Posted on 15-03-2017
Author: Ciro Pirone
Glera (the grape) also known has Prosecco (the wine) is probably one of the most incredible success stories of the wine industry of Italy. In the short term of about 5-8 years Prosecco’s sales and production have skyrocketed to an unbelievable level and continue to grow. In the last couple of years Prosecco has witnessed a double digit growth in the US market and continues to be really strong. Few reasons led to this amazing success are certainly the drinkability of Prosecco, the very good price and for sure the feeling of wanted to enjoy a piece of Italy in the world.
But with success also come risks…in 2009 the area of production of Prosecco was enlarged to cover practically 2 regions of Italy, Veneto and Friuli (for the Prosecco Doc), within which we find the Prosecco Treviso Doc (limited to the province of Treviso) and the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Docg (the best area composed of 15 villages). With such a gigantic growth in landmass also the quantity available has grown and not necessarily for the best quality. Just a day ago I read an article about a sizeable amount of Prosecco being sequestered by the Italian police for not being the real deal, together with the various examples of Secco or Prosecco that have a beer cap (not allowed by law) and just labels that proliferate in the market and create confusion between the consumers, damaging the image of the wine and producers that are committed to their land.
I am a true lover of Italy and all its wines, as long as they are truly made the way they are supposed to and represent the grape/s and the place they come from. I travelled few times throughout the area of Valdobbiadene thanks to my work and the great relationship I have with one of the top Prosecco (and sparkling houses) producers, Villa Sandi, owned for four generations by the Moretti Polegato family and Giancarlo being the current President. Prosecco to me represents the quintessential Italian moment of the aperitivo, by itself, with Aperol for a Spritz, or in other preparations it really is a very enjoyable wine. From the driest version (Brut) thru the Extra Dry style and moving on to the Dry (sweeter) style Prosecco can accompany many dishes at the table.
Definitely antipasti and shellfish are a match made in heaven for the Brut, but with a good pasta (bigoli with duck ragu’) or branzino al forno an Extra Dry version with a little more roundness on the palate plays wonderfully, and if you are a fan of fruit tarts or Panettone (during the holidays), the Dry with a bit more sweetness will do the job.
Within the few tiers of Prosecco there is ONE that truly is magical, the Cartizze, also known as the Grand Cru of Prosecco. Cartizze is a vineyard area of about 106ha split between 120 something growers, everyone wants a piece for prestige (kind of Barolo’s Cannubi).
Cartizze is located in the highest elevation point of the village of Valdobbiadene (up to 530mt), and it is shaped as an amphitheater, to catch the sun throughout the day. The soils are very chalky with lots of marine fossils that impart the wines an incredible minerality and fullness on the palate. The quantity produced is typically very limited and tends to be sold predominantly in Italy and in some parts of Europe but Villa Sandi decided to export some of their sought after (6 years in a row Tre Bicchieri awarded) Cartizze Vigna La Rivetta Valdobbiadene Docg to show that Prosecco can be a great wine beyond the everyday examples (lots of times lacking character and personality).
I believe that all of us wine professionals have to do a better job to tell a great story such as that of Villa Sandi and other great producers working hard to put the best foot forth and make truly stellar Proseccos.