Where is the Prosecco DOC?
There are actually 9 provinces in the Prosecco DOC. They are located in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia areas in north-east Italy. The area is bordered by the Dolomite mountains and the Adriatic Sea.
The 9 provinces are; Treviso, Pordenone, Udine, Gorizia, Trieste, Venezia, Padova, Vicenza and Belluno. The majority of Prosecco is produced in Treviso but there are some exceptional producers in the other provinces especially Pordenone.
Where is the Prosecco DOCG?
The Prosecco DOCG’s wines are grown in much smaller, restricted areas and are always hand harvested. The most famous is the Conegliano Valdobbiadene where any of the most famous and well-respected wines are produced. The grapes are grown on incredibly steep slopes with very stony soils. The other area is the Asolo Prosecco area. This is a smaller again with very steep slopes.
The names to look out for are, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG and Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG which will always be displayed on a blue official strip around the neck of the bottle.
How is Prosecco made?
Prosecco is made by the Charmat or Martinotti, tank method. This means that first a still base wine is created from the grapes. After the base wine has been made and it has reached around 10.5%abv then the second fermentation can begin. Unlike Champagne or Cava, the second fermentation occurs in a pressurised tank rather than the bottle. This pressurised tank retains the carbon dioxide that is created by the fermentation holding in the signature fizz. The final wine is then bottled under pressure. The second fermentation is shorter than traditional method wines so there is only a small amount of lees (yeast) contact and autolytic flavours don’t commonly develop. The wine is focused on fresh, fruity and floral flavours rather than biscuity, bread notes.
Glera is the main grape variety used in Prosecco and it must be used in a minimum of 85%.
Many people don’t realise there are actually 6 other grape varieties which can also be included in the blend up to a maximum of 15%. These are:
Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir)
This is the main grape used in Prosecco and must be used in a minimum of 85%. Often it is the solo variety in Prosecco. It was previously known as Prosecco but this name is no longer legally permitted, however, some Australian produces still call it by this name. It is mostly grown in north-east Italy and mainly for the production of Prosecco. Generally, it produces semi-aromatic wines with floral, stone fruit and pear flavours.
The less known varieties are;
Verdiso is a local Italian white grape variety which is mainly grown in Treviso, one of the provinces in Veneto.
Perera is a white grape variety which is also called Pevarise. It was devastated by phylloxera and the plantings never recovered. It is very fruity and has a distinctive pear like aroma.
Bianchetta Trevigiana is white grape variety grown in the Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto regions in northern Italy. It is rare and plantings are decreasing. It is used in blends as it adds good acidity.
Glera Lunga this is known as a lesser mutation of Glera. It was previously called Prosecco Lungo. It is similar in the aroma but less floral than the far more widely planted Glera.
The taste of Prosecco.
Prosecco is focused on highlighting the grapes natural fruity flavours. There are commonly gentle pear and stone fruit flavours and almost always citrus notes. Prosecco is produced in a range of sweetness levels but the most common levels are Brut and Extra Dry. Brut is common for many sparkling wines (0-12g/l residual sugar) whereas Extra Dry is actually sweeter than Brut being between 17 and 32g/l residual sugar. Residual sugar is the amount of sugar left in the wine after the fermentation. This may seem like a large amount of sugar but the crisp acid levels in the wine balance this sugar.