Friday, July 9, 2010

The Lure of Prosecco

I went to an Italian wine tasting at Tim's Wine Market on Wednesday of this week and the Prosecco offerings (i) reminded me as to why this wine is one of my wife's favorites and (ii) gave me the urge to learn more about the varietal.  The Prosecco's tasted were the Trevisiol Winery Prosecco Brut and Rosecco and the winemaker, Paolo Trevisiol, was on hand to act as our guide.

Prosecco wines are known for their pale straw-yellow color, moderate body, delicate flavors, and aromatics, characteristics which are preserved by the use of the Charmat method of sparkling wine production.  Unlike the methode traditionelle, the Charmat method allows for the second fermentation to occur in pressurized tanks rather than bottles.  The result is a fresh sparkling wine at a reasonable cost.  In order to be called Proseco, the wine has to be made from a minimum of 85% Prosecco with the remainder drawn from local varietals such as Bianchetta and Verdiso.  The best Proseccos are generally made from 100% Prosecco.


From 1969 until 2008, the Prosecco DOC covered wines made from Prosecco grapes grown in the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene areas of the Veneto region.  Beginning with the 2009 vintage, this area was upgraded to DOCG status and allowed to place DOCG Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore on the label.  The production zone for the grapes extends over 15 communes and 18,000 hectares along the hills around Valdobbiadene.  The vines are planted on south-facing slopes at elevations ranging between 50 and 500 meters thus allowing for long hang times and good drainage.  Within the broader DOCG there is a smaller delimited area of 104 hectares which has a specific microclimate and soils (moriane, sandstones, clay) that produces exceptional, grand-cru-type Prosecco.  This area is called Cartizze and wines made from grapes grown in this region are allowed to so indicate on the bottle.

Prosecco production is tightly controlled by an organization called the Tutelary Consortium.  This group was initially formed in 1962 by 11 regional producers and is a private body focused on improving quality and and monitoring adherence to production rules.  Tutelary Consortium rules cover grape origin, varieties, vinification, bottling, and marketing.

The Trevisiol Winery is located in the hills of Valdobbiadene.  The vineyards are located at 200 - 300 meters elevation and are planted at 2800 to 3500 vines/hectare with vines that are, on average, 40-years old.  The soil type is called Morenico and is comprised of alluvial deposits from ancient glaciers.  The winemaker is Paolo Trevisiol, a second-generation winemaker.

The pictures below show the Trevisiol wines and the winemaker in discussion with Tim, the owner of Tim's Wine Market.

The Prosecco Brut is a 2500-case production made from 100% Prosecco.  This wine has delicious fruit and floral aromas and is light and "peachy soft"on the palate.  This is an excellent aperitif or a summer refreshing wine. Retails for $16. The Rosecco is a 550-case production crafted from 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 20% Prosecco.  This sparkling rose is a study in minerality, acidity and cherry/raspberry fruitiness.  This wine is being introduced to the US for the first time and is available at a price of $20.

The tasting was conducted on a hot evening at very close quarters so these refreshing wines were especially appreciated.

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