Saturday, December 28, 2019

A DOC(G) sparkling wine map of Veneto

Veneto is the ancestral home of Prosecco, the Italian sparkler of the day, but it is also home to wide range of other, mostly unheralded sparkling wines. I map the totality of Veneto sparkling wines in this post.

Veneto (18,398 km²) is the eighth-largest of the 20 Italian regions while its 4.8 million population places it in sixth position in that category. The region is planted to 90,000 ha of vines, 25% of which are DOC/DOCG-rated. While the region produces the most DOC wine of any region, some of these vines have been planted in new areas that have been deployed to take advantage of international market demand and the resulting wines have not been well-received.

Vine growth in Veneto is concentrated in the east, in the vicinity of the Venice Lagoon and the Adriatic Sea, and in the west close to the Alps and Lake Garda. In the west, the cooler, Alpine-influenced climate supports grape varieties such as Corvina, Rondinella, Garganega, and Trebbiano di Soave. The eastern portion of the region is warmer and more efficient at ripening varieties such as Glera, Merlot, Verduzzo, and Refosco. The central part of the region serves as a transition area between the east and west.

The two charts following map the distribution of sparkling wines in Veneto. Of 14 DOCGs, five produce sparkling wines (and there of those are sweet); of 29 DOCs, 20 produce one or more sparkling wines.

There are two sparkling-wine-only appellations: Lissini Durello and Vigneti della Serenissima DOCs. The dominant method of sparkling-wine production is Charmat. A total of four appellations are shared with neighboring regions: Garda and Lugana DOCs with Lombardia; Prosecco DOC with Friuli-Venezia Giulia; and Delle Venezie DOC with Trento and Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

I explore the Prosecco DOCG appellations and the shared- and sparkling-wine-only appellations in the following.

Prosecco DOCG Appellations
There are two separate Prosecco DOCG zones, both falling within the borders of the province of Treviso. The first, and having the greatest repute, is Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. This zone is approximately 50 km from Venice and 100 km from the Dolomites. It runs east to west from the plains to the foot of the Alps and incorporates the 15 hill communities that lie between Conegliano and Valdiobbadene. Approximately 6100 ha of vineyards are deployed on south-facing slopes that range between 50- and 500-meters high.

An area within the municipality of Valdiobbadene called Cartizze is considered the region's cru. This 106-ha area has a mild microclimate and a varied soil to include moraine, sandstone, and clay components. The vineyards are positioned on south-facing slopes and have excellent drainage.


The second DOCG zone is Colli Asolani/Asolo and is located in the Montello e Colli Asolani wine region. It encompasses a 5-mile-long ridge of gently rolling hills running between the towns of Cornuda and Asolo. The best vineyards are found on south-facing slopes where the gentle gradients and loose soil combine for excellent drainage and optimal sunlight exposure.


Shared Appellations
Prosecco DOC
The Prosecco DOC was first awarded in 1969 and was restricted to wines produced in the Conegliano-Valdiobbadene region.  Growers felt that the brand was under attack by "imitators" using just the grape variety and moved to isolate those competitors by changing both the rules and the venue of the game.  Prosecco growers agitated for, and gained regulatory acceptance of: (i) extension of the Prosecco DOC to cover all of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and approximately two-thirds of Veneto; (ii) promotion of the original Prosecco DOC to DOCG status; (iii) changing the name of the source grape from Prosecco to Glera; and (iv) restricting the use of the name Prosecco only to Glera sparkling wines produced within the delimited zones.  The growers felt that these actions would serve to protect their territory, the brand, and the quality of Prosecco.  The regulations authorizing these actions came into law in 2009.

The Grape(s)
Prosecco is primarily made from the Glera (formerly Prosecco; also known as Prosecco Bianco and Proseko Sciprina) grape variety, a native of northeast Italy which has been used to produce wines since Roman times.  This late-ripening, thick-skinned variety has greenish-yellow berries which evolve to a yellow-gold color as the grapes ripen.  The grapes are high in acid and have a white peach aromatic profile, qualities which render them eminently suitable for the production of sparkling wines.

Glera is primarily used in the production of fizzy and sparkling wines but there are a few examples of still Glera wines around.  In addition to Glera, Prosecco wines can contain as much as 15% of other grape varieties.  The most oft-used supplements are Verdiso, Branchetta, Perera, Glera Lunga, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay.

Prosecco DOC Production Area
Prosecco DOC wines are authorized for production in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and Veneto (provinces of Treviso, Belluna, Padova, Venezia, and Vicenzia).  Within the broader Prosecco DOC, there are two sub-zones: DOC Treviso Prosecco and Prosecco di Trieste. These sub-zones cover Prosecco made within these two provinces and wines made therein can so indicate on their labels.  Prosecco wines made in other provinces cannot carry the province name on the labels.


Prosecco Rosé
This is a new addition to the lineup and is viewed as having the potential to provide a significant sales boost to the Consorzio members who have been suffering the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic. The requirements for the new entrant are as follows:
  • Glera base blended with 10 - 15% Pinot Nero
  • Max yields 18 tons/ha for Glera and 13.5 tons/ha for Pinot Nero
  • from Brut Nature to Extra Dry
  • Prise de mousse must happen in vat according to the Charmat Method for a minimum of 60 days
  • Commercialization allowed fro January 1st following harvest
  • Labels must be vintage-dated (millesimato) with a minimum of 85% of the fruit coming form the stated vintage.
Delle Venezie DOC
This region specializes in the production of Pinot Grigio in an area spanning the totality of Friuli-Venezia Guilia, Veneto, and the Trento province of the autonomous Trento-Alto Adige region. The raisons d'etre of this expansive region are (i) proximity and (ii) pedi-climatic affinity. The wide plain between the Adriatic Sea and the Po River has been "developed over centuries by deposition of both calcareous and coarse material and gravel and sand" and also has good drainage capability.

The proximity to the Alps results in a cool and windy climate which contributes to high acid retention in the grapes, a characteristic of the wines. Water is limited but is sufficient for a regular ripening of the grapes.

The region experiences significant diurnal temperature variation:
A marked night-day temperature change during the ripening of the grapes ... enhances and maintains the aromatic outfit of the grapes ... this perfume, combined with the acidic framework, allows ... fresh and aromatic sparkling wines.
The sparkling wines must be tank-fermented and must contain no more than 32 g/L of residual sugar.

This DOC became functional with the 2017 vintage, replacing the IGT of the same name. The IGT which it supplanted will be known as IGT Trevenezie henceforth.

Lugana DOC
This is a white-wine specific border region that is 600 ha in size. The climate is influenced by the lake, with mild winters and warm summers -- almost Mediterranean -- the order of the day. The calcareous clay soils are deep and rich in mineral salts. The variety employed herein is Trebbiano di Lugana which yields wines that are balanced, structured, and fragrant.

Sparkling wines are produced using both the Charmat Method and the Metodo Classico. In describing the differences between the two, the states thusly:
In the former case, the taste profile displays greater simplicity and freshness, with primary aromas of citrus fruits (especially citrons) and a creamier, more generous perlage, while the latter it becomes more refined and complex, with a more elegant, lively bouquet and a more graceful, "crisp" perlage.
Sparkling-Wine-Only DOCs
Lissini Durello DOC
This appellation covers the high valleys of the Lissini Mountains between the provinces of Verona and Vicenza. The volcanic slopes provide the high hillside vineyards exposure, ventilation, and diurnal temperature variation, all of which contribute freshness and aromatic qualities to the sparkling wine.

The variety is Durella, indigenous to these mountains since the Middle Ages. The grapes are golden-hued with thick skins and acidulous flavor. Because of its high acidity the Durella destind fro sparkling wine is picked at full maturity.

Writing in Wine Enthusiast (Metodo Classico, Your Next Italian Sparkling Wine (That Isn't Prosecco)), Kerin O'Keefe describes these sparkling wines as boasting "... tension, energy, and finesse." O'Keefe also points out that an upcoming regulatory modification will have the name Lessini Durello used exclusively for Charmat sparklers while the Metodo Classico versions will be called Monte Lessini. Her wine recommendations are:
  • Coret Moschina 2012 Riserva 60 Mesi
  • Sandro de Bruno NV 36 Mesi
  • Fattori 2012 Ronca Non Dosato 60 Mesi Metodo Classico.
Vigneti della Serenissima DOC
This appellation covers the hilly and foothill areas of the provinces of Belluno, Treviso, Padua, Vicenza, and Verona between the Alps in the north and the Po Valley in the south. The climate is conducive to gradual ripening of grapes. Sparkling wines are produced using the classical method.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

No comments:

Post a Comment