Inspiration from two of the country’s most famous wine regions – Roero and Prosecco
“Another highly noted new site is Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene in northeastern Italy, part of the vine growing landscape and Prosecco wine production area. A series of hills with small plots of vines on the edge of narrow terraces (ciglioni), some forests, villages and farmland, the rugged terrain has been cultivated for centuries. Since the 17th century, the use of ciglioni has created a breathtaking checkerboard landscape.”
“Be honest. When you think of Prosecco, what do you think of? An affordable replacement for Champagne? A festive beverage to be sipped during your Italian vacations? A key ingredient in Aperol spritzes (themselves beverages best consumed in Italy), fun while you’re there, but okay to leave behind? At least that’s what I thought until I visited the Prosecco region of Italy and tasted what may have been my first proper Prosecco. Garbara Cartizze has earned no small number of distinctions. It is fruity but quite structured, and it has some delightful little bubbles.
It’s also unlike much of what gets exported under the label of Prosecco. Some years ago, in a somewhat controversial move, the Italian government decided to allow makers of sparkling wine anywhere in the northeast of Italy call their product prosecco. Some of this is very nice sparkling wine. But Prosecco purists will tell you that it’s not Prosecco.”
“With 55 sites included in the list as of 2019, Italy has more designations than any other country in the world (see the complete list on the Italian Wikipedia here). Other sites include the archeological excavation at Pompei in Campania and the viticultural landscape of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato in Piedmont.
The hills of Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene were considered but not included in the list during last year’s meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Committee. They are now the eighth site to receive the designation in Italy’s Veneto region.”
“The newly inscribed site — officially listed as “Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene” — joins 54 other Italian locations on the UNESCO list which now contains 1,121 sites in all. In explaining the inclusion of the hills of Prosecco, UNESCO wrote, “Located in north-eastern Italy, the site includes part of the vinegrowing landscape of the Prosecco wine production area. The landscape is characterized by ‘hogback’ hills, ciglioni — small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces — forests, small villages and farmland. For centuries, this rugged terrain has been shaped and adapted by man. Since the 17th century, the use of ciglioni has created a particular chequerboard landscape consisting of rows of vines parallel and vertical to the slopes. In the 19th century, the bellussera technique of training the vines contributed to the aesthetic characteristics of the landscape.”
Italy’s best-known sparkling wine has risen to be the party fizz of choice, but producers are striving ever harder to unlock the terroir differences that can make the top-quality DOCG wines stand apart from the rest. Michaela Morris reports on the latest developments, and recommends 10 top examples
By Lisa Riley
By Robert Whitley
Champagne producers frequently lament that the bulk of sales to U.S. consumers comes around the holidays, between November and the end of December. Champagne should be consumed year-round, I am told. I agree completely — for those who can afford it.
The Prosecco gang has no such problem. The soft, fruity sparkling wine from northeast Italy is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. wine market precisely because wine lovers of all stripes can afford it. A decent Prosecco costs a fraction of the price you would pay for a decent nonvintage brut Champagne.
My local grocery has floor-stacked Prosecco at prices ranging from $10 to $15. No wonder Prosecco is flying off the shelf. Unfortunately, the low prices sometimes give the false impression that it is cheap and somehow lesser than. The Consorzio Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG hopes to change the perception with a campaign to educate U.S. restaurateurs and consumers about the notable qualities of Prosecco from this most important of all the Prosecco-producing regions.
by Tom Hyland
You may not realize it, but Italians love sparkling wine, especially Champagne. There are several famous houses in Champagne that have Italy as their largest (or second largest) export market. I’ve personally enjoyed so many great Champagnes in the Piedmont region, from famous and not so famous producers, and it’s also a popular item in the regions of Veneto and Tuscany.
Well there’s only so much Champagne to go around, and given the ingenuity of the Italians, they love to make as many types of wine as possible, so you’ll find sparking wine from just about every one of Italy’s 20 regions. Most of the finest are made in the classic method, as in Champagne (known as metodo classico in Italy), while there are some made in a less expensive and time consuming method known as Martinotti or Charmat, which still results in high quality bubblies, as with most examples of Prosecco.
What you need to know about the grapes, terroir, and winemaking techniques that create the area’s top-tier sparklers
written by GuildSomm
by Bryce Wiatrak
“Congratulations, you’ve been upgraded,” were the last words I wanted to hear when I walked up to the Economy Rent-A-Car kiosk at Venice’s Marco Polo Airport. I’d intentionally reserved a sedan, knowing a car any larger would trigger my sweat-inducing acrophobia as I attempted to scale the hills of Valdobbiadene, whose roads are already two sizes too small. But if I wanted an automatic transmission, the upgrade was non-negotiable. So off me and my hatchback went.
I had one focus that afternoon: Cartizze, the “grand cru” vineyard of Conegliano Valdobbiadene, whose Proseccos are revered above all others. Cartizze stands majestically against Valdobbiadene’s undular landscape, its vines cascading down from precipitous cliffs. It’s difficult not to be moved by the slope’s sublimity—or, in my case, to prophesize one’s imminent death.
In search of greater terroir expression, Prosecco’s finest wines are becoming increasingly dry. Richard Baudains explores the reasons why, and picks his top 10 to try.