Tasting Treviso

Prosecco Wine

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Prosecco Wine


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.

article from www.nytimes.com


Prosecco Wine - The Wineries

Production Zone
The hilly territory in the Province of Treviso belongs to the municipalities of Conegliano, San Vendemiano, Colle Umberto, Vittorio Veneto, Tarzo, Cison di Valmarino, Follina, Miano, Valdobbiadene, Vidor, Farra di Soligo, Pieve di Soligo, San Pietro di Feletto, Refrontolo and Susegana. The vineyards, considered suitable to produce Prosecco wine are those situated on hills; whereas the vineyards on valley floors, in the northern area and on the low plain, are excluded.

Organoleptic characteristics:
This is a quite intense straw-coloured wine, its bouquet is vinous, typical, light, fruity especially as for sweet types, its taste is bitterish as well as palatable, the dry type of prosecco is not a full-bodied wine, the sweet prosecco wines have a fruity taste (their sugary content should not be higher than 6%).

If grapes come from the area called Cartizze, in the village San Pietro di Barbozza, and if the wine has a minimum alcoholic content of 11%, it goes under the name of "Superiore di Cartizze".

Combinations with food:
This wine can be well combined with aperitifs, delicate starters of fish, stewed and roasted lake and sea fish, stewed cuttlefish with vegetables, "polpo affogato" (Italian recipe for a dish with octopus cooked with sauce).

Varieties: sparkling Prosecco, spumante sparkling Prosecco, still Prosecco

The New Rules on Prosecco DOCG:
the DOCG Designation Remains Guaranteed for the Historic Area

During the last years, Prosecco, was much faked. This is well understandable, since it is a very successful product and consumers appreciate it more and more. These fakements, difficult to check, created confusion among producers and consumers both in Italy and in the rest of the world, and damaged one of the most appreciated typical Italian products. For this reason, after a long period of works, on July 17th 2009 the Ministery approved new regulations on Prosecco wine, which provide more checks and protections: Prosecco has thus become the wine of a defined area, it is not just the wine obtained from a mere type of wine.
Thanks to this change, two different quality designations have been created: the Docg for Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, and the basic Doc designation that replaces the present Igt designations.


The Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco and the wines from the area near Asolo hills, forty years after being recognized as DOC wine under the DOC designation (Controlled Designation of Origin, 1969), are counted among the highest quality wines of the Italian classification of DOCG wines, under the DOCG designation (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin) .
The old designation remains unchanged, but now this product is more protected than it was before.
The limited area guarantees the excellence of these wines. All DOCG wines are marked with the label "Conegliano-Valdobbiadene" and followed by "Prosecco Superiore", if they are sparkling wines.
The sparkling wines can be marked only with the label "Conegliano-Valdobbiadene" or "Conegliano" or "Valdobbiadene".
Production zone. they are produced in the historic area, consisting of 15 municipalities on the hills, between the two "production centres", that is Conegliano and Valdobbiadene; the size of this area represents well the preciosity of these wines.
The grapes. Traditionally, the wine is produced with grapes of Glera vines (minimum 85%) and grapes called Verdiso, Bianchetta, Perera, Glera (maximum 15%), all these varieties have been cultivated on the hills around Conegliano and Valdobbiadene for centuries. As for sparkling wines, the grapes such as Pinot and Chardonnay can be used, too.
Production. The production quantity of Docg wines is around 135 qls/ha
Latest news.
After the introduction of the designation “Rive”, as for sparkling wines, even the possibility to mark the label with the name of the municipality or the village where the grapes come from, has been provided by the new regulations.
The word "Rive", in the local dialect, indicates the vineyards on steep slopes and its aim is to highlight the characteristics and the many differences that represent the various places with this designation. With regard to "Rive", its production is reduced to a quantity of 130 qls/ha, in this case the grape harvest must be manual and the label must indicate the harvest year.
The “Cartizze” Wine. On the highest classification level of high quality wines there's the sparkling wine from the historic limited area of the wine "Superiore di Cartizze", where the production quantity is 120 qls/ha.


In order to protect Prosecco and to check the production quality, the new basic designation of Prosecco has been set up. Prosecco wine is indicated with the old name of "Glera", for juridical reasons. The recognition of “Prosecco” as Designation of Origin, according to the type of wine, and as intellectual property, according to the Eurpean Union rules on product quality, was possible thanks to two reasons: on the one hand because of the productive tradition in the province of Treviso, where 90% of the Prosecco wine production is concentrated and where there are the hills with DOCG designation, on the other hand because of the small town named Prosecco, situated near Trieste city and that once was linked to the origin of the Prosecco vine.
The production area. The production area of DOC wines consists of 9 provinces of Veneto and Friuli regions, where the cultivation of prosecco vine is permitted. This new DOC designation includes and replaces the still existing IGT designations (Prosecco Colli Trevigiani, Prosecco Marca trevigiana, Prosecco del Veneto, Prosecco Alto Livenza, Prosecco delle Venezie) inside one only area. The old IGT designations were sold out up to the end of 2010.
This new DOC designation provides the possibility of defining the place of origin of grapes, as for the provinces of Treviso and Trieste.
The Characteristics of the New DOC Designation
- The production qualtity is 180 qls/ha.
- The grapes: the new DOC wines are produced with Glera vines (minimum: 85%) and vines of Pinot and Chardonnay (maximum: 15%).
- The area where this wine can be bottled is that of the 9 provinces belonging to DOC designation, and it is extended to the producers outside this area who prove to have bottled this wine at least for 5 years.
- The varieties: the varieties belonging to the new DOC designation are the still Prosecco, the sparkling Prosecco, and the Spumante sparkling Prosecco.
- Checks: the wines with the new designation will be checked, according to the rules on DOC, among which the control of the production process from the vineyards to the wineries, and the chemical and organoleptic analisys, before the bottled wine is put on the market.
The wines with the indication of some vines mixed together (Prosecco/Chardonnay, and so on) or rosé wines cannot be produced and sold any more.
The Prosecco DOC can be put on the market only if it is contained in glass bottles, not in barrels or other alternative containers.
For any further information: Consortium for the Protection of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG (Consorzio Per la Tutela del Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore)

Translation by Dr. Chiara Botteon - Translator & Tour Guide

traduzione offerta dalla dott.ssa Chiara Botteon
Traduttore & Accompagnatore Turistico

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