Cartizze Vineyards (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
In my previous post on Prosecco, I covered the basics of this wine. I would now like to write about some of the special wines emerging from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene district, which has recently been awarded DOCG status.
For years now, many of the top estates in this area have been producing a wine from the Cartizze hill, located just outside the town of Valdobbiadene. This hill, encompassing 107 hectares (264 acres), is recognized as arguably the finest vineyard area for the production of Prosecco – in other words, this is the Grand Cru of Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene. Wines made from here generally offer more complex aromatics (such as chamomile and elder flowers), are richer on the palate and unlike the basic bottlings of Prosecco, can age for 2-3 years. Curiously, most bottlings carry the Dry designation (which is actually medium sweet), although there are a few examples of Cartizze Brut. Among the best examples of Cartizze are the bottlings from Adami, Bisol, Bortolomiol, Mionetto and Villa Sandi. Prices are generally in the $25-$35 range on American retail shelves.
There are other single vineyard wines; one of my favorites is the “Particella 68” produced by Sorelle Branca. The number 68 refers to the number of the parcel of this vineyard on the local map. This site is dominated by granitic soils, which adds minerality and limits yields. This wine offers more beautiful aromas of Bosc pear and musk oil and is very dry and refreshing with precise acidity.
One of the new terms that will be used for Prosecco is the word rive (singular riva), which refers to a single vineyard, commune or village of origin that has been singled out for its quality. Bottlings of rive must be of the full sparking (spumante) version and must be vintage-dated.
Organic viticulture is becoming an important movement for growers in this area and is clearly a reason for the high quality of some of the best bottlings of Prosecco. The Treviso Brut from Mionetto is made from organically farmed vineyards (labeled as biologica agricoltura on Italian labels); this means that no synthetic chemicals or fertilizers were used in the vineyard. Mionetto has also taken an extra step in presenting a natural product, as recycled materials were used for the label and the shipper carton. As for the wine itself, the aromas feature notes of green apples and papaya; there is good weight on the palate and a lengthy, elegant feel on the finish with lively acidity. This is a first-rate Prosecco!
Perlage Winery is a leader in natural winemaking; it was certified organic in 1985. One of their bottlings, Animae, is made with no added sulfites, which is believed to be not only the lone Prosecco of this type, but perhaps the only sparkling wine in the world made in this manner. Clearly, the grapes used for the production of this wine must be of extremely high quality and the work in the cellar must be precise. The must stays in contact with a specially cultivated yeast from October to February before the secondary fermentation. The wine, a Brut, offers intriguing aromas of caramel, brown sugar and herbal tea, a departure from the normal white peach fruitiness of most examples of Prosecco. The finish is quite dry and the wine has admirable structure; this is clearly a showcase example of what Prosecco can be.
So the new DOCG classification for Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene comes at a time when more and more producers in this area are looking to expand the definition of Prosecco from a simple sparkler to a wine of complexity, elegance and finesse – characteristics of great wines from around the world.