Tasting in Prosecco – Bortolomiol, Sorelle-Bronca and Valdellövo

“We’ve gone to Prosecco,” we said incorrectly when we left to check out the who, where and how of Italy’s and the world’s most popular tank-made wine. As a matter of fact, we didn’t actually go to Prosecco. The place that provided the sparkling wine’s name is more of a cultural reference point now as the Glera grape variety that provides the basis for Prosecco was first grown on its outskirts. Whoever goes to Prosecco will in fact drive between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, along serpentine roads, among quarry stone houses and beautiful vineyards, where the wineries making the most excellent Proseccos have found themselves at home.

Classification

Prosecco can be made in nine north-eastern Italian provinces within the Friuli, Venezia, Giulia and Veneto regions. The Prosecco DOC indication on the label displays that the wine comes from this region that has grown to 17,000 hectares by this vintage.

The next level of classification is the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, which includes 15 villages and 6,000 hectares of south-facing limestone slopes that are hand harvested, some of which are very steep with an incline of up to 70% – and the result is elegant, mineral and fruity sparkling wine.

At the top of the Prosecco pyramid is Cartizze, which as the garden of Valdobbiadene is open to anyone who likes to visit steep, hot vineyards – we explored it in a state of complete serenity as we knew that somewhere along the road there were some chilled bottles waiting for us. For it’s just as authentic to drink Prosecco in the vineyards as driving through the hill in Jani Márkvárt’s Lada 1500 or getting lost in geological eras with István Szepsy on the top of the Szent Tamás vineyard. Everybody would like a slice of Cartizze: the 106 hectare vineyard is currently shared by 140 owners.

 

Glera, the traditional grape variety

The basis of the wine is always provided by Glera, which is usually blended with 15% of local varieties Verdiso, Perera and Bianchetta, plus the international Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties. When a larger percentage of Pinot Noir is used or it is made as a rosé, the end result cannot be called Prosecco even if the grapes come from the highest ranking vineyards. The strict, traditional regulation has been criticized more and more frequently: as rosé Champagne and Franciacorta also exist, there is also a demand for the same in Prosecco. Owing to this, more and more wineries forgo using the Prosecco name and the place of origin indication for one wine or another – two perfect examples are the rosé sparkling wines of Bortolomiol and Santa Margherita that are débuting in our selection now.

 

Tank Method

While Champagne was already bottled in the 17th century, people had to wait until the 19th century for Prosecco. Before we got completely confused, we clarified that the tank method, Metodo Italiano, Cuve Close and the Charmat Method, mean the same tank procedure that makes the Prosecco fresh, fruity and its production cost effective. Our team, which is used to minding out from banging its heads on cool, candle-lit cellar tours, clumsily wandered among the steel tanks that recall the height of multi-level buildings – the modern and sterile environment of the wineries probably perform worse in romantic terms but in precision and technology, they are ahead of a lot of regions.

 

Based on fermentation and carbon dioxide content, it’s worth discussing the two different styles. Spumante is made with a minimum of 3.5 bars of pressure, with more elegant bubbles and a longer fermentation process. In the case of Frizzante, also called semi-sparkling the pressure is 1-2.5 bars. The less bubbly but ever more popular sparkler doesn’t yet have a Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG classification, as it is made in very small quantities here. However, due to its outstanding quality, it wouldn’t be surprising if this would change soon.

 

 

Bortolomiol

Upon arriving in Valdobbiadene, we started tasting at Bortolomiol which is within walking distance of the town centre. Giuliano Bortolomiol’s heritage is carried on by his four daughters, although their mother still visits the vineyards today. They showed us around the winery close to the town’s historic centre.    

 

 

Sorelle Bronca

The entire Bronca family welcomed us in Colbertaldo and they showed us how a winery can be modern and 100% organic and sustainable while working with pioneering methods

 

 

Valdellövo

Benedetto and Clotilde received us warmly and sincerely at their Collalto Valdellövo estate, which at 10 hectares in size equates to a micro winery locally. At the winery which eschews the idea of mass production, we got to know two special faces of Prosecco: the bottle fermented Col Fondo, which is left on the lees; and the unfiltered Non Filtrato

 

 

Santa Margherita

The Italian winery that is known mainly for its Pinot Grigio and makes wine in Alto Adige, next to the Veneto and also in Tuscany, has been on the shelves of our shops for many years. Their rosé sparkling wine, which cannot be called Prosecco due to the regulations, is our latest new arrival.