Prosecco is an Italian DOC or DOCG white wine produced in a large area spanning nine provinces of the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia region and named after the village of Prosecco in the province of Trieste, Italy. It is made from Prosecco grapes (renamed Glera in 2009 in the European Union) but denomination rules allow up to 15% of the grapes to be other permitted varieties.
Within the larger designation are two smaller DOCG areas, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco in the hills between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, and Asolo Prosecco around the nearby town of Asolo. Prosecco Superiore is always spumante and comes only from this DOCG area. In 2019, Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, largely due to the region’s role in the production of Prosecco. Since 2020 DOCG regulations allow the rosé variety from Prosecco designated as spumante rosé , which must contain Glera mixed with 10-15% Pinot Noir.
Listen to Thus if you are curious and want to try the pleasures of Valdobbiadene Prosecco Docg.
In Trieste in the early sixteenth century, the local wine “Ribolla” was promoted as a celebrated Pucinian recreation of Pliny the Elder in his Natural History and praised for its quality by Livia, wife of Emperor Augustus. The need to distinguish the “Ribolla” of Trieste from other wines of the same name, produced in Gorizia and at a lower cost in Istria, led, at the end of the century, to a name change. Following the supposed place of production in ancient times, the wine is referred to as “castellum Nobile Vinum Pucinum”, after the castle near the village of Prosecco.
The first known mention of the name Prosecco is attributed to the Englishman Fynes Moryson, who used the spelling Prosecco. Moryson, visiting northern Italy in 1593, notes: “Histria was divided into the Forum Julii, and Histria is rightly called … Here grows the vine Pucinum, now called Prosecco, much celebrated by Pliny”.
He ranks Prosecco among the famous Italian wines: “This is the most famous Italian Wine. La Lagrima di Christo and like the neere Cinqueterre wines in Liguria: La Vernazza, and white Muscadine, especially from Montefiaschoni in Tuscany: Cecubum and Falernum in the Kingdom of Naples, and Prosecco in Histria”. The method of vinification, the truly distinguishing feature of the original Prosecco, spread first in Gorizia, then – via Venice – in Dalmatia, Vicenza, and Treviso.
In 1754, the spelling Prosecco appeared for the first time in the book Il Roccolo Ditirambo, written by Aureliano Acanti di Novoledo, in the municipality of Villaverla located in the Province of Vicenza. The grape came to be known to the Slovenian-speaking locals as Prosegker or Prosekar and was grown on the Adriatic coast near the villages of Contovello, Prosecco, Santa Croce, and the former Roman villa town of Barcola.
Since then, production techniques have improved, resulting in even higher quality wines that are produced today. According to a 2008 New York Times report, Prosecco’s popularity has risen sharply in markets outside Italy, with global sales growing by double-digit percentages since 1998, helped also by its relatively low price.
January 1, 2010, Prosecco, according to an order of the Italian Minister of Agriculture of July 17, 2009, is no longer the name of a grape variety (now called Glera) but is exclusively a geographical indication. This was confirmed by EG-Regulation Nr. 1166/2009 dated November 30, 2009. Colli Asolani Prosecco Superiore DOCG then changed its name to Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG in 2014.
Unlike Champagne and Franciacorta DOCG, Prosecco is typically produced using the alternative Charmat-Martinotti method, in which secondary fermentation takes place in large stainless steel tanks rather than in each bottle, making the wine cheaper to produce, and the minimum production time is 30 days.
Higher quality prosecco using this method will ferment the wine for a longer time, up to about 9 months (Charmat Lungo). However, the production rules for both DOCGs also allow the use of the traditional method of secondary fermentation in bottles, known in Italy as Methodo Classico. DOC and DOCG rules allow up to 15% of Prosecco wines to be a blend of Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, or Pinot Noir (vinified white).
About 150 million bottles of Prosecco were produced in 2008. Since then, massive growth means this figure is now approaching 600 million bottles in 2018. Since the 2000s, Glera grapes have been cultivated and grapes are produced in other countries including Brazil, Romania, Argentina, and Australia
In the DOCG region of Valdobbiadene, there are more than 150 producers, and together they form the Consortium for the Protection of Prosecco from Valdobbiadene (Consorzio per la Tutela del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene). Asolo DOCG has its own Consorzio, with 94 producers.
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