Prosecco is the perfect drink for hot summer days, girls night out, festive celebrations, Sunday brunch or to sip on the beach. Americans have been drinking Prosecco for years and sales are at an all time high, and why not, it is light, refreshing, festive and wallet friendly.
As American appetite for Prosecco rises, it is time to understand this category in greater depth. Not all Proseccos are created equally. There is a vast difference between Prosecco DOC and Prosecco DOCG. Prosecco Superiore DOCG needs to be differentiated, understood and appreciated.
Officially known as Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, is a region located in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. Prosecco DOCG is the area between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene between Venice and the Dolomites. With 15 communes, the terroir is what makes Prosecco DOCG significantly superior in quality and style. The wines are of the highest quality and in August of 2009, it was awarded the DOCG appellation designation, placing it amongst Italy’s greatest wines. The region is also on its way to becoming a UNESCO world heritage site.
Visiting Conegliano Valdobbiadene
Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Conegliano Valdobbiadene with several other journalist. Driving through the narrow, windy roads between Conegliano in the east and Valdobbiadene to the west was a visual dream. The scenic route is known as The Strada del Prosecco(the Prosecco Route) and is lined with charming villages, churches, castles and vineyards. It was an opportunity to fully grasp the history, culture and winemaking of the region.
The region is untapped, undiscovered, and insanely steep. I could not grasp the extent of the steepness visually. It was only when I stepped into the vineyards and had to grab and hold onto every pole in site, so as to not slide down the mountain, did I then begin to appreciate the steepness and uniqueness of this special region. I now have a deep appreciation for the manual work it takes to hand harvest these incredible elevated and vertically sloped vineyards.
The drive along the Prosecco Route also uncovered a range of terrain, soils and microclimates of the Prosecco DOCG region. The challenging landscapes of the region creates wines with distinct personality.
Reasons Prosecco DOCG is Superior
The Prosecco produced in Conegliano Valdobbiadene is extremely special because of its history and terroir. The elevation, the mild climate, and the soils all make for ideal conditions to make superior Prosecco.
Wines have been grown in the region since ancient times, but the first references to Prosecco date back to 1772 where academic Francesco Maria Malvoti wrote about the quality of local wine making. Back in the day, many styles of wines were produced in the region, but through local expertise and dedication, Prosecco became the only style of wine produced in Conegliano Valdobbiadene . The success of Prosecco began in 1876 with the founding of Italy’s first Oenology School. The school still resides in Conegliano.
The elevation of the land is extremely steep and the cultivation of the vines require hand harvesting. The elevation of the vines make this area dangerously challenging to harvest. Most of the wines are made by small producers in an artisanal style.
The area is relatively small in size representing about 6500 hectares of vines with an even smaller 107 hectares in Cartizze(the “Grand Cru” of the DOCG). The wines must be made from 85% Glera grapes and up to 15% can be made up of Verdiso, Bianchetta, Perera, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay. The wine is made in the Italian method, whereby the wine is fermented in temperature controlled steel tanks, also known as the Charmat Method. This process delivers wines that are fresh, floral and light. The wines are bottled with strict guidelines and have to be tasted and inspected by the Consorzio before release.
Tiers of Prosecco DOCG
- Prosecco DOCG represents the 15 communes located in between the two towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene
- Prosecco DOCG Rive represents 43 specific delineated areas that have distinctive soil, exposure, and microclimates. Rive in the local language means slopes of the steep hills. These wines have low yields, are hand picked and vintage dated.
- Prosecco DOCG Superiore di Cartizze is the highest quality of wines coming from the region. It is the “Grand Cru” of all Proseccos with only 107 hectares of the steepest slopes on the hills of San Pietro di Barbozza, Santo Stefano, and Saccol.
Styles of Prosecco DOCG
Prosecco DOCG wines are categorized by their bubbles: Spumante which is sparkling, Frizzante which is effervescent with light bubbles and Tranquillo which is their still white wine. Next be sure to look for sugar levels on the label. The wines are labeled Brut(12 grams RS), Extra Dry(12-17 grams RS) and Dry(17+ grams RS).
Three Incredibly Elegant Proseccos to Try Now
Prior Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
The Roman numeral on the capsule and the name Prior bear testament to the fact that Giuliano Bortolomiol had the intuition to create a brut Prosecco at a time when it was only ever an extra dry. Prior symbolises Giuliano’s pioneering spirit and his belief in Prosecco di Valdobbiadene (now Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg).
This gorgeous sparkler is clean, fresh and bright. There are distinct notes of green apple, lemon and citrus, with layers of fresh floral notes. The fresh crisp notes make it ideal for seafood and light salads.
San Fermo Bellenda Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut
This Prosecco expresses the renowned qualities classic to the glacier-derived morainic hills where these grapes are grown. It appears luminous and sparkling, with a dense, continuous bead of bubbles. The bouquet is delicate and fragrant, the palate savoury with a fine vein of minerality, and the finish concludes with a tasty tang of crisp walnut husk.
La Farra Rive di Farra di Soligo Millesimato Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry
The wine is produced exclusively from grapes from the “Rive dei Nardi” vineyard, situated in the upper hills of Farra di Soligo in the hamlet of Collagù. The soil is a mixture of clay and limestone (220-300 m above sea level).
This Prosecco has a bright straw yellow hue. On the nose, it is fruity, with hints of apples and apricot. It’s complexity is derived from its maturation on the lees and its subsequent evolution. The flavor is clean, tangy and well-balanced. It displays a marked sensation of freshness thanks to its low sugar content
The wines of Prosecco DOCG are fresh, vibrant, aromatic and elegant. The Proseccos from Conegliano Valdobbiadene are made with great attention and care. These are artisanal wines made with the heart and soul of small winemakers, producing wines in extreme conditions. So don’t just drink any old Prosecco. Elevate your Prosecco game and be sure to ask your local wine store or restaurant for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
Join the Twitter Conversation
Please join in on our live twitter chat using the hashtag #ItalianFWT on Saturday, July 6th 2019 at 11:00 am Eastern Time.
Be sure to see what my fellow Italian Wine Lovers are sharing for the Prosecco DOCG Party.
- Wendy, of A Day in the Life on the Farm, says Summertime and the Living is Easy with Prosecco DOCG in My Glass.
- Jill, of L’Occasion, asks Looking for Freshness? Check out Prosecco DOCG.
- Rupal, the Syrah Queen, writes Prosecco Elevated – Sipping Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
- Jane, of Always Ravenous, pours Prosecco Superiore Paired with Italian Small Bites.
- Deanna, of Asian Test Kitchen, is Pairing Cartizze Prosecco DOCG Beyond Oysters.
- David, for Cooking Chat, says Prosecco Superiore: The Special Italian Sparkling Lives Up To Its Name.
- Liz, of What’s in That Bottle, is Discovering the Delights of Prosecco Superiore.
- Jeff, of FoodWineClick!, goes Beyond Apertif, Enjoy Prosecco Superiore at the Dinner Table.
- Martin, of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog, encourages Getting to Know Prosecco Superiore.
- Pinny, of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings, is Sipping the Day Away with Prosecco DOCG.
- Gwendolyn, of Wine Predator, shares 3 Prosecco DOCG and Calamari with Lemon Caper Sauce.
- Linda, of My Full Wine Glass, offers Take-aways from a week of glorious Prosecco DOCG.
- Jennifer, of Vino Travels, declares Prosecco DOCG is more than just Prosecco.
- Susannah, of Avvinare, is Taking A Closer Look At Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
- Kevin, of Snarky Wine, declares Vintage Prosecco DOCG: Quality Matters.
- Cindy, of Grape Experiences, posts What a Girl Wants: Gourmet Popcorn and Prosecco DOC and DOCG.
- Li, of The Wining Hour, asks you to Step Up Your Game with Prosecco Superiore.
- Camilla, of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, is Climbing the Prosecco Hierarchy: To Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze with Steamed Clams, Smoked Scallops, and Capellini.