Lovely white Prosecco is becoming more and more popular as a refreshing, light, sparkling wine. It’s enjoyed for sipping, as an aperitif and as a mix in cocktails.
I recently attended a guided tasting of the wines from Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, the historic birthplace of Prosecco. The setting was Cooper’s Hall in Portland, Oregon. Our tasting was led by wine educator and writer Alan Tardi, the region’s leading expert and U.S. ambassador.
Tardi led us through the history of Prosecco, and in doing, gave us a little tour of the scenic vineyards and hillside towns via a slide show. It was a warm day in Portland and sipping light, bubbly, fruity Prosecco proved an ideal afternoon diversion.
Prosecco Superiore DOCG
Prosecco Superiore DOCG (the wine-growing region) covers the hills of 15 communes (township or municipality) that lie between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, Italy. It’s not far from Venice. The area is sheltered by the Alps, ensuring an ideal wine-growing climate. The history of wine growing in this region goes back to ancient times. A memorial stone in the area recalls the words of a Roman centurion, mentioning the vendemmiales, celebrations of the grape harvest.
Originally the grapes were called Prosecco grapes and their growing was not confined to the area between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Increasingly Prosecco was being made outside of that region (and outside of Italy), cheapening the wine. Italian vineyard owners were understandably worried.
In 2009, the Italian government determined that in order for a wine to be labeled Prosecco, it would have to be produced in a designated region. You can’t name a grape with the same name as the region so the name of the grape was changed from Prosecco to Glera. For a Prosecco to be authentic, it must have at least 80% Glera grapes and it must be from that designated wine growing area in Italy. The wines we tasted were 100% Glera.
Prosecco wine produced from Glera grapes is almost always either frizzante (fizzy) or spumante (fully sparkling). A few still wines are also made from Glera grapes.
Why People Love Prosecco
It’s light and refreshing. Prosecco has a low alcohol content, usually 11-12%.
- Prosecco is lightly fruity. You’ll often sense flavors of apple, apricot and peach. I enjoyed one refreshing variety at the tasting that had strong notes of green apple.
- It varies. We tasted dry Proseccos as well as extra dry and brut variations.
- Prosecco is reasonably priced. The secondary fermentation process takes place in large containers costing less than in-bottle secondary fermentation.
- It creates a casual vibe… think picnics, evenings on the patio.
Look for the DOCG on the Label
The best Prosecco is made near the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene and is labeled DOCG (denominazione di origine garantita). The excellent wines from Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG were the ones we tasted. Many of them are now available in the United States.
Travel the Prosecco Wine Road in Italy
As a travel writer, I became more and more intrigued with the beauty of the wine growing region we were learning about. So I was pleased to find out that there is an established Prosecco driving route (Strada del Prosecco e Vini dei Colli Conegliano Valdobbiadene) for visitors to Italy.
This 50 km-route (about 30 miles) takes you through Conegliano where you’ll see the School of Winemaking as well as ancient churches and picturesque village churches. The historic route of the Prosecco Wine Road ends in Valdobbiadene, the production capital of the DOCG and the headquarters of many of the sparkling wine companies where visitors can sample some of this refreshing elixir of the grape. – Elizabeth Rose, RFT Contributor