Prosecco with a G
The vineyards in Italy that produce the country's preeminent Prosecco are going from DOC to DOCG status. Anthony Giglio explains why this is such a big deal.
by Anthony Giglio
I am from the ’burbs. I grew up in
Imagine my excitement, then, when I heard that far from the MTV-famous Jersey shore and the tangled freeways featured in The Sopranos, another ’burb, outside of
Those days are over, though. The Italian government recently bestowed this humble area tucked away in central
Recently the Consorzio of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene Prosecco producers invited me to visit and take in these changes first hand, and I jumped at the opportunity.
When I arrived, it was clear that there’s a renaissance underway. You can feel it in the air. There’s the distinctive beauty of the hills and valleys covered in vineyards, provincial towns, historic architecture, and hiking and bicycling trails. Winemaking is so entrenched here that the locals are pushing to become the first UNESCO World Heritage site recognized entirely on vini-viticultural grounds.
The push to conserve the area’s heritage and beauty doesn’t mean the locals are unwelcoming. Civic leaders with an eye toward tourism established
But I’ve come for the Prosecco, and to celebrate with the locals, because their valley has been elevated to top dog among its peers. After 40 years of being engulfed by the huge Prosecco DOC zone, and the broad and nebulous area that includes IGT Prosecco (a less stringent designation for Prosecco produced as far east as Trieste), the Italian government finally recognized Conegliano-Valdobbiadene as superior and worthy of the guarantee that adds a “G” to the DOC designation. Rising from DOC to DOCG status is a huge success for a wine region. To put this in perspective, there are only 44 DOCG areas in
All of which means you’ll find the locals in a particularly hospitable mood these days, which I experienced firsthand at the spectacularly cluttered, bursting-with-energy Locanda Da Lino, a small inn and delightful restaurant founded in 1961 by the famous Italian chef, Lino Toffolin, whose family still runs the inn. Toffolin was a national icon and TV personality who surrounded himself with jet-setters and movie stars, and the guest rooms are named for famous people who once slept there (mine was Marcello Mastroianni’s, who was a good friend of Toffolin and apparently designed some of the furniture). The restaurant is packed with bric-a-brac—hundreds of copper pots hang from the ceiling of a dining room with one giant table that could easily seat 80 people. I am dreaming of hosting a dinner party there featuring their signature handmade tagliolini tossed with a sauce made from the region’s famous radicchio di Treviso, and the roasted faraona (guinea fowl) dressed in the local salsa peverada, a fabulous savory, pepper-based sauce that includes the bird’s innards and lots of sage.
Of course, there are also wineries where you can sleep. The Alice Relais, in a restored 19th century farmhouse, neighbors Bellenda winery in Carpesica, near Conegliano. Outside Valdobbiadene, there’s the famous Bisol winery in Santo Stefano. And Villa Sandi, with rooms at its lovely Locanda Sandi in Crocetta del Montello, has a wonderful restaurant. Hotels proper include Hotel Canon d’Oro in Conegliano, and Hotel Villa Abbazia in Follina. The Villa Abbazia, by the way, is pretty swanky, being the only Relais et Chateaux property in eastern
While my time was short, I managed to fit in another memorable meal at Ristorante Da Gigetto in Miane, a town on the northern leg of the strada. There was a creamy, white truffle-speckled fondue made of Montasio cheese, which concealed a silky egg yolk the color of saffron. It was merely chef Marco Bortolini’s welcome dish, but I could have had two more and called it a meal, alongside the copious coupes of Sorelle Bronca Prosecco, “Particella 68,” which sommelier Roberto Pieri poured liberally from his cellar of 10,000-plus bottles (ask for a cellar tour).
Locanda da Lino is in Pieve di Soligo, nearly dead-center between the “capitals” of the new DOCG, with Conegliano to the east and Valdobbiadene to the west, both about 20 minutes away. While Conegliano is considered the historic heart of the Prosecco region, Valdobbiadene is where the action is, including the prestigious hilltop vineyards of Cartizze, the grand cru of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. While there are more historical sites in Conegliano and more wineries to visit in Valdobbiadene, if you are near Conegliano you should make an appointment for a wine tasting and tour at Collalto in Susegana, which is home to the enormous and ancient Castello San Salvatore. Heading west toward Valdobbiadene, I tasted delicious wines at Adami and Mionetto, and took in a spectacular sunset at Col Vetoraz, which holds bragging rights to the best view of the region from the highest perch in Cartizze.
From here you get a clear view over the hills and vineyards, and after a day of touring the valley’s wineries, it is clear that Conegliano-Valdobbiadene deserves every bit of its DOCG status. If this is the ’burbs, I’m all for it.
Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Dry, “Vigneto Giardino,” 2007
Brothers Armando and Franco Adami follow in the footsteps of their father, Adriano, and his father, Abele, who purchased this single-vineyard estate in 1920. It’s become legendary and is considered Prosecco’s first “cru.” The 2007 juggles the acidity of crisp citrus, plus fresh-baked yeasty aromas and a solid core of peachy deliciousness. adamispumante.it
Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Extra Dry, “Miraval,” 2007
The Cosmo family has been making Prosecco here for 20 years. “Miraval” hails from the foothills of the alps in the Vittoria Veneto region, where grapes grown at an altitude of nearly 1,000 feet result in this floral, fruity wine with a balance of creamy richness and bright acidity. bellenda.it
“San Fermo,” Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, 2009
Bright citrus and a hint of sage on the nose. The clean and surprisingly dry palate has a good base of mineral punctuated by fine and lively perlage (bubbles). The body is steely, with lean and vibrant notes of apple and peach blossom.
Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut, NV
In 1993 Francesco Miotto brought in Paolo De Bortoli and Loris dall’Acqua to revive the Col Vetoraz estate (founded by the Miottos in 1838) with wines from one of the highest spots in Cartizze. This crisp brut shows lemon zest and mineral aromas and flavors, with a burst of orange blossom in a tight, crisp finish. colvetoraz.it
Sergio Spumante Extra Dry, “MO," NV
While this wine won’t qualify as a DOCG Prosecco because it’s a blend of 70 percent Prosecco based on a formula handed down by Francesco Mionetto, who founded the winery in 1887, we couldn’t pass up including it. For this signature bottle, Sergio Mionetto favors the “classic” style classified as extra dry, with a slightly higher sugar content than brut. Floral perfume of acacia and white peach, then baked apple and honeycomb, lead to a creamy, dazzling richness on the palate and a mouthwatering finish. mionetto.it
Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Extra Dry, “Particella 68,” NV
Sisters Antonella and Ersiliana Bronca, with Antonella’s winemaker husband, Pietro, and Ersiliana’s budding enologist daughter, Elisa, produce some of the purest Prosecco out there. The “68 refers to the parcel of nearly inaccessible hillside vineyard used for this stunningly creamy wine brimming with notes of baked apple and grapefruit gratin. sorellebranca.it
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