Wine Culture Magazine

The purest, most elegant expression of this fizzy favourite comes from Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG

The Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, the birthplace of prosecco, has a UNESCO World Heritage designation. Arcangelo Piai photo

Up in Italy’s mountainous northeastern corner is a wine region like no other. So steep it must be picked by hand, with a history that dates back centuries and a rare UNESCO World Heritage designation, Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG is the birthplace of one of the world’s best-loved sparkling wines: Prosecco.

Today Prosecco is produced across the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions and enjoyed around the world. But the wine that is produced here, between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene 50 kilometres north of Venice and 100 kilometres from the Dolomite Mountains, is unique. It is officially known as Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG or Prosecco Superiore for short.

(The DOCG label represents a controlled and guaranteed designation of origin. This means that all regulations have been followed regarding everything from the type of grapes to the chemical analysis of the finished product—and implies that the product is of the highest quality. Prosecco in general is considered a DOC wine, or controlled designation of origin, wine.)

To be considered Prosecco Superiore, the wine must contain at least 85 per cent Glera grapes and be made in the spumante style using the Charmat or Martinotti method that was developed in the region. And, of course, it must be grown here, in these beautiful hog-backed hills with their patchwork of narrow, vertiginously terraced vineyards known as “ciglione,” and handcrafted as it has been done for centuries. Indeed, although the wine grown here has only been called “Prosecco” since the late 18th century, wine has been grown in these hills since ancient times.

The region’s vineyards are on such steep terrain that they must be picked by hand. Supplied photo

Conegliano is also home to Italy’s first school of winemaking, established in 1876, and the region boasts the country’s first tourist wine route, the Prosecco Road, established in 1966. It received its DOC designation in 1969, DOCG in 2009 and, in 2019, UNESCO recognized how centuries of meticulous and heroic labour created a cultural landscape of unique worth, and an expression of traditional and hand-picked harvest.

But what about the wine itself?

Prosecco Superiore is not just a fizzy wine for celebration; it is also an exceptional and versatile food wine. The Charmat method preserves the fresh fruit flavours of the grapes, which are expressed in four styles. Extra brut is the driest and most modern in style; brut is rich in citrus and vegetal notes; extra dry is the most traditional of styles, with flavours of apples and pears, and ideal as an aperitif; dry is the sweetest style, soft and juicy with hints of white peach, an ideal partner for spicy foods.

Prosecco Superiore pairs easily with seafood, rice dishes, mushrooms, crudités, delicate meat sauces, cheeses and many Asian dishes. Light and bright with mouth-watering acidity, it is an ideal aperitif and a festively celebratory wine. It is also the perfect bottle to open for all fall and winter’s festive occasions—truly a superior bubble.


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