Prosecco is a big subject, much of which can be dealt with swiftly. There is a vast lake of inexpensive, often bland, sparkling wine from the vineyards of the plains which now can be called Prosecco DOC. It can come from nine entire provinces in Friuli or, mainly, the Veneto – thus the new Prosecco DOC stretches more than 200 kilometres from Trieste to Vicenza. As one grower in the hills puts it: every Wednesday there is a bulk wine market in Treviso. The local grower-winemakers come with their wine samples and the big merchants will buy as many tanks of simple still wine as they need when they need them – no tiresome vineyards to tend, no need for expensive winemaking equipment which you only use for one month of the year or storage facility, in fact no skill required up to this point. The negociant will then do the second phase fermentation in the autoclaves and sell the product. In this way, millions of inexpensive bottles are made from basic wine from high yielding vineyards from the plain. The producer of top quality sparkling wine in the hills has a very different way of working – starting with the beautiful if demanding hill-side vineyards. The pictures below were taken in the varying weather conditions of a couple of days in the spring of 2012.
By contrast to the bulk production on the plain, the top wines come from the hilly area between the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, either of which can now appear on the new DOCG with the helpful tag of ‘Prosecco Superiore’. The landscape here is dense with vines. On the lower slopes every inch is covered with vineyards, dotted with old houses, many now in a state of disrepair. On the higher slopes the best expositions are still very much in use with vines clinging to the precipitous inclines – as do those who tend them. From these slopes the wines can be of real complexity and class – and of course cost twice as much or more as all the work has to be by hand. The producers featured here are all in the Valdobbiadene heartland of quality Prosecco Superiore.