Now that Prosecco has become DOC/DOCG, I wanted to find out what the producers thought about the new laws for Italy’s largest selling sparkling wine. As luck would have it, within the space of two weeks, I was able to meet two top producers of prosecco and ask them all my questions and then compare their answers.
Primo Franco, owner and wine maker for Nino Franco, one of the oldest and most respected Prosecco firms, and Tony Di Dio of Tony Di Dio Selections invited me to lunch to taste Primo’s wines. I have known Primo for almost 20 years and have always found him very interesting and knowledgeable on the subject of prosecco.
Then, the region of the Veneto asked me to act as their sommelier at the Veneto exhibit in the Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station. Working at the stand next to mine was Matteo Bisol of the famous prosecco family. When we were not pouring wine we talked about prosecco in general and Bisol prosecco in particular.
It was fascinating to me that while Matteo Bisol is in his early twenties and Primo Franco who has been making prosecco for many years and come from different generations, their ideas on prosecco and the new laws were almost the same. They both had the same passion when they spoke about prosecco.
Bisol makes a range of prosecco but my favorite is the “Cru Crede”. I asked Matteo what made his prosecco special. He said that the average vineyard holding in the prosecco area is very small, about one hectare. Because of this many of the large producers purchase most of their grapes. Bisol owns 50 hectares of DOCG vineyards including three hectares in the Cartizze zone with the highest and most expensive vineyards. Owning their own vineyards he felt gave them quality control over the whole wine making process and therefore a better prosecco.
I asked Primo Franco to explain the new DOC/DOCG laws. He said that the Conegliano/Valdobbiadene zone, the historical area around these two towns, would now become DOCG. The zones that were IGT would now become DOC, and the rest IGT. This DOC would include the 9 provinces of Treviso: Vicenza, Padova, Belluno, Venezia, Pordenone, Udine, Gorizia and Trieste. Only the producers in the DOC and DOCG zones will be allowed to call their wine Prosecco, while those in the IGT zone will have to call it Glera. The term Prosecco will be used to identify the region that the wine comes from and the grape will be Glera. This would all take place with the 2009 harvest.
Bringing more production zones under the DOC/DOCG regulations should make the quality of Prosecco improve. Many producers in the IGT zones have not followed traditional methods leading to an inferior product that confused the consumer. The new laws will protect the producers who have worked honestly and respectfully following the traditions of the terroir, and the winemaking heritage that comes from this wine area.
Under the new law, a producer cannot make a “Rose Prosecco” (which I always saw as a contradiction in terms) nor have the words Prosecco Blend on the label. Prosecco is now produced all over the world, even in Brazil. Both Primo and Matteo hoped that the new laws would preserve Prosecco’s identify and integrity and that the new regulations will help people to understand that true Prosecco only comes from the DOC/DOCG zone
They both believed that the best Prosecco is produced in the Conegliano/Valdobbiadene zone. However, they feel that there is a difference in the Prosecco produced in Valdobbiadene and Conegliano. Valdobbiadene produces lighter, more elegant wines with a mineral character. It gets more sun as it faces southwest and the soil is chalk and limestone so the wines must go deeper to get water. This area makes the best spumante. In Conegliano, the soil is clay and much heavier which gives the wine more body and makes it more rustic. It is closer to the Dolomites in the north and makes better frizzante wines. Both own vineyards in Valdobbiadene. I tend to agree with them.
. It is interesting to note that 2009 has seen a dramatic fall in the price of grapes in Italy. Prices have decreased between 10% and 50%. The only variety that has not dropped in price is the prosecco grape from the new DOCG, Conegliand/Valdobbiadene! Even with the price of grapes remaining high and the lower yields from the new laws they did not think the price of prosecco would go up. They also did not feel that the lower yields would have an effect on the type of prosecco produced. Both felt that prosecco would keep its traditional character.
I also noted that both served their prosecco in a white wine glass and not in a flute. A flute is used for champagne not for prosecco!