Friday, August 27, 2010

Prosecco Cycling Classic

The Prosecco Cycling Classic (a granfondo) is scheduled for October 3rd, 2010, beginning and finishing in Piazza Marconi, in Valdobbiadene (Treviso). Valdobbiadene is in the heart of the Prosecco wine making region.

The event offers two courses, the long-distance (125 km) and the medium-distance (65 km).

Video of the 2009 event:

More about Prosecco wine from this informative article that appeared in

Prosecco takes on a serious tone

By Jason Wilson, Special to The Chronicle, May 09, 2010

Valdobbiadene , — Italy - Can we have a serious discussion about prosecco?

I know, I know. You don't take prosecco seriously. It's just something light and bubbly to pop open and sip on a warm, sunny afternoon. It's a summer fling, a harmless flirtation. It's definitely not all status-y like that uptight thang, Champagne.

But maybe the prosecco we've been enjoying in this country has been a little ... well, too cheap? Maybe it isn't even real Italian prosecco at all - they've been making "prosecco" in places like Australia and Brazil.

"There's a lot of bad prosecco out there," says Ceri Smith of Biondivino, which has one of the Bay Area's largest prosecco selections. We probably reached the nadir two years ago when Paris Hilton went on David Letterman to promote a prosecco (from Austria) in a can. "Italian champagne. In a can?" asked Letterman, who shook up prosecco-in-the-can to see if it would explode. It did.

"It's sexy," Hilton said.

Hilton got the attention of people who take prosecco very seriously: those in the region of the Veneto flanked by the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, the historic heart of prosecco, who realized they needed to combat the flood of poor-quality prosecco.

"I really thank Paris Hilton," said Matteo Bisol, the third generation making Bisol prosecco. "That was when everyone here realized we had a problem. Without Paris Hilton, we wouldn't have a DOCG."

Last August, Conegliano-Valdobbiadene was bestowed with the prestigious Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, Italy's highest wine quality designation, with strict controls, particularly on grape yields. Can't get any more serious than that, can it?

The change also officially renames the grape itself from prosecco to its ancient name of glera - effectively making "Prosecco" a place name and not a varietal. Since the changes created a larger designation, or DOC, in nine surrounding provinces, prosecco, by EU law, can now only come from northeastern Italy.

Time will tell if American consumers will be able to ask for that tongue-twister - Congeliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore - in their local wine shop. Even growers are still getting used to the new nomenclature.

"My grandfather never called it glera," said Franco Adami, president of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene producer consortium, with a chuckle. "But you have people all over the world who want to plant 'prosecco,' so we have to protect it."

It is amazing how many tiny vineyards throughout the region are planted on incredibly steep slopes in the Alps foothills. But more astonishing is just how much consistently better the DOCG proseccos are compared to most of what can be found in the United States. You'll end up spending about $3 to $5 more for a bottle from Conegliano Valdobbiadene, but you'll usually notice an immediate difference - crisper, less cloying flavors and more elegant aromas.

This, of course, may be a difficult story to tell an audience that has grown accustomed to paying $11.99 a bottle for what they consider a fun wine. "I would hate to see prosecco price itself out of the market," said Smith, noting that $25 is probably its price ceiling.

"When I speak with winemakers in other parts of the world, they say, 'Ah, it's not a complex wine. It's a simple wine.' But this is not true at all," said Stefano Gava, the 28-year-old winemaker at Villa Sandi. "This is not a forgiving grape like Chardonnay. Making glera, making sparkling wine, is difficult. This is not a full-bodied grape. It's so delicate. If you make one mistake, you have a big problem."

One major reason the wine world looks down upon prosecco is that, unlike Champagne, prosecco uses the Charmat method to make it bubbly; secondary fermentation takes place in a stainless steel autoclave rather than in the bottle. Yet a number of producers, such as Bisol and Bellenda, are experimenting with "metodo classico" prosecco.

"One method is not better than the other," says Umberto Cosmo of Bellenda. "The Charmat gives you the beautiful primary fruit aromas. The classic method gives you the soul of the grape."

A number of producers are also experimenting with extended contact between grape skins and juice, something that they believe will allow the wines to age more successfully. This runs counter to the perception that prosecco is something to drink young.

"People say you have to drink it within a year or two, but it's not true," said Matteo Bisol.

Indeed, I tasted some 1990 and 2000 vintages at Nino Franco. As fine prosecco ages, it takes on an attractive amber color and develops a Sauternes-like nose - yet there's still a little hint of effervescence left.

Prosecco production is still a relatively young phenomenon. Even until the mid-20th century, most glera was grown as a table wine, with sparkling wines only gaining popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. The original DOC dates only to 1969. All the experimentation could mean the best prosecco expressions are still to come, on a small scale.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this. I'll be doing some rides from Vittorio Veneto to Valdobbiadene this fall. I was looking down at the zone from Monte Pizzoc, and it's alluring, with rolling hills, Lago Revine, and connecting routes over the ridge to Belluno-Feltre road.