore by Valdo, one of the oldest wineries in the region, is made with 10 percent chardonnay matured in small oak barrels for six months, blended with 90 percent glera. The wine is then slowly refermented in autoclaves for one year, resulting in an unusually sophisticated prosecco that seems more mature than it is.

While some winemakers are exploring new techniques, others are looking to the past. One promising example of this is sur lie, which is how prosecco was made before the advent of the autoclave. After the wine is bottled, a small amount of yeast is added and refermentation occurs. But, unlike the classic method, here the sediment remains in the bottle.
This makes for a slightly cloudy, fizzy wine that combines a distinctly rustic quality with straightforward elegance and restraint, like the Sottoriva Sur Lie of Malibrán, which has the aroma of rising bread dough and a lean, almost metallic attack with prickly bubbles, followed by tart crabapple and a bone-dry finish.

Another taste of the past comes from Paolo Bisol of Ruggeri winery. “I was fascinated by the old vines — 80, 90, 100 years old or more — scattered throughout Valdobbiadene with their thick contorted trunks and roots that go way, way down into the earth,” said Mr. Bisol. “They give a prosecco that is more robust, more profound and a bit more mineral than a regular one.”

Indeed, Ruggeri’s Vecchie Viti prosecco made from ancient glera, verdiso, bianchetta and perera vines is an extraordinarily subtle though lively, elegant and unique wine, of which less than 5,000 bottles are made annually.

While the existence of two prosecco appellations is bound to create some confusion, the much stricter D.O.C.G. regulations will limit yields and ensure that the grapes actually come from the hilly area, while the need to distinguish prosecco superiore from the regular one will encourage producers to excel.

Still, results remain to be seen.

“We can make regulations,” said Franco Adami, the former president of the producers’ consortium, “but we can’t regulate the market. People must be able to taste the difference. The qualitative value of these changes is up to consumers to decide.”

Taste for Yourself

Here are new and noteworthy proseccos from D.O.C.G. producers available in the United States.

ADAMI Valdobbiadene Prosecco Tranquillo Giardino; imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct and Martin Scott; $16.

A great example of the little-known still version of prosecco. Aromatic and medium-bodied with tropical fruit flavors.

MALIBRÁN Valdobbiadene Frizzante Sottoriva 2009; the Admiralty Beverage Company and George Wines; $18.

Bottle-fermented in the traditional sur lie manner. A bit cloudy with an almost prickly fizziness and crisp sour-bitter flavors. Rustic yet elegant.

PERLAGE Valdobbiadene Spumante Extra-Dry Rive di Ogliano Col di Manza 2010; Chatrand Imports; $18.

From one of the new rive designations; some residual sugar is balanced by mouth-puckering green apple and nice mineral finish. Biodynamic.

RUGGERI Valdobbiadene Spumante Brut Vecchie Viti 2010; Villa Italia; $39.

It’s 90 percent glera, with verdiso, bianchetta and perera grapes from 80- to 100-year-old vines.

SORELLE BRONCA Valdobbiadene Spumante Brut Particella 68; Polaner Selections and Oliver McCrum Wines; $20.

From a parcel in the Rive di Colbertaldo, using no added sugar and minimal sulfur.

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articolo collegato: Il Prosecco Sur Lie Sottoriva Malibran conquista gli States

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