When it comes to the sparkling wines of the world, Prosecco from Italy is sure to come to mind.
This month, Camilla Mann of Culinary Cam hosts the Italian Food Wine Travel group of writers focus on Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, and celebrating the 10th anniversary of the establishment of three DOCG for Prosecco: Asolo, Conegliano, and Valdobbine AND the 50th anniversary of the Prosecco DOC (phonetic spelling: co-NEG-lee-anno VAL-doe-bee-a-day-nay Pro-SEC-oh Su-pare-ee-or–AY).
As I learned in my VinItaly Wine Ambassador Course in February 2019,
Glera, the grape used for Prosecco, is the most planted white grape in Italy.
Prosecco is also the largest appellation in Italy.
In 2018, about 600 million bottles were produced — almost twice as many bottles as champagne (about 315 million). While some have predicted that we have reached “peak Prosecco,” the market is expected to continue to grow and expand, especially in the US. Currently much more Prosecco is enjoyed in the UK than in the US: 21% of the Prosecco exported goes to the UK with only 9% going to the US.
Wine grapes have grown here since ancient times, and a Roman stone documents celebrating the grape harvest. The word “Prosecco” shows up in a text in 1754. Until 1880, the sparkling wine method developed in England and Champagne was used with the glera grape, and in 1924 that the Prosecco name came about following the development of Martinotti of the tank methods for sparkling wines which is less labor intensive as it does not require riddling or disgorgement yet retains primary aromas and flavors of the grapes, high quality and with strong varietal aromas and flavors. The resulting bubbles are fruity and with little evidence of the lees; the wines lack that yeasty quality typical of wines from Champagne.
Think PROSECCO is the name of a grape? Nope! It’s actually the name of the region in Veneto and Fruilli in north-eastern Italy where the grape glera is most famously made into sparkling wine more commonly known as Prosecco. While the area is smaller than Champagne, almost twice as many bottles are made in Prosecco.
WHAT MAKES DOCG Prosecco Superior?
While DOC Prosecco is made in nine provinces in Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions in the Northeast of Italy (marked in tan), Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG only comes from Veneto in the Treviso province between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene; the only other DOCG is the nearby smaller Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG.
- The biggest similarity between Prosecco DOC and Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG?
Both are made from the glera grape.
- The biggest difference?
Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG is grown on hillsides and DOC is flatland viticulture, and this is what leads to the difference in quality– it is truly Superior.
In the sixth century, San Venanzio Fortunato, Bishop of Poitiers described Valdobbiadene as “Quo Vineta Vernatur, Sub Monte Jugo Calvo, Quo Viror Umbrosus Tegit Sicca Metalla” or translated into English, “an area where vines bud below the high mountains.”
Although glera, the grape used in Prosecco, is not considered an aromatic variety, it displays concentrated varietal aromas and some have high levels of turpenes – when grown under the correct conditions, that is, mountainside.
On the steeper slopes toward the western alpine side, cold air drains down the hill so the DOCG is a cooler micro climate; the cooler air is heavier and drains downslope. This allows the accumulation of aromatics; the turpenes have a chance to develop depending on temperatures. There are also soil differences and other characteristics plus aspect and other macro climate elements that make the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG so significantly better.
- Glacial morraines in the northern part make those wines more delicate and softer
- Grapes grown on miocene marls are more fruity and floral and
- Conglomerate soils that are clay dominated tend to generate mineral or vegetal notes.
All wineries that produce Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG wine agree to the Viticultural Protocol (read it for yourself here) which says
they eliminated the use of Glyphosate (Round-Up) from 1st January 2019.
It also stresses the need for integrated pest and disease control and identifies the instruments for putting that into action. What is most important is their unity in achieving these goals as they work together to make excellent wine that not only does no harm but is beneficial.
What pairs with Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG?
Like other dry sparkling wines, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG goes well with fried foods, seafood, and so much more. We turned to the foods of the region for insights.
Think Italy is only about PASTA?
Not so in northern Italy. For example, Veneto is all about rice (the conditions are so ideal for growing it), followed by polenta. Veneto is also coastal, with Venice one of the world’s most famous seaside cities. Fried calamari and other fried seafood is very popular and served on polenta. Pumpkin stuffed pasta is popular too, and for another vegetable, asparagus, both white and green.
This research led Sue to make shrimp egg rolls and a mushroom risotto stuffed in acorn squash along with fried calamari and roasted asparagus. We had the melon prosciutto at a recent LA Wine Writers luncheon at Napa Valley Grill in Brentwood and knew we wanted to include this dish in our menu to pair with Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. We were disappointed that the acorn squash stuffed risotto wasn’t a better pairing, but everything else went from well to incredible.
Sue’s shrimp egg rolls with her homemade plum BBQ sauce, cheesy crab bites, melon prosciutto bites.
- Baked acorn squash stuffed with mushroom risotto made in the instant pot (recipe follows)
- Oven roasted asparagus
- Fried calamari with lemon butter caper sauce (recipe follows)
About the egg rolls, Sue says “I basically follow the recipe on the back of the egg roll wrapper package, but use shrimp instead of pork sausage. Egg rolls are super easy to make, and are great for a party because they make a large amount that will feed many.” Sue forgot the sauce she’d planned to use, but last summer she made a plum BBQ sauce which we used instead — SO GOOD! (Sorry no recipe!) We also used this plum BBQ sauce as a basis for pulled pork for this blog post.
2018 – Bortolomiol – Bandarossa – Millesimato – Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
11.5% alcohol – SRP ?
As one of the founders of the Prosecco Wine Fraternity in 1945, Giuliano Bortolomiol is an important figure in the world of the Prosecco. In 1949, he founded his winery and in 1960, he made the first Prosecco Brut. His daughters Maria Elena, Elvira, Luisa and Giuliana carry on his legacy of innovation, guided by environmental sustainability. Their headquarters of “Parco della Filandetta” is a renovated ancient spinning mill in the heart of Valdobbiadene where visitors (by appointment) find the winery, a tasting room, and an organic vineyard.
Color/Appearance: Platinum, very bubbly, very fizzy; a Prosecco glass really shows off the bubbles.
Nose: White peach, white nectarine, light white florals, rose petals.
Palate: The bubbles are super lively and fine on the palate. The white nectarine carries across from the nose to the palate. Fruit forward but not too sweet, jackfruit. The fizziness lingers on the palate, with a finish of lemon lime that is present, but does not linger for very long. There are botanicals on the finish as well.
Pairing: I felt this wine was the best party pleaser wine of the three. It loves the egg rolls and the crab cheese bites. Sue loved this wine with the melon prosciutto bites. We were not crazy about oysters and this wine but it was perfect with our calamari dish. The sweetness tamed the lemon in the sauce, and the lemon tamed the sweetness of the wine.
The chemistry of the wine and the calamari dish was right on!
This Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG wine did not pair that well with our acorn squash stuffed with mushroom risotto, but went well with the oven roasted asparagus– if we dipped our asparagus in the lemon caper sauce!
Sanfeletto – Bosco Di Fratta – Valdobbiadene – Prosecco Superiore DOCG. – Millesimato – 11.5% alcohol SRP around $20
This is a completely different wine than the first. Very interestingly shaped bottle for a Prosecco.
Color/Appearance: Extremely pale yellow, soft delicate bubbles, soft foaminess on top. The perlage is persistent.
Nose: Citrus and minerals with a bit of fresh cut grass. After opening the oysters, I felt that this wine smells like oysters.
Palate: Dry, minerals. Not very fruit forward at all. It is more about the minerals. Dry and clean. Slate. It is much closer to Champagne without the yeasty characteristics. Nicely balanced acidity
Pairing: Great with the egg rolls. Sue even liked it better with the cheesy crab bites. I wanted this wine with moo shoo pork and egg rolls. Great Chinese take out wine!
Great for a romantic evening at home. Good with the prosciutto melon bites, but Sue did not think it was anything to write home about. The oysters and wine just works together. We do oysters with a lot of wines, and this was an exceptional pairing. They both brought out amazing complexities. Out of the ball park with our calamari with lemon butter caper sauce. It paired well with the oven roasted asparagus, which can be a tough pair. Then when you dip the asparagus in the lemon caper sauce, it brings it to another plane.
Sommariva Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
imported by Kermit Lynch
After growing up growing grapes as the family business, in the 1970s, Caterino and wife Ursula Sommariva saw the potential for Glera and purchased hillside vineyards to make Prosecco. They added more and more adjacent land for vineyards putting them in a great position to take advantage of the recognition that Prosecco achieved in Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in the late ‘80s. Their daughter Cinzia saw how difficult it was and studied marketing but discovered her own passion for winemaking, and returned to work with them; she is now a partner in their family enterprise.
The Sommarivas follow “eco-friendly practices in the vineyards, harvesting manually, and keeping a very close watch over the vinification process while many of their neighbors settle for easier methods and mediocre wine. These are perfectionists who only sit back once the work is done and it’s time to enjoy the delightfully fresh, elegant fruits of their labor.” They only produce 15,000 cases per year.
Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut:
• Vines are sustainably farmed, the equivalent of lutte raisonnée in France.
• Grapes are “Balby” selection
• Hand harvesting
• All vinification in stainless steel
• Grapes are de-stemmed and gently pressed, then the must is left at 48-50°F for about 12 hours to allow the heavy deposit to settle; the clear must is then drawn off and fermented
• Fermentation lasts for 15-20 days
• Yeasts and sugar are added to trigger the second fermentation
Color/Appearance: White gold, platinum, lively bubbles with a beautiful sea foam at the top of the glass.
Nose: Very subtle. It reminded Sue of a lemon meringue pie.
Palate: The bubbles are persistent on the palate. There is acidity on the tip of the tongue and in the gums. It coats and hangs on to the palate. Clean and refreshing.
Pairing: Really nice with the shrimp egg roll. It does not fight with the sweetness of the plum BBQ sauce. Went well with the crab cheese balls, also great with the melon prosciutto bites. What a great appetizer/party wine. Perfect oyster wine. Both Sue and I found it to be really great. The finish of both the oyster and the wine is very nice together. We did not put anything on the oysters — just straight out of the sea and the minerality went well with this wine. The sweetness of the squash and risotto dish brought out a sweetness in the wine which wasn’t present till then. With the calamari it was perfect. The wine cut through he tart lemon sauce over the top.
We don’t always get a chance to include the recipes or just offer up the links. But there’s been a lot of interest, especially with those that use the instant pot so I got Sue to write these down.
Sue’s Instant Pot Risotto Stuffed Acorn Squash
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T butter
- 1 large shallot
- 2 T chopped prosciutto
- 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 t kosher salt
- 3/4 t fresh ground pepper
- 1 t tarragon (use basil or sage if pairing with a red wine)
- 1 lb assorted mushrooms (we used shitake and oyster)
- 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
- Select the Sauce setting on the Instant Pot and heat the oil.
- Add the shallot, prosciutto, tarragon, and mushroom and sautéed for about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the rice and sauté for 1 minute
- Stir in the wine and sauce for about 2 minutes, just until the liquid has evaporated and begins to sizzle in the pot.
- Stir in the broth and add salt and pepper. Scrape down the sides of the pot to make sure all of the rice is submerged.
- Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release too Sealing. Press the Cancel button to reset the cooking program, then select the Manual setting and set the booking time for 10 minutes at high pressure.
- Let the pressure release naturally.
- Stir in the parmesan and butter.
- Stuff the baked acorn squash.
- Garnish with a bit of fresh grated parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.
Fried Calamari Steaks
- Pat dry calamari steaks
- Coat with favorite bread crumbs
- Fry in olive oil and butter mixture for about 2 to 3 minutes per side
- Pour lemon butter caper sauce over the top to serve
Lemon Butter Caper Sauce
- Melt 1 cube butter in a sauce pan,
- Add 1T flour and sauce until the butter is golden brown.
- Whisk in 1/2 cup lemon juice and 2 T capers (drained).
Read the invitation to participate in this month’s #ItalianFWT prompt here. Several of us in the group are grateful for samples of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG from the Consorzio of Prosecco Superiore DOCG coordinated by Liz of What’s in That Bottle?; we received different wines which you can read about below. Amazing! We are all writing about ‘Prosecco Superiore’ — the official name of Prosecco produced in the DOCG region made from the Glera grape. Read more about the Consorzio’s campaign here, and visit the Consorzio’s website here.
Join us for our twitter chat about Prosecco Superiore DOCG this Saturday July 6 at 8am by searching for the hashtag #ItalianFWT. We’ll also be using one or more of the following: #proseccosuperiore #coneglianovaldobbiadene #proseccodocg #proseccoelevated. You can also check out the Consorzio’s Insta handle: @proseccoCV — the Consorzio works to communicate the difference in quality of Prosecco DOCG.
- Wendy, of A Day in the Life on the Farm, says “Summertime and the Living is Easy with Prosecco DOCG in My Glass.”
- Jill, of L’Occasion, asks “Looking for Freshness? Check out Prosecco DOCG”.
- Rupal, the Syrah Queen, writes “Prosecco Elevated – Sipping Prosecco Superiore DOCG.”
- Jane, of Always Ravenous, pours “Prosecco Superiore Paired with Italian Small Bites.”
- Deanna, of Asian Test Kitchen, is “Pairing Cartizze Prosecco DOCG Beyond Oysters.”
- David, for Cooking Chat, says “Prosecco Superiore: The Special Italian Sparkling Lives Up
To Its Name.”
- Liz, of What’s in That Bottle, is “Discovering the Delights of Prosecco Superiore.”
- Jeff, of FoodWineClick!, goes “Beyond Apertif, Enjoy Prosecco Superiore at the Dinner Table.”
- Martin, of ENOFYLZ Wine Blog, encourages “Getting to Know Prosecco Superiore.”
- Pinny, of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings, is “Sipping the Day Away with Prosecco DOCG.”
- Gwendolyn, of Wine Predator, shares “3 Prosecco DOCG and Calamari with Lemon Caper Sauce.”
- Linda, of My Full Wine Glass, offers “Take-aways from a week of glorious Prosecco DOCG.”
- Jennifer, of Vino Travels, declares “Prosecco DOCG is more than just Prosecco.”
- Susannah, of Avvinare, is “Taking A Closer Look At Prosecco Superiore DOCG.”
Kevin, of Snarky Wine, declares “Vintage Prosecco DOCG: Quality Matters.”
Cindy, of Grape Experiences, posts “What a Girl Wants: Gourmet Popcorn and Prosecco DOC and DOCG.”
- Li, of The Wining Hour, asks you to “Step Up Your Game with Prosecco Superiore.”
- Host Camilla, of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, is “Climbing the Prosecco Hierarchy: To Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze with Steamed Clams, Smoked Scallops, and Capellini.”
Here are the questions that Host Cam generated for us to discuss on twitter at 11am eastern time on Saturday July 6. All are welcome to join the chat!
11:00 – Q1 Welcome! Where are you tweeting from? Introduce yourself, share a link to your blog. Visitors and wineries too! Remember to use the #ItalianFWT hashtag during our chat so we can all see what you’re posting. Grazie.
11:05 – Q2 How familiar were you with Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG before now? #ItalianFWT
I learned a lot about Prosecco in general and Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG in particular in February 2019 when I took the Vinitaly Wine Ambassador course. #proseccosuperiore #coneglianovaldobbiadene #proseccodocg #proseccoelevated.
11:10 – Q3 What did you learn in your research about Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore? #ItalianFWT
Glera, the grape used in Prosecco, is not an aromatic variety but displays concentrated varietal aromas when grown on mountainsides.
11:15 – Q4 Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore lies within the greater Prosecco region and it received its designation in 2009 as a DOCG. Have you tasted Prosecco Superiore next to Prosecco DOC? Differences? #ItalianFWT #proseccosuperiore #coneglianovaldobbiadene #proseccodocg #proseccoelevated.
I haven’t really had a chance to explore this.
11:20 – Q5 In the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, there are three main appellational categories: Cartizze, Rive and Conegliano Valdobbiadene and you can find wines from the Conegliano region alone or Valdobbiadene region as well. Which have you tasted? #ItalianFWT #proseccosuperiore #coneglianovaldobbiadene #proseccodocg #proseccoelevated.
11:25 – Q6 Cartizze is home to the very highest quality Prosecco Superiore. It is a tiny plot of 107 hectares owned by 100 growers. Did you taste any Cartizze Prosecco Superiore wines? Impressions? #ItalianFWT #proseccosuperiore #coneglianovaldobbiadene #proseccodocg #proseccoelevated.
11:30 – Q7 The heroic vineyards of Rive are the next level of quality, with 43 “rive” that are likened to “cru” level for quality. Which Rive wines did you try and what did you think? #ItalianFWT #proseccosuperiore #coneglianovaldobbiadene #proseccodocg #proseccoelevated.
11:35 – Q8 Sommeliers regard Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore as a great food wine. Did you try any polenta, risotto or other traditional Venetian foods with your wines? Share pictures and recipe links! #ItalianFWT #proseccosuperiore #coneglianovaldobbiadene #proseccodocg #proseccoelevated.
We were tempted to do fried calamari with polenta as is traditional but we went with mushroom risoto stuffed acorn squash. I suspect the polenta might have paired better.
11:40 – Q9 What are some different dishes or recipes that you’re eager to pair with Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore? #ItalianFWT #proseccosuperiore #coneglianovaldobbiadene #proseccodocg #proseccoelevated.
11:45 – Q10 How do you think Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG stands out next to other sparkling wines? Bubble size or volume, texture, aroma, overall taste? #ItalianFWT #proseccosuperiore #coneglianovaldobbiadene #proseccodocg #proseccoelevated.
11:50 – Q11 # Have you ever visited the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore region (50 km from Venice)? Impressions? ItalianFWT
I’d love to visit!
11:55 – Q12 Any last comments/questions? Share a thought, comment, or question! #ItalianFWT