Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Italian Winemakers in Houston - Conegliano Valdobbiadene

Gambero Rosso came to Houston to present their two part "Italian Wine Tales" tastings starting with a seminar on the Prosecco Superiore wines from Italy's Conegliano Valdobbiadene region. As a lover of bubbly wines, I was looking forward to this event.
Prosecco wine is made primarily from the grape variety Glera using a minimum of 85%. It may be blended with up to 15% of Verdiso, Bianchetta, Perera, Pinot or Chardonnay. While basic Prosecco DOC wine can come from a much larger area in the Veneto and Fruili regions with an area that includes 600 municipalities, the higher quality Prosecco Superiore wines from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG come from fifteen municipalities in a much smaller delineated area set between the two named towns on limestone hillsides. The wines which are produced here have adhered to higher standards in both the vineyard and the winery than the more basic DOC wines.
The wines may be vintage dated or they may be non-vintage/multi-vintage. There are three sweetness levels produced. Brut is the least sweet or most dry and probably the most versatile with food while Extra Dry is the most traditional with its touch of sweetness. Dry is the sweetest and may be the most difficult to pair with food.
A recent introduction onto labels is the "Rive" indication. This wine must be vintage dated and will include the name of the municipality where the grapes were grown within the Conegliano Valdobbiadene region. This new labeling allows terroir differences to be explored by wine lovers around the world. Wines with this indication join the spumante wines from the historic zone of Cartizze at the top of the quality pyramid for the region.

All of the wines were a clear, very pale straw color with profuse bubbles. The wines we tasted:

2012 Bellenda Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Brut San Fermo Millesimato- fruity peach aromas with some floral notes. Dry, creamier texture than I expected with flavors matching the aromas, nice acidity and a mineral finish. Very good, recommended.

Valdo Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Brut Oro Puro- light floral aromas. Dry, delicate, light, good acidity, clean finish. Food friendly, recommended.

Canella Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry- light fruity pear and apricot aromas. On the dry to off dry line. Zesty citrus flavor added to the aroma flavors, good acidity with a richer mouthfeel than the previous one and a mineral finish. Very good, recommended.

2011 Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry Bandarossa Millesimato- distinct wisteria floral aroma. Off dry with a dried apricot flavor and good acidity. Intriguing.

2012 La Tordera Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Dry Cru del Tittoni Mill- fresh and fruity aromas of apple and peach. Off dry+, similar flavors.

2012 Astoria Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Brut Casa Vittorino Rive di Refrontolo Millesimato- right as I begin to sniff this glass, the person to the left of me says, "It's like a sparkling Gruner Veltliner." I ponder that wine thought with some agreement and I don't actually write down any notes for this one, though I do remember liking it.

Colesel Valdobbiadene DOCG Superiore di Cartizze Brut- Fruity aroma-apple and pear. Dry, a little more full bodied with a bit more of a creamy texture. Pear flavor with a bit of nuttiness in the finish. Recommended.

Overall, I would say that although I enjoyed virtually every wine that I tasted. In my home, I would be more inclined to serve the drier Brut version. I would serve it as an aperitif for dinner parties or with a light quiche or frittata meal or any brunch type menu. I might also serve the Extra Dry version with saltier pre-meal snacks like cured meats and cheeses. The Consortium recommends less sweet desserts or spicy fusion cuisine with the sweeter Dry version.