Winefriend by David Way

Writing about the wines of Piemonte, Italy and France

Three days in the lovely Prosecco DOCG hills

Not all Prosecco is the same. The two most favoured regions are those in the hills. These are the better-known and original Prosecco, now called Valdobbiadene Conegliano Processo Superiore DOCG (Prosecco Superiore for short) and the nearby hills of Asolo DOCG. Altitude (and therefore better day-night temperature difference), poorer soils, steep slopes (better exposure to the sun) and virtually all work by hand mean that finer, more delicately nuanced wines can be made here than on the plains below. I have visited here three times before but the landscape, the quality of the top wines and the intrepid producers who grow vines on these steep slopes never ceases to amaze me! Thank you to the Prosecco Superiore consortium for organising this visit with a group of mainly UK-based educators and wine experts.

Day 1

What a great day to start our visit to the Prosecco Superiore hills! A superb technical overview from Diego Tomasi, eminent scientist and new director of the consortium, plus a great meeting with younger, dynamic growers. Then an amazing visit to the vineyards and winery of Nino Franco. It was a privilege to walk in the vineyards with some 100-year-old vines and then taste Prosecco vintages back to 1992, no that’s not a typo. The best Prosecco can really improve in the bottle over some decades; this challenges all our preconceptions!

Day 2

Day 2 in Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore started with a fine line up of the elegant wines of Le Colture with Veronica Ruggeri. They own steep vineyards above the winery in Santa Stefano. Then the group moved on for a rare chance to taste both the Prosecco and the local varieties at Conte Collalto. Many of the Manzoni crossings were trialled here and the successful ones, e.g. Manzoni Bianco are grown on this historic estate. Of the reds, Wildbacher, probably of Styrian origin, really shone for its perfumed nose and dark cherry spicy fruit. Lunch featured the abundant local chestnuts, which are properly celebrated at this time of year.

Day 3

The final day in the Prosecco hills showcased two, massively contrasting, quality wineries. First, low-intervention grape growing and natural winemaking at Ca’ dei Zago. The star attractions here include the cows, fed by the hay grown between rows of vines with their manure being used to fertilise the vines, a virtuous circle. All the wines here are traditional method or col fondo (ancestral method), combining Glera’s fruit with creamy toasty notes.

By contrast, the excellent co-operative Val d’Oca produces textbook examples of Prosecco Superiore DOCG at scale. They make wine from the fruit of 30 percent of the top vineyard zones, known as Rive. This final day encapsulated some of the diversity of the Prosecco Superiore hills.

Thank you to the Prosecco Superiore consorzio, Michele Shah, Sarah Abbott and all the wineries for a splendid trip.

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