2020 is going down as a most difficult year and not only because of Covid. Outrageous weather events, fires, explosions and so much more happened across the world. Thankfully my start was fantastic and the finish perhaps even better with sparkling wines from the Veneto’s prized Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
There’s a huge difference between DOCG and DOC Prosecco with the former from a smaller, persistently hilly area in and between the towns of Conegliano and Vadobbiadene. And I fear the former is widely misunderstood.
We meandered through the UNESCO world Heritage region with steep hills and multiple microclimates then tasted wines from many of the 15 small towns it touches. We were in Rive and Cartizze land. Gosh, has it been three years already?
Last week I wrote about one wine: La Tordera and their Otreval Rive di Guia Prosecco as part of the Italian Food, Wine and Travel group ‘Sparkling Wines for the Holidays’ event (head there for several articles on the topic!) Today I share more details about the Prosecco Superiore region and two additional wines: one a Rive, the other a Cartizze.
Disclosure: These are media samples- compensation was not received for this article and all thoughts are genuinely my own.
Crus and Rives – Within the Prosecco hierarchical quality pyramid, the top level, sometimes referred to as ‘cru’ is known as Cartizze, followed by Rive, which come from 43 select communes (named villages) or rive in Italian. Both areas are in the Valdobbiadene zone have unique microclimates. I argue many rive are as good as cru level Prosecco!
For information on the where and what, the quality pyramid, and the sweetness scale of Prosecco I refer you to my article last week.
Digging Deeper – Components of Conegliano Valdobbiadene
While the entire Prosecco region is extremely old with winemaking dating back to the Romans, it’s the Superiore area that’s less homogenous. Here you find traditions, a way of doing things based on years of elder experience. Significant landscapes that meant everything was done by hand. Relying on sight, sound and natural remedy to maintain the biodiversity was how vine growers operated. A true cultural landscape.
Technology brought mechanization and chemical remedies. Yet some held on to their cultural heritage.
Today the Consorzio (Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco), a private body comprised of roughly 3,000 vine-growers and wineries, bottling companies and others involved in winemaking work together concentrating on area protection and honoring the cultural heritage.
One recent success was their banning the use of herbicide glyphosate, and supporting integrated pest control and disease management. They do this by providing instruments to implement and support growers with the approach. They also launched the S.Q.N.P.I. (Sistema Qualità Nazionale Produzione Integrata) certification project that works to reduce use of synthetic chemical substances to a minimum in vineyards and regulates fertilization practices. When certified one becomes ‘bee friendly’.
Many wineries here are taking an active role implementing these agricultural measures plus more. Take for instance Bortolomiol in Valdobbiadene.
Giuliano Bortolomiol began rescuing vineyards after World War II around Valdobbiadene knowing the area’s potential.
”He has always believed in the quality and future of designation of origin Prosecco to which he has dedicated his whole life. In turn, the founder’s daughters, Maria Elena, Elvira, Luisa and Giuliana have made this mission their own and, together with their mother Ottavia, have invested resources and energy in ensuring product quality and maintaining the company’s strong links with the land and its history.” Bartolomiol website
Today his four daughters run the operation, implementing several sustainability measures including the Green Mark Management Protocol, organic agriculture, renovating with the environment in mind (ecological building materials, solar panels, reduced water use), restoring cultural sites, and social items. They work with the West African organization Ricerca e Cooperazione to train women how to use area natural resources to improve the quality of life for them, their families and communities. In addition, for each bottle of a specially labeled Prosecco sold, they donate to the Wine for Life Comunitá di Sant’Egidio initiative dealing with AIDS care in sub-Saharan Africa. A shout out to these ladies for reaching beyond the vineyard!
Another winery in Valdobbiadene also engaged in sustainability efforts is La Farra. They adopted the environment-friendly agronomic and plant health practices program in the ‘Viticultural Protocol’ of the Consortium which forbids, among other things, the use of chemical herbicides. And they are SQNPI certificated by Valoritalia.
La Farra family member and Export Manager Adamaria Nardi explained doing this represents a basic cultural principle for them because they and their collaborators live and work in the middle of the vineyards. Adding to the above, they compost and use all vineyard by-product, and use cellar wastewater for irrigation in critical water years.
Prior to this dig, I wasn’t aware how forward thinking the Consortium, growers and wineries are when it comes to thinking about the environment. With a ‘clean’ conscience I happily tip my glass to the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG!
The family owns 4.5 hectares and secures additional grapes from other local growers.
A pale, silvery straw color reveals fine bubbles and white lily, apple, peach, mixed citrus aromas. The palate is a balanced play between the tingling and fresh acidity and lightly creamy texture. Ginger and green apple hover over a citrus background with that lingers.
ABV 12% | SRP $20
We enjoyed this as an aperitivo and can also see it working nicely with shell fish and white fish including Ginger Miso Petrale from Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
Mark’s two-word description: elegant yet vivacious.
La Farra Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Rive di Farra di Soligo Extra Dry DOCG | Millesimato 2019
Pale gold in color with subtle white floral (Wisteria), pear, apple, and quince. Fine bubbles and light on its feet, a delicious balance of tangy fruit and tart acidity finishing with a blush of crushed almond.
ABV 11.5% | SRP $17
Although this Prosecco is Extra Dry (required to have 12 to 17 g/L residual sugar), it’s hardly detectable due to lively acidity. Mark’s two-word description: zippy yet elegant
Pairing (recipe below):
Given the small increase in price from DOC, I definitely notice an increase in quality climbing up to Prosecco Superiore wines. In fact it’s my aperitivo of choice to kick off our lock down Christmas eve! Cin cin and happy holidays!
- 1 tablespoon avocado or olive oil
- 2 to 3 shallots, chopped
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- ½ to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (start with ½, taste and add more if needed)
- 1 bunch swiss chard, washed, ribs removed, greens torn into silver dollar-sized pieces
- ¼ of a lemon
- sea salt to taste
- 1 can of Aduki beans, drained (save liquid)
- 1 cup of vegetable broth
- 2 to 4 eggs
- ¼ cup gorgonzola or another soft blue vein cheese
- In a sauté pan over medium heat, sweat the shallots in the oil until translucent (about 3-5 mins).
- Add the smoked paprika, garlic and stir.
- Add the swiss chard, stir to combine; cover and cook a few minutes then stir, cover again. Repeat a few times until the chard is softening.
- Squeeze the lemon juice over the chard and stir.
- Add the Aduki beans and stir lightly.
- Note you might need to turn the heat to medium-low at this point.
- Add ¾ of the vegetable broth. You want there to be about ¼-inch of broth at the bottom, not more.
- When it is hot, make small spots on top of the chard to crack the eggs into. Cover and let cook until the eggs are poached to your liking, from 2-4 minutes depending on your heat level.
- When done, remove pan from heat. Add dallops of the cheese, placing them just under the chard so they melt.
- Serve immediately.
Winery Links and Sources:
- La Farra
- Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Consorzio
- Informational article about rive Prosecco from Susan Gordon
- If you visit check out the Strada del Prosecco