What makes it Prosecco?

Prosecco is a simple usually fully sparkling (Spumante) wine made in Northern Italy around the Veneto.  Predominantly made from Glera, with a small percentage of other varieties permitted in a blend – Prosecco is Italy’s largest individual wine region with nearly 35000 acres under vine.

Over 300 million bottles of this fizzy beverage are made annually… that is A LOT of bubbles!

This is a wine that has soared to huge heights in popularit.  Winemakers all over the world began piggy backing on the popularity of the “Prosecco” grape, and producing their own copycat wines. Unfortunately this began to dilute the regional identity of Prosecco, and in 2009 the Italians responded with a legal name change for the Prosecco grape to Glera. The region in Italy in which the wine was produced was given DOC status and named “Prosecco” as a protected area of origin, making it then illegal for other areas to name their now “Glera” wine Prosecco. Today, only wines grown, and produced in the Veneto from Glera and a group of indiginous varieties, following set production rules, may call themselves Prosecco.

Most basic Prosecco is inexpensive and made from grapes grown in the highest of possible yields in Italy over a very large area. The best Proseccos come from the lower yielding areas in the DOCG region between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.  Even higher in quality are the producers that hold ‘rive’ aka “hillside” land, and make up a small group of small-production Proseccos that can be dated via vintage. These are found in the Cru sites of Cortizze.  Some of the Cru wines will see vintage years, while others will not.  It is rare to see these wines for purchase outside of Italy.  So if you are planning a trip… plan to bring some back with you!

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One of our favourite wines that can be found in the Alberta market is Vaporetto.  The producer Bisol Jeio – who makes Vaporetto, is one of these that offers small vintage specific wines, and has many plantings in Cortizze.  However, most of the Cortizze wine is indeed kept for the Italians, and Vaporetto No. 8 (tasting notes in our feature!) is one of their wines made in cooperative with Bisol and the local alliance of growers – meaning that a local cooperative supplies the grapes to Bisol from an area much broader than Cortizze, but still in Valdobbiadene.  It is a non vintage wine, like most high production Prosecco, but the care and attention to detail in production place it higher than many in terms of quality for price.

Once upon a time, most prosecco was only lightly fizzy – known by the Italians as Frizante. But now fashion has turned to the more popular fully sparkling Spumante version.

These wines are usually always dry (Brut) or Extra Dry with a fruitiness largely imparted by the dosage ( top up mixture of juice and sugar) at bottling. Made via the Charmat method of production, the wine sees little contact with yeast lees – and so autolytic characteristics are usually never present. One exception to this is the natural wines of Prosecco Col Fondo, though these are harder to find in local markets. These wines are carbonated by yeast in the bottle – and the sediment is included at time of purchase!

Fun Fact: Want a ‘true’ Bellini (Great Recipe Here!)– Traditionally the Bellini was invented in the Venice back in the 1930s – and was made by combining white peach juice (not yellow!) with prosecco. By today’s standards in North America, any sparkling wine goes when making a Bellini – but if you really want the ‘real deal’ grab one when you visit the Veneto! And when you order one there, do not expect a slushy drink…

When all of these factors come together… large area, 300 million bottles – the picture becomes clearer as to why Prosecco is drunk regularly, every afternoon on the patios in Venice. This is a delicious, refreshing, quaffable sparkling wine, that is not meant to be taken too seriously or preciously. I feel too often we treat sparkling wines as something only to be enjoyed for a specific special occasion. Which honestly, does many wines a dis service! The wines are meant for immediate drinking upon release, and are not age worthy – they will fall apart on you.

So go ahead, celebrate everyday life – and enjoy!


      –   Kathryn

Note:  We regularily feature Vaporetto at many Vine Life Wine Club events!  Get info on the club to join us in sampling this and many other bubbles, on the regular, with fantastic wine loving friends!


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