Imagine sipping a golden glass of delicate yet persistent bubbles with a fine mousse like feel caressing your palate. Soft flavors of orchard fruits, citrus and buttery brioche wrapped in rich, round acidity dance across your tongue, lingering as they slide down your throat. You smile as your senses delight in the smell, taste and feel of this lovely glass of sparkling wine. It must be a high quality Champagne to have such texture and richness in such a balanced manner. You are surprised to find out it is not Champagne, it is a beautifully crafted glass of Prosecco Superiore DOCG. I recently attended the TexSom wine conference, one of the best wine conferences in the world. The attendees are serious wine people, sommeliers, distributors, importers, wine makers, wine writers; people who know wine. I asked a few people if they liked Prosecco. The answer was always yes, which is not surprising because Americans love Prosecco. However, their love of Prosecco was as inexpensive bubbles to take to a party or mix with orange juice to make mimosas. Unfortunately my small sample is indicative of many Americans’ understanding of Prosecco; most have not enjoyed the delicious and high quality Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
What makes Prosecco Superiore DOCG different from the Prosecco DOC available at your local super market? As the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior explains, “ it is a wine you will be able to recognize ‘blind’ once you have tasted it: a fine, fresh, elegant ambassador for a unique region of steep hills covered in a dense coverlet of vineyards.” In 2009, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore was awarded the DOCG status and since that time they have been on a campaign to educate consumers about what separates them from DOC Proseccos.
Characteristics of the DOCG Production Area:
- The area lies in Veneto, 50 km from Venice, in the hills of the Province of Treviso between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.
- Conegliano is the location of Italy’s first Oenological school, Italy’s first Research Institute for Viticulture, and is the heart of the local wine culture. The soil is characterized as clayey with alluvial and morainic origin, producing wines that are richly structured with fruity aromas.
- Valdobbiadene is the heart of the actual production zone and contains the most hillside vineyards. The soils is very ancient in origin, composed of moraines, sandstone and clay, producing wines of great finesse with rich fruity and floral aromas.
- The location of this area lies equidistance from the Dolomites and the Adriatic Sea, offering a unique climate that is not excessively cold in the winter or excessively warm in the summer. It also receives substantial rain fall that benefits the Glera grape.
- The terrain is difficult to cultivate. Vineyards are perched high on hills so steep it is difficult to stand. The vine-growers have embraced these conditions, creating a landscape so beautiful they have applied to become an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The production zone includes fifteen communes stretching over 20,000 hectares. Vines are grown on the sunniest part of the hills, between 50 and 500 meters above sea level.
- “Throughout its extraordinary history, the Conegliano Valdobbiadene zone has made Prosecco into an extraordinary success story, creating over the course of time a modern, informal and vivacious Italian-Style drink that is appreciated and enjoyed all over the world.”
In keeping with the DOCG guidelines, Prosecco Superiore must contain at least 85% of the local grape variety Glera. The Glera grape is green skinned grape that ripens late in the season. It is fairly high in acidity and neutral on the palate. It offers aromas of white peaches, white flowers and orchard fruits. Other blending grapes in Prosecco Superiore include: Verdiso, Perera, Bianchetta, Pinot and Chardonnay.
The Distinctive Production Method of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG:
- Developed by Antonio Carpenè of the School of Oenology as a modification of the Italian method
- Pressing: machines gently apply pressure to extract only the free run juice
- Settling: the cloudy must is chilled in stainless steel tanks for 10-12 hours
- Vinification: yeast is added to the must to start the fermentation process, lasts 15-20 days in stainless steel tanks
- Prise de mousse: When the base wine becomes clear the wines are blended together to the winemaker’s specifications. Then using the Italian Method the wines are made sparkling by introducing it into large pressurized vats while adding sugar and yeast, allowing the preservation of the varietal’s aromas, producing a fruity and floral wine. During this process the yeast feed on the sugar to produce CO₂, creating the silky bubbles characteristic of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
- After 30-40 days the wine is bottled and released to market.
Now let’s taste some wine! I was introduced to Stefano Marangon with Bisol Vitivinicoltori through Mike and Sue Veseth. They recently traveled to Veneto where Mike presented at the Scoula Enologica di Congeliano. (In case you are unaware, Mike is the Wine Economist, a great blog to follow, and author of several books, including his most recent Money, Taste and Wine, It’s Complicated.) I was blessed to receive the following outstanding bottles of Prosecco Superiore DOCG from Stefano.
Bisol Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze D.O.C.G. Spumante Dry 2013: This wine was crafted of 100% Glera. It poured a soft golden yellow with delicate and fine effervescence into the glass, and opened with inviting aromas of orchard fruit, stone fruit, jasmine and marzipan. On the palate this wine delivered pleasing flavors of Honeycrisp apples, pears, white peaches, and jasmine. It offered a restrained sweetness that was well-balanced with the acidity. It was creamy and soft on the palate with a rich mouth-feel and a delicate finish. It contained 23 grams/liter of sugar and 11.5% alcohol. A truly magnificent sparkling wine!
A quick note about Cartizze from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superior: Superiore di Cartizze is the cru of the denomination and comprises a small area of 107 hectares of vines in the steepest hills of San Pietro di Barbozza, Santo Stefano and Saccol, in the commune of Valdobbiadene. It is the result of the perfect combination between a mild microclimate and very varied terrain, including moraines, sandstones and clays, which allow for rapid drainage of rainfall and, at the same time, a constant water supply, thus permitting the vines to develop in a well-balanced manner. “Cartizze” is a sumptuous sparkling wine.
Bisol “Crede” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut 2014: This wine poured a soft gold with a beautiful perlage of persistent bubbles into the glass and opened with an inviting bouquet of orchard fruit, soft floral notes and a nice minerality. On the palate it delivered fresh flavors of apples, pears, citrus zest, buttered brioche and mineral notes wrapped in a lush mouth-feel with round acidity and a lingering dry finish. It felt like a delicate mousse with persistent bubbles in a beautifully structured, harmonious symphony of flavors and texture. This wine was crafted of 85% Glera, 10% Pinot Bianco and 5% Verdiso and contained 11.5% alcohol. I simply adored it!
These gorgeous Prosecco Superiore DOCGs could not be enjoyed alone so we invited some friends over for dinner. We began our dinner pairing the Cartizze with three types of spicy sushi: Lava Rolls, Spicy Crunchy Yummi Rolls and Spicy Tuna Rolls. The creamy texture and delicate sweetness of the Cartizze was a perfect pairing with the “kick” of each of the sushi rolls. A great starter!
For dinner we enjoyed the Crede with Seafood Linguine. The dinner was decadent! The linguine was topped with sautéed shrimp, scallops and lobster in a cream sauce with fresh parmesan cheese. The dinner was rich and paired seamlessly with the dry, acidic Crede. The mousse like mouth-feel of the wine was a perfect accompaniment to the rich and creamy dish!
Finally, after dinner we circled back to the Cartizze for a final glass along with shortcake (tasted like a sweet, dry biscuit) topped with fresh strawberries and fresh whipped cream. Another winner! The Cartizze was outstanding with the spicy sushi and the dry, sweet strawberry shortcake.
Bisol has been producing wine in the Valdobbiadene for five centuries. Bisol’s premier vineyard location and commitment to excellence in the entire production process drives in international popularity. Bisol’s “faith in the quality of the territory is our main pride and joy, something that gives us that little bit extra. Gianluca Bisol, managing director of the company, sums it up effectively: ‘We work tirelessly with passion so that Conegliano will gain the same prestige as Reims, Valdobbiadene the same charm as Epernay and Prosecco the same notoriety as Champagne.’” These two Prosecco Superiore DOCGs speak volumes for the high quality wines produced by Bisol under the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
I hope this article has helped you to understand that all Proseccos are not created equal. Keep enjoying Prosecco DOC but add to your enjoyment the high quality wines Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Seek them out online, ask your favorite local wine retailers and restaurants for these wines, and begin by asking for Bisol! The terroir, dedication and craftsmanship that go into producing these beautiful Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG please your senses and leave you wanting more as soon as they are gone. Because in my opinion you have never had Prosecco until you have enjoyed Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG!
My Song Selection: These two beautiful Prosecco Superiore DOCGs from Bisol were outstanding. They reminded me a crisp, elegant symphony or opera on my palate. They were pleasing on every level and were perfect with our dinner. These wines would make a great edition to any party or social gathering but do not reserve them just for special occasions. Any occasion is special with Bisol Cru! The best way to explain what these wines tasted like is to listen to “Molly on the Shore” by Percy Grainger, performed by the North Texas Wind Symphony.
Get your own bottles of Bisol Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze D.O.C.G. Spumante Dry 2013 and Bisol “Crede” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut 2014 and let me know what song you pair with them. Cheers!