CAMBRIDGE, MA – There’s more than one kind of Prosecco – that’s how a recent Boston Wine School seminar from Jonathan Soroff that we attended at The Middle Gray about Conegliano Valdobbiadene wines began. Chef Alan Tardi, who did the presentation, became interested in wine as a chef and restaurateur in Manhattan and has written numerous articles. He learned about Prosecco in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene region of Italy and became the first ever US Ambassador of that region in 2015, an area only an hour by car from Venice’s Marco Polo airport.
The region benefits from sandy soils, cooling Adriatic breezes and a moderate climate. In 1876 it became home for the first enology school in Italy which is said to have revolutionized Italian sparkling wine production when it developed The Italian Method which used pressurized temperature-controlled tanks (or autoclaves) to preserve the aromas of wines. To qualify for DOCG status, the wines must contain 85% Glera, a local grape, with the balance made up of other approved varieties.
Steep hillside vineyards can only be hand-harvested and there are many small family plots that supply grapes to 183 wineries. The Prosecco Superiore wines range from dry to sweet with three levels of dryness – Brut, the driest, with 0-12 g/l residual sugar, Extra Dry with 12 to 17 g/l and Dry, the sweetest, with 17-32 g/l residual sugar.
Steep slopes make the land hard to work and mechanical cultivation virtually impossible. The Glera grape variety is the basis of the Conegliano Valdobiaddene wines which are known for they elegance, pale straw color, light body and fruity/floral nose. People think Prosecco was created in the 1970’s, Tardi notes, but it goes back much further to an old grape from Eastern Europe – Slovenia – which became Trieste, now part of Italy.
Many of the wines are elegant, soft and spicy, or fresh and floral on the palate.There are three different types – sparkling, fizzy and still. All make a delicious addition to a wine cellar.
Interestingly, we realized in retrospect that one of wines at the tasting was the Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG Brut NV, very moderately priced (around $15) and fresh, floral, fruity and elegant, at an earlier tasting this fall at Il Molo in Boston’s North End by The Sorting Table. At the time, we were struck by what a great addition it would make to a restaurant’s wine list or wine by the glass list, offering value to diners and restaurateurs alike.