Sparkling wine – Prosecco

Latest news

  1. In 2009, Prosecco was established as a DOC, the official production area being enlarged, and Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene elevated to DOCG. But what had real impact at the time, internationally, was the effective trademarking of the prosecco variety, by using the name to create a GI, and renaming the variety, rather unattractively, with its obscure and some say questionable synonym glera, at least within the EU [3]. Prosecco is also planted in eg Australia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil and Romania. In Australia it is particularly successful, with commercial planting started around 1999, and so the Australians were not pleased at such a blatant protectionist action. This was an issue at future free trade agreement talks with EU.
  2. Italian authorities crackdown on fake Prosecco – the 2009 reassignment of IGT classified wines to DOC, with the requisite reduction in yield from 250 to 180hl/ha, has left growers worse off.  So some have been importing grapes and selling counterfeit wines, often carbonated, under the DOC label. Decanter, 09/07/13.
  3. Skinny Prosecco – reduced sugar (at the point of post-tank fermentation dosage) content, down by around half from the common level of ~12-15 g/l, bringing it more in line with Cava, and other brut styles of sparkling wine. The Independent 04/12/16 [online] accessed 28/12/18.
  4. Bottle fermented DOCG Cartizze example reported by Decanter magazine, Italy 2017, as available in the UK (£17). Tasting notes include bakery and floral notes. 09/01/17.
  5. Between 2009 and 2017 there have been several attacks by the DOC Prosecco Consortium on the Australian’s use of prosecco as a marketing label [4], and the attempt to register GI Prosecco there. As of 2017 the discussion continues.
  6. Prosecco rosé wine moves closer to reality. Decanter online, accessed 11/11/18. Pink Cava and Champagne, so why not Prosecco? One does wonder why such an obvious gap in the market has not been filled before? And also of course, why the English do not have an entry level sparkling to compete.
  7. 0.75 million litres of doctored Prosecco seized by Italian police – sugar added during fermentation to illegally boost alcohol content. The Drinks Business 14/12/18 [online] accessed 28/12/18.

A wine produced in north-east Italy (but also Australia) from prosecco, renamed in Italy for marketing purposes as its obscure synonym glera in 2009 [3].  Mostly tank method, giving fruity wines with fresh acidity, with a profile including apples and pears, stone fruit and flowers; at frizzante (1-2.5atm) and spumante (> 3.5atm) pressures, with about 11% abv.  In general it has a shelf life of about 2 years.

An historical anecdote – Kermit Lynch, in his 2004 text Inspiring Thirst, refers in his 1982 section, to a rather rustic pre-modern style of Prosecco, in which the wine (bottled before fermentation is completed) re-ferments in bottle, with characteristically variable results – some definitely, and others only faintly sparkling, but always with a lot of gunk (sediment), and the bottles were not even wired.

DOC and DOCG regions in north-east Italy, in the Region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and a major part of the Region of Veneto. Until 2009 DOC wines used the IGT classification. The eponymous village of Prosecco is now a suburb of Trieste, on the border with Slovenia.

Mild, cold mild winters, hot dry summers.

Limestone in the hills and clay on the plains.

Telegraph 12/2012 – Prosecco sales doubled in 2012.
Mintel – (European) champagne sales falling at same time (as Prosecco has risen), fallen by 1/3 since 2007.
Decanter July 2013 – Prosecco is made from the glera variety; the best are 100% glera. There are lighter bodied (than varietal glera) blends, with up to 10% of other local varieties; also  blends with chardonnay, but this dominates the delicate glera – so best avoided.

Drinks International 10/2011 – Prosecco production at 210m bottles, equating to 15% of global sparkling production.


  • Prosecco – wines labelled Prosecco are the cheap end.
  • Prosecco DOC – encompasses the Region of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and a major part of the Region of Veneto.
  • Prosecco Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG – the hilly area within the Prosecco DOC, in the Province of Treviso in the Region of Veneto.  The best wines are from the two villages of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene.
    Conegliano – flat clay rich soil – provides body.
    Valdobbiadene – hilly limestone rich marl – provides perfume.
    Very good Proseccos can be made with grapes from either village, but it is believed that the syntheses of the two gives the best wine.
  • Cartizze Superiore DOCG – a commune in Valdobbiadene, hilly, stony, higher, cooler, higher quality – has its own superiore denomination – a cut above plain DOCG.

Production is in, or around Valdobbiadene; I cannot find the number of producers, but productions does not appear to have a co-op element.

There is a small number of artisanal producers in the Cartizze DOCG, using metodo classico, that is with a 2nd fermentation in bottle, but these must be labelled as [Cartizze] Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco Frizzante DOCG rather than Superiore, so if the label shows DOCG + frizzante, then it is bottle fermented.  A few produce vintage wines for example, but also the Australians.

20000ha total.
Includes 5000ha DOCG.
And 100ha Cartizze subzone.
South facing slopes at 50-500m altitude.
Maximum yield 90hl/ha.
Difficult terrain – so manual harvesting.

Most are made by the tank (aka charmat, Martinotti or cuvee close) method; the primary fermentation occurs in stainless steel tank (to protect against oxidation), and the second in a pressure tank (aka autoclave), to put the sparkle (prise de mousse); generally with no lees ageing as fresh fruity flavours and bright acidity are wanted.

However, there are exceptions, where some producers eg Follador, keep the wine on the lees for anything from 20 days to 6 months. Also a small number of wines are made by the metodo classico, and labelled accordingly.

Then there is the fermentazione col fondo style. Col fondo = with sediment, a term related to the second fermentation of a sparkling wine in bottle, without disgorgement, so that lees are retained in the final product. This means that if a bottle is agitated sufficiently, it will be cloudy on serving. This style, though quite rare, is available in the UK, eg Hay Wines.

Low temperature fermentation, 14C – get amylic notes – apple, melon, pear; but if too low get pear drop and banana notes.

Dosage determines whether frizzante 1-2.5atm or spumante > 3.5atm.  As soon as the wine is off the lees, it is bottled.  Mushroom cork, final abv about 11.5%.

None, consume within 2 years of harvest.
Most are not vintage dated, but a few are made – what their longevity is, is a question.

Brut, extra dry and dry (actually slightly sweet – amabile).
Pressure – frizzante or full spumante.
Col fondo.

Tasting note
Green apple, pear, white peach, citrus, stone fruit, iris, white flowers; crisp apple acidity, 11.5%.


  1. Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG consorzio  – for examples of plain DOCG, DOCG Rive, DOCG Superiore di Cartizze, and producers eg of the minor styles of frizzante (second fermentation in bottle) and tranquillo. [online] accessed 31/10/17.
  2. Berry Green, D. (2011) Bottle-fermented Prosecco Colfóndo opens up a new front. [online] accessed 31/10/17.
  3. Robinson, J., et al. (2012). Wine Grapes. Allen Lane.
  4. EU launches new attack on Australia’s use of “prosecco”. (10/17). Drinks Bulletin. [online] accessed 18/04/18.

Updated 28/12/18

About citbp

I am interested in everything about wine, from site selection to tasting.
This entry was posted in ITALY, italy friuli venezia giulia, SPARKLING WORLDWIDE. Bookmark the permalink.

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