Prosecco has fast become the aperitivo of choice for wine drinkers around the world, but it also makes a fun holiday pour. The best are Prosecco Superiore bottlings from Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, as well as offerings from the small Asolo growing zone, all of which are charming, affordable and loaded with personality.
The most celebrated wines come from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene areas. The bulk of Prosecco DOC is cultivated on low-lying plains in nine provinces that span the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG hails from hillside vineyards in a much smaller growing zone in the Treviso province of Veneto. Situated between the Dolomites and the Adriatic Sea, the sunny slopes ripen the grapes, while high altitudes guarantee freshness even in hot vintages.
Prosecco and Prosecco Superiore are both made from a minimum of 85% of the native grape Glera, and they get their bubbles through the Charmat method of second fermentation in steel tanks. Champagne and Metodo Classico sparkling wines, on the other hand, are made via classic bottle fermentation.
When compared to metodo classico bottlings and Champagne, Prosecco and Prosecco Superiore are lighter, fresher, fruitier and meant to be enjoyed young. The Superiore versions have more flavor intensity and depth than the straight Proseccos. Brut versions make great apéritifs, while Proseccos labeled dry—which are actually semi-sweet—pair well with pastries and fruit tarts.
Conegliano Valdobbiadene boasts a cool generation of young producers who are taking winemaking to new levels. Besides the use of more sustainable vineyard techniques, some of these winemakers have revived the customary Col Fondo Prosecco, which is refermented in the bottle, but rather than disgorging, the wine is left on their lees, resulting in a yeasty residue that leaves fine sediment on the bottom (fondo) which imparts more flavors. These fantastic wines are less fizzy and labeled Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, without the added term “Superiore,” which is reserved for wines that have more exuberant bubbles.
Ca’ dei Zago 2016 Col Fondo (Valdobbiadene Prosecco); $25, 93 points. This lightly sparkling, terroir-driven wine is loaded with soul and finesse. It’s ethereal and bone dry, with delicately alluring aromas and flavors of white spring flower, ripe apple, Bartlett pear, citrus and Alpine herb. Crisp acidity and a silky mousse provide balance and finesse while a mineral note energizes the focused finish. The sediment at the bottom of the bottle adds even more flavor to the last glass. Editor’s Choice.
Case Paolin NV Col Fondo (Asolo Prosecco Superiore); $25, 92 points. Slightly fizzy and incredibly fragrant, this radiant sparkler boasts heady scents of honeysuckle, lemon blossom and white stone fruit. The crisp dry palate delivers green apple, Bartlett pear, citrus zest and a saline note alongside vibrant acidity and lightly foaming bubbles. Fermented in the bottle, it has some sediment at the bottom that adds flavor and complexity. Editor’s Choice.
Albino Armani NV Casa Belfi Col Fondo (Prosecco); $20, 91 points. Yeasty aromas of bread dough, toasted hazelnut, pressed wild flower and an earthy whiff of brimstone follow over to the crisp palate along with citrus and yellow apple. Made with grapes cultivated according to biodynamic farming practices and fermented with wild yeasts, it’s a fascinating expression of Prosecco.
BiancaVigna 2015 Organic (Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore); $23, 91 points. Enticing aromas of citrus, spring blossom and white stone fruit set the tone on this elegant sparkler. Bright and polished, the silky palate offers Bartlett pear and green apple alongside vibrant acidity and a silky perlage.
Pizzolato 2016 Fields Brut (Prosecco); $13, 91 points. Made entirely with organic grapes, this delicately sparkling wine boasts enticing scents of white spring flower, beeswax and pear. The vibrant, ethereal palate is loaded with finesse, offering Rennet apple, lemon and mineral alongside crisp acidity and a light, elegant perlage. Best Buy.
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