Speaking of Bubbles… Part Two

There is a lot of average to shitty Prosecco out there.  That is ok I guess since most Prosecco is meant for aperitivo hour in Italy, just something to casually drink alongside little finger snacks at the local bar before sitting down to dinner where the serious wine drinking and eating begins.  Some people even desecrate Prosecco by pouring peach purée into it, something called a Bellini, supposedly this is a popular cocktail around the world, I don’t believe it.  Prosecco should be meant for better things.

To review, Prosecco is a sparkling wine from Italy, more specifically the Veneto area in the Northeastern corner of the country (where Venice is).  Most of the production takes place in the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, just south of the Alpine mountains.  Prosecco is not Champagne, Prosecco is Prosecco.  Prosecco is made mostly from Glera grapes, also known as Prosecco grapes.  The bubbles in most Prosecco happen when you add sugar and yeast to still wine and let it re-ferment in a pressurized steel tank.  The yeast eats the sugar making alcohol and that gives off  CO2 gas which cannot escape the vat and it is all bottled under pressure.   This is called the Charmat Method or Metodo Italiano or Metodo Charmat-Martinotti (Named after a French guy who perfected an Italian’s invention).  This is a quicker, easier way to make sparkling wine and it is cheaper, and it can be done on a massive scale.

There are many great examples of inexpensive Prosecco produced in the Charmat Method that everyone should chug down, but I want to tell you about an extra special Prosecco that is made the old fashion way.

Christian Ca’ Dei Zago of the farm Ca’ Dei Zago crafts some of the coolest Prosecco from just 4 hectares of vines.  His idea is to guide the grapes from harvest to bottle with no extra energy.  This means no pesticides in the soil, no machine harvest, no extra sulphites are added, no commercial yeasts, all the wine is gravity fed.  The secondary fermentation takes place in each bottle (which Christian bottles by hand) with no dosage (sugar and yeast).

Instead the wine is bottled with a bit of residual grape sugar that eventually re-ferments on its own making lightly textured bubbles.  There is no filtration and no disgorgement (where the sediment is removed and an additional sugary-syrupy mix of wine is added and a cork is shoved in).  This sparkling wine is lively and chalky, lemon zesty and bone cracking dry.  You could start a meal with it for sure but it would easily carry all the way through a butter and cream rich meal.

Delicious, delicious noble lees, embrace them.  Think of them as flavor crystals.

Ca’ Dei Zago “Col Fondo” (with sediment) Prosecco di Valdobbiadene . $20. Imported by Williams Corner Wine.

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