There’s not just one Prosecco, there are many of them.
The name Prosecco also indicates one of the most popular tourist destinations for foreigners, picturesque trails among rolling hills, vineyards, historic residences and museums to discover how a wine, besides being good, can also tell a great story. Proseccos of excellence, which challenge even the most noble bubblies, are born from a respect for the land and nature that never requires much chemical intervention.
Produced in Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the northeast corner of Italy, it is a DOC (Designation of Controlled Origin) or DOCG (Designation of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) white wine for those of Montello and the Asolani Hills and for Prosecco of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. Its origins are uncertain.
According to one of the most reliable hypotheses, it could originate from “Prosecco”, a karstic municipality on the border with Slovenia. In this area the vine was called Glera. It then arrived in Veneto and took the name of Serprina. Another hypothesis supports a “reverse” dissemination, from the March of Treviso to Slovenia.
Prosecco wine has a straw yellow color. Its bouquet is distinguished by notes of green apple, pear and peach, with floral notes of wisteria, rose and acacia and a slightly acidic lemon and citron. The main characteristic is its hint of bread crust due to the yeasts, to which the fruity aromas of banana and pineapple are added in refermented proseccos.
How to choose
“Prosecco from the plains” and “Prosecco from the hills” is the first difference to take into consideration. The plains produce higher quantities and offer a wine that is more full-bodied, sugary, fat and savory, while the hills, with their lower level of production, produce wines that are more intensely acid and fresh. If we imagined a pyramid, at the top we would find Cartizze, the cru of Prosecco, and below Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, Asolo DOCG, Treviso DOC and at the base the vast area of Prosecco DOC. Cartizze hill is the heart of Valdobbiadene; a total of 107 hectares divided among 140 owners. They are lands that have belonged to the same families for generations, handed down as an inheritance, where the work is all still done manually. The slope, in parts quite steep, allows the vines to enjoy the full benefit of the sun’s rays and water that is not retained in the soil. Hot summer days are followed by cool nights with thermal excursions. Traditionally a wine is produced in a “Dry” version.
Differences between Valdobbiadene and Asolo
One of the two DOCG production areas is situated in the foothills between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, covering 15 municipalities and about 5,000 hectares of vineyards. The wine, produced in three types – spumante (sparkling), frizzante (semi-sparkling), and tranquillo (still) – can be enjoyed throughout a meal, but is particularly popular with steamed or raw fish appetizers, risottos, grilled white meat, vegetable or stewed vegetable side dishes, and, in the bubbly version, as an aperitif. The sensory analysis reveals a winy, light and fruity fragrance, particularly in sweet and pleasant types. The taste is pleasantly bitter, not very full-bodied in the Dry type. Compared to Valdobbiadene, Prosecco Asolo is more structured and saline due to the conformation of its terroir. A sensory analysis of the wine, made mainly from the Glera grape, finds a dry wine with characteristics of elegance, lightness and slenderness. Its bouquet has a fresh scent, with accents that are fruity, floral and slightly vegetal in the end. The taste is soft with a delicate body, with a well-harmonized acidity, all with a dry aftertaste. With the validation of the changes, the producers will now be able to choose whether to label their wines as Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG or the more simple Asolo DOCG, linking the wine even more to its place of origin.
Prosecco sur lies, the niche of the Prosecco niche, draws its particular character from the yeasts left by the refermentation in the bottle. A summer wine, it is light, fresh, but cloudy, an apparent defect that proves to be a positive quality. Sur lies – or “on the lees (of the yeasts)” – indicates a wine that remains in contact with the lees of yeast after successful refermentation, adding a fuller flavor. More tasty, more bubbly, it is produced from a grape that is processed as little as possible, without adding sulfites to allow spontaneous fermentation. An artisanal product that recalls rural tradition. Originally it was produced for big occasions. The farmer-winemakers kept a small batch to bottle for the holidays. In the 1970s there was the risk that it would disappear forever, but today it has been rehabilitated by the growing demand for genuine wines, the so-called natural ones. Sur lies Prosecco is perfect with Venetian cicchetti (snacks that are consumed in typical Venetian taverns called “Bacari”), half egg with anchovies, toasted bread with lard, bread with creamed cod and Venetian sopressa cured salami.
Differences with sparkling wine
Prosecco and sparkling wine are not the same thing. Sparkling wine, being a category of wines, can be produced in any area of Italy and with any grape. Prosecco, on the other hand, which is a DOC or DOCG, can only be produced in some areas of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia and from Glera, Verdiso, Pinot blanc, gris or noir grapes and only with the Charmat method. In general, wine is produced by alcoholic fermentation: the sugars naturally present in the grapes are transformed into alcohol and carbon dioxide. To make a sparkling wine a second fermentation is necessary to capture the carbon dioxide inside the bottle, creating the bubbles. The Charmat method, used for Prosecco, calls for the second fermentation to take place in stainless steel tanks and not in the bottle. The result is a fresh and aromatic wine, immediately ready to drink.
How to serve it
To serve it we recommend using a Prosecco glass, made by Riedel specifically for this wine. Alternatively you can choose a rather large tulip wine glass to appreciate the richness of the aromas. Flutes and goblets are not recommended. It should be served at a temperature between 6 and 8 degrees Celsius, depending on the type and the meal, to bring out the characteristic fragrance of the wine.
Types and combinations
Prosecco Superiore is produced in three basic types – Brut, Extra Dry, Dry – which are essentially distinguished by their sugary residue.
• The Brut version, the one that most appeals to international tastes, has an aroma rich in hints of citrus and vegetal notes that are accompanied by a pleasant accent of bread crust. The fine bead ensures the persistence of flavor and a clean palate. It should be served at 6-8°C, with fish and vegetable appetizers, seafood and baked fish dishes or – as it is used in the area where it is produced – throughout the meal. The sugar residue ranges from 0 to 12 g/l.
• The Extra Dry type, the most traditional, has a fresh and elegant flavor, bursting with the aroma of fruit, apple, pear, and with a hint of citrus fruit that fades into the floral. Excellent as an aperitif, it is ideal served at 6-8°C with vegetable soups and seafood, pasta with delicate meat sauces, fresh cheeses and white meats, especially poultry. Its sugar residue ranges from 12 to 17 g/l.
• The Dry version is the least widespread. It has a pale straw yellow color, a delicate, fruity bouquet with hints of citrus, white peach and green apple, and a savory, fresh and soft taste thanks to its elegant somewhat sweet note. To mitigate its sweetness, it should be served cool, around 6°C. This is the type that is suitable for the most particular combinations, with dry desserts or with the spicy foods of fusion cuisine. Its sugar residue ranges from 17 to 32 g/l.
(Source: Consorzio Tutela del Conegliano Valdobbiadene Docg Prosecco Superiore)