Let me introduce you to Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G.
Tis' the season when we start to think about all things sparkling wine. Holiday gatherings and celebratory meetups make bubbles just the thing you need to have on hand, not to mention New Year's Eve. The bubbles must be in abundance then.
A post about sparkling wine may come as no surprise to some of you as we've talked quite a bit about it on this site; how it's made, styles, and food pairing prowess. Today, however, I want to focus on one type of sparkling wine in particular: Prosecco Superiore.
As you make your holiday sparkling decisions, I think it worthwhile to dig into this sparkler and understand how to find quality Prosecco that will more than delight, and not break the bank.
The Guide to Prosecco Superiore
Prosecco can be one of those polarising wines, and that's because all Prosecco, unfortunately, get painted with the same brush. So, I am going to walk you through how to find Prosecco Superiore. To start, let me introduce you to Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G., Prosecco's original growing area.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene - The Region
Close your eyes and imagine steep hillside vineyards with picturesque vistas that leave you breathless and in awe of the region's landscape, and that is Conegliano Valdobbiadene.
Found in the Veneto region, northeast Italy, this tiny area is plush to the eye. It spans just 8,700 hectares across 15 municipalities. It is landmass filled with 'hogback' hills and grass-
laden vineyard floors. Still, the practical 'you' will realise the heroics that must be involved when picking. The steep slopes have meant that grape farmers have had to develop vine training and harvesting innovations fit for the terrain. That ingenuity, undoubtedly, adds to the region's charm.
In 2019, Conegliano Valdobbiadene was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being:
"an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement, land-use, or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures), or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change" ~ UNESCO
Having UNESCO attestation is validation that the ingenuity and breathtaking landscape of the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene are world-renowned.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene - The Guaranty
In addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage site, Conegliano Valdobbiadene is one of only two D.O.C.G.s producing Prosecco.
The region was awarded the high designation of D.O.C.G. (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantita) in 2009. That 'garantita' guarantees the consumer that the wine in that bottle is of high standing and held to a quality classification reviewed annually and enforced by a third party.
The attention to quality continues beyond the denomination level. There are two other label markets of quality to showcase the stylistic variety of Prosecco found in Conegliano Valdobbiadene.
If you see Cartizze adorned on the bottle, you are in for a treat. It represents that the grapes come from the hilly Grand Cru vineyard of only 108 hectares in the municipality of Valdobbiadene. These wines are formally labelled 'Superiore Cartizze'. Cartizze wines are well respected and hailed as the holy grail of Prosecco Superiore.
The next honourable mention from the region is Rive. If you see this on the label, it is yet another indication of quality. It means that the grapes come from steep vineyards and are from a single hamlet. These areas (43 in all) have unique microclimates and produce grapes of significant quality.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene - The Wine
Let's get one myth out of the way. Prosecco Superiore is the wine produced, and the grape it is made from is called Glera.
There are many that refer to Prosecco as a grape, but since 2009, with the D.O.C.G. designation, the grape is formally referred to as Glera. It is also helpful to know that along with Glera, Italian wine law will allow up to 15% of other authorised grapes to be used when making Prosecco Superiore, among which some ancient and local varieties.
Unlike Champagne, where the second fermentation (when the bubbles are formed) happens in individual bottles, Prosecco is made with the second fermentation occurring in a pressurised tank, and there are benefits to this. The tank method of making sparkling wine is not only more affordable, it also allows Glera to shine in all of its glory.
Glera is a highly aromatic grape with tropical fruit, pear, peach, and opulent white floral notes. In addition, a more judicious contact with lees, made possible using the tank method, lets you discover all of Glera's bouquet in a glass of Prosecco.
I recently had the Val d'Oca Prosecco DOCG and was gleefully met with a fresh, young, lively wine. Citrus, green apple, peach, pear, and hawthorn flowers on the nose. This is a dry wine with excellent acidity on the palate amongst notes of mandarin orange, peach, and ginger. All the while giving you persistent bubbles of a fine texture that do not dissipate. This was a $20.00 well-spent.
Prosecco Superiore in a Nutshell
What you get with a Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is an ideal buy, especially during the holiday season, when you find yourself having to purchase sparkling wine on mass! These D.O.C.G. wines represent sparkling wine quality in the glass and are the very best of the region. That 'garantita' means something.
This guide to Prosecco Superiore shows how much this sparkling wine has to offer and at a consumer-friendly price point. If you are like me and bubbles are a thing this holiday month, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is on the shopping list.
Cheers to a bubbles-filled holiday season!