Tiny Bubbles: The Charming Taste of Italy
Good Wine Comes from Beautiful Places
The Veneto is a very large region in the Northeast of Italy. Characterized by the limestone reliefs that rise to over 2,000 meters such as Mount Grappa, parts of the Dolomites, and the Asiago Plateau in the North, and the flat coastal strip that extensive lagoon areas, the many canals and rivers which run through the area is perfect for agricultural activities.
Among the many regional grapes that deserve mentioning, and there are too many to focus on in just one moment, one that does stand out and which is less known throughout the world than its French cousin, is the DOCG and DOC of prosecco, which is produced primarily from the Glera grape.
The term “Glera” was commonly used to mean “prosecco” in the past, especially in the Trieste and Slovenian Karst area. But in 2009, to protect the “prosecco” region of wine, the EU has officially renamed the grape for this reason. The grape itself has a neutral flavor and a low sugar concentration which makes it ideal for sparkling wine production.
In the past few years, prosecco has become a wine that is more broadly known throughout the world. It is produced by refermentation in autoclave. However, Prosecco ColFondo, which is by from refermentation in the bottle without disgorging is also making a strong comeback.
Venetian-Style Living In A Sparkling Sip of Prosecco
The Slow Wine World Tour happened this year in Miami and I was lucky enough to be invited for a day of tasting from over 70 vineyards and distilleries from all over Italy. It was also a Master Class to discuss different types of wine produced with the aim to provide a professional audience with the opportunity to discover and explore the varieties of Italian wine.
Over the course of 4 distinct courses, I had the opportunity to taste over 30 different wines representing Italian production, exploring the importance of soil and weather conditions, different production styles, and was educated on reading the labels for a fuller understanding of their meaning.
The most intriguing class for me was the final one of the day. The topic was Asolo Prosecco, and through the tasting we saw the difference between the different types. The first was 'Sul Lievili; which yeasts in the bottle, has absolutely zero residual sugar, and has a slightly cloudy appearance in your glass. From there we moved through Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, and Dry...all of which have the second fermentation in Autoclaves versus the bottle. This way of fermentation gave way to the clear appearance that so many of us are familiar with.
Asolo Prosecco: A Completely Different Story
In the same region, some of the wine makers are producing the ancient 'Colfondo Agricolo' under the Colli Trevigiani Igt. According to Italian regulations, this wine cannot be name 'Prosecco'. The Glera grapes themselves are soft pressed and the secondary fermentation happens in the bottles, as we have previously discussed without disgorging. The wine makers in this region, utilizing this method are truly masters of their craft who believe in the power of bottle-fermented wine. The earthy tones come through with every crisp and tantalizing sip.
One vineyard that I found during my day, was Venetian Hills: Casa Vinicola. The estate is located on a sloping hillside in the heart of the Colli Asolani near the ancient Roman city of Asolo. The vineyards are roughly 700 feet above sea level; which means they are kissed by the sun and caressed by the breezes of the Adriatic Sea...truly producing a prosecco which captures the essence of the vine's interaction with earth and sun.
The representative I spoke to was Beth Moreno, who was more than enthusiastic about the quality that she was about to pour into my glass. Beth shared with me her Asolo Prosecco Superiore Brut DOCG. It had a light lemon color as the minuscule bubbles bounced to the top of my glass. After the endorsement, one cannot help but savor the moment. She nudged me to smell the bouquet of citrus fruits and flowers before I took a sip which did not disappoint.
My first sip was fresh and crisp. It was balanced with a delicate complexity the finished soft. It did not have the bitter finish that most prosecchi have, in my opinion. It did not leave your mouth feeling dry or parched as some Bruts do for me. Beth smiled when she saw my immediate love. Her prosecco was the item I had been looking for that could be enjoyed while relaxing on a hot and humid summer day or could also step up in the event that it was accompanying a special occasion.
Although it was coming in at 11% it did not have that alcoholic sting that some have. It is definitely one that needs to be chilled before serving, but that is what you would do with prosecco anyway. I do understand that everybody has a preference when it comes to wine. Some like a red wine with fish...any true winelover will tell you that is ok, drink what you like with what you like.
We had the chance to take a deeper dive in a bottle of
Beth's Asolo Prosecco Superiore Brut DOCG at home with a selection of Italian cheese and salami as an aperitivo one afternoon last weekend, and it still did not disappoint. My recommendation is this: no matter what your preferences are, Asolo Prosecco should not be enjoyed on it's own...although you could and have no regrets. But when you add the companions of Italian food culture with it, it goes from being really good to remarkable. And that has to mean something coming from a guy who usually enjoys red over whites. Cin Cin!
To Learn More about Venetian Hill Winery: Visit Their Website: HERE
Azienda Agricola Venetian Hills
31010 Maser (TV) Italia