The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Prosecco Earns its Place

Posted on | July 16, 2010 | Written by Kathy Rushforth | No Comments

Perhaps more than other wines that have successfully established their identities, Prosecco is a wine in transition. While it has been around since ancient Rome, the wine is finally achieving the status its pedigree and history demand.  Effective April 1, 2010, the term “Prosecco” refers to a specific place: Veneto and parts of Friuli-Venezia Giulia in the northeastern corner of Italy. These two regions, along with nine other specific provinces, geographically define the current Prosecco DOC. While Prosecco is actually the name of a town near the city of Trieste in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the wine’s major grape, formerly known as Prosecco, will now go by the ancient name of Glera, a name unfamiliar even to the people within the region.  However, only the name has changed; Italian Prosecco has always been made with Glera, though lesser known varieties have figured into the wine’s composition in rather negligible amounts over time.

The incorporation of the new DOCG classification (Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore) ensures that wines from the two most prominent zones will face stricter controls and be given the highest guarantee. Comprised of fifteen communes (or townships), the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene zone is a hilly region with very steep slopes that require vineyard operations to be performed by hand, a practice that has been in place for over three centuries. In addition to the general designation, wines that derive from a single hillside will, in conjunction with standard DOCG labeling, include the term rive, which refers to the finest vineyards and those receiving favorable exposure.

According to Decanter, these “new regulations will also regulate yield for both the new DOC and DOCG zones should be reduced. The DOC will show the most drastic decrease – from the current 180hl/ha to 126hl/ha. There will also be a small reduction in yields in the DOCG zone, from 95hl/ha to 90hl/ha.”

What all this tech talk means for wine consumers is that we can expect a rise in the quality of Prosecco—that’s good news for us. Full of refreshing acidity, pleasant aromatics and delicate flavors of peach and green apple, Prosecco is a perfect sparkler for summer. And its reasonable price point and easy-drinking nature doesn’t hurt, either. However, because of these recent changes, Prosecco may become a more serious wine.

While Prosecco hasn’t carried the same prestige or fastidious production as Champagne— where secondary fermentation is carried out in bottle (méthode champenoise) as opposed to stainless steel tanks (the charmat method)—with the spanky new DOC/G areas and the accompanying raising of standards, it has a reason to take itself more seriously—even if it remains a seriously fun wine to drink!


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