The wine world is, for want of a better term, a bubble. It is important to remind ourselves of this occasionally. Within this bubble, Prosecco DOC has quite a serious reputation problem. It’s mass-produced, over sweet and induces headaches faster than you can say pass-the-paracetamol. Step out of the bubble into the real world and although Prosecco’s popularity may be wavering, it is still enormously popular. 36% of the entire world’s Prosecco is guzzled down by the UK. In fact, according to a study carried out by Mionetto, as a nation, you (I’m not included in this) drink an estimated 8.2 million litres of Prosecco weekly. That’s enough Prosecco to fill just over three Olympic sized swimming pools. Tell me why in the comments.
Yes, I’m guilty of Prosecco bashing. I’d rather drink English sparkling wine or champagne any day of the week. When I visited Verona last year, at each meal, I was served a glass of ‘house Prosecco’ with my starter. Very nice of them I thought, how refreshing. It wasn’t anything like what I was used to drinking at home (when forced upon me) and that’s because of the age old rumour that the Italian’s keep all the good wines to themselves, as do the French and the Germans and everyone else. I wondered where this wine came from, why it was so inexplicably refreshing and if I could fit in a second glass before moving onto what I was in Italy for, Amarone. I haven’t had the chance to return to Italy yet because you know, pandemic, but when I do I will be making an out of breath bee line for the steep hills of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.
Lockdown has been terrible in many ways, but the silver lining to the clouds of despondency have been the online connections. Wine tastings over Zoom have made us all consider why we ever bothered leaving the house for a wine tasting in the first place. One such tasting, hosted by Sarah Abbott MW, has truly stood out from the rest.
Sarah took us on a journey through the picturesque hills of Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, tasting Prosecco Superiore as we went, at 11am, from our living rooms.
If you’re wondering what makes a Prosecco a ‘Superiore’, it’s a few things:
- In CV (Conegliano Valdobbiadene) everything is in perfect harmony for the growing of the Glera grape (CV DOCG wines need a minimum of 85% Glera.) Situated between the sea and the foothills of the Alps, creates a mild, temperate climate. There is also the seriously steep slopes to help with drainage, it couldn’t be anymore perfect.
- Special soil. Where there’s good wine, there is exceptional soil. In CV, there are a handful of different types of soils that contribute to the Superiore final product.
3. The toil of it all. Due to the dizzy angles on the slopes across CV, harvest is done by hand. For every hectare of vineyard in the hills about 600 hours work is necessary each year, as opposed to an average of 150 on the plain.
Borgo Antico Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. Millesimato Brut Borgo Antico is a family run vineyard, and fun fact time, they were the first family to stop using Glyphosate. Business has been run by Leonardo Marchesin since 1995, who is somewhat following in his father’s footsteps. they own 15 acres of land, producing 70,000 bottles of wine per year (not all Prosecco.) This wine shows the proper balance of what excellent terroir can product. There is a very natural unforced freshness. It’s SO refreshing. Full of melon notes, like being sat in Italy in the sunshine.
‘Le Tose’ Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G This is the one with the modern, fairly funky label. The family has 20 hectares. ‘Le Tose’ means ‘girls in their teens’ in Veneto dialect and Sarah Abbott described this Prosecco fairly aptly and with perfect enthusiasm as ‘a perky Prosecco’. The Prosecco DOCG Le Tose was created to commemorate the three women of the family, Luigia, Giovanna and Maria Luisa to celebrate their commitment to this historic vineyard. It’s a complex wine, lots of freshness not only in the form of tropical fruits but some herbs too. Very drinkable but would complement a lot of dishes.
Bianca Vigna Conegliano Valdobbiadene D.O.C.G. Brut Prosecco Superiore Millesimato “This is who I want to be when I grow up,” says Sarah Abbott MW of the glorious Elena, who currently runs this winery. It’s a family affair, with Elena’s brother Enrico involved too. Enrico is a very highly regarded wine making consultant in Italy. This wine is imported by Armit wines and it has been described as the Krug of Prosecco, an exceptionally classy wine.
Masottina Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G My favourite thing about this wine, after the taste, is the tasting notes. It says, “Appeals to genuine people with refined charming personalities.” I must be both genuine and charming because this wine definitely appeals to me. It’s very fresh and fragrant. One of my favourite smells in the entire world is orange blossom and there’s some of that in this.
Colesel Cartizze Brut D.O.C.G This wine is still from Valdobbiadene, but it is from the Cru of Cartizze. This area is 107ha on the extra steep hills of the area. The steepness contributes to the ripening, which I’m sure you can figure out with a little bit of logic. The grapes end up being riper than other areas, but with lower yields than most. I adore the design of this bottle, the black against the bright orange really does it for me. Their other wines are similarly designed, with bright contrasting designs. The embossing is also pretty powerful and for me, quite masculine. We’re so used to Prosecco being aimed at women, are we not? Only the other day in the supermarket I was in the wine aisle, just having a browse to see what’s ‘in vogue’ and an assistant said ‘surely for you, it’s got to be the Prosecco’. Fortunately, masks hide a lot of expressions. This wine makes me think of a world where restaurant wine lists are thus; English Sparkling, Champagne, Cartizze Brut, Prosecco, Cava… how long do you think it will take?
The next wines included Nani Rizzi Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Sparkling Wine Extra Dry D.O.C.G. and then a wine you can try for yourself from Waitrose, with the recognisable yellow label, Valdo Oro Puro Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Sparkling Wine Extra Dry D.O.C.G. it’s only £8.99. I believe that no matter what you opinion on Prosecco, you will enjoy this wine, and you’ll get some change back from a tenner.
I may have started by bashing Prosecco but here I am, after quite the journey, a huge fan. I believe that two thirds of it is down to the wines but the remaining large third is down to Sarah’s beautiful delivery. In a way, it was quite an intimate tasting. We all contributed our thoughts throughout, discussed Italian food pairings, dreamed of days where we could visit again. I finished the tasting quite content and I almost felt like I’d been away for a short while…I hope it’s not too long before I can make the trip to this beautiful parcel of Italy.
Thanks again to Sarah Abbott MW and Madeleine Waters for this tasting.