Viticulture & Winemaking
Winemakers transport us to their wineries and vineyards to explain how terroir and winemaking create these unique wines.
Dive deep into what makes Conegliano Valdobbiadene so different from the winemaker's point of view.
We’ve spoken to 3 different wineries about the various facets of making these unique sparkling wines using the Martinotti method and how it impacts the flavors you find in your glass.
We explore how Brut and Extra-dry wines aren't just about the sugar level, the intricacies of Sui Lieviti wines, and the connection between Glera and Terroir.
Prosecco Superiore ranges from Extra-Brut to Dry, but the most common is Extra-Dry. There’s a rising trend in producing Brut wines as people desire less sugar.
We spoke to Andrea Miotto, winemaker at Cantina Miotto, to understand how sugar levels aren’t just about sugar - it all starts in the vineyard to end up with the perfect product.
What are the main differences in flavor profile between a Brut wine and an Extra-Dry Prosecco Superiore?
“There are so many variables in the aromatic profiles of the wines. It may change a lot, vintage by vintage, area by area (Conegliano vs Valdobbiadene) and of course the producer style.
We cannot make a good Brut or an Extra Dry starting from the same base wine. Extra-Dry needs to have enough acidity and salty minerality to balance a higher residual sugar. A wine with that acidity might be too sharp for a Brut.
At the same time a base wine that is round and full is perfect for a wine that does not need a lot of sugar, which is perfect for Brut.
So usually, for an Extra Dry, I use the grapes from vineyards that are a little more fresh, as the lowest parts of the hills where we have a more covered exposure and a deeper soil, or the vineyards more at north.
The wines here usually come out with more fresh fruit sensations: green apple, white flowers (acacia, jasmine, citrus flowers) and when they are ripe a nice note of pear, grapefruit, and sometimes pineapple.
If I want to make a Brut, on the contrary, I would go to the areas where my ripening is fuller and acidity is lower.
I will then have lower malic acid (around 1.5-2 g/L for Brut is perfect for me, in an Extra Dry I’d prefer 2.5-3 g/L) that makes my wine not too sharp and well balanced with a lower residual sugar.
The riper grapes have a different aromatic profile: fruit goes more to yellow apple, sometimes hints of tropical fruit. White peach is often a nice descriptor with pear and hints of banana. Usually the vegetal aromas are lower, less flowers and more fruit.
Overall, residual sugar helps with the intensity of aromas. An Extra Dry or Dry sparkling Conegliano Valdobbiadene usually has higher intensity. Brut usually has a lower intensity of aromatics but a more gentle definition. "
This style, which means “on the lees,” is becoming more popular. Previously known as Col Fondo, these wines complete their second fermentation in bottle and are not filtered.
Therefore we have cloudy, yeasty sparkling wine. We spoke to Umberto Marchiori to get the down-low on this trendy style.
Are Col Fondo and Sui Lieviti the same thing?
“Sui Lieviti is the evolution of Col Fondo. Both are white with bubbles, dry, with yeast in the bottom but, Sui Lieviti is sparkling, Col Fondo is frizzante.
Sui Lieviti have more pressure and more bubbles. Sui Lieviti must have sparkling wine cork and the vintage on the label, which is not the same for Col Fondo, which can be bottled using a crown cap. Sui Lieviti is only used for Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, whereas Col Fondo could be DOCG, DOC, or IGT wines.”
How is Sui Lieviti different in taste compared to normal Prosecco Superiore?
“Sui Lieviti is a raw wine compared to the regular Prosecco Superiore. It has a cloudy appearance because after the fermentation it has no filtration. Sui Lieviti has no sugar and no free sulphites.
It is the rustic version of our hills, very spontaneous and different through the different soil, exposure, altitude, management and vinification.
The smell is rich, funky, complex and not stable over time because the yeast inside evolve. The taste is dry, mineral and rich with creamy bubbles thanks to the polysaccharides solved from the yeast. Sui Lieviti is like a Classic Method (Champenoise) without degorgement.”
What do you do differently in the winery and vineyard when you're producing Sul Lieviti wines?
“The good guys use full ripe grapes. Less malic acid is good for Sui Lieviti in my opinion.
High malic is necessary for the Prosecco Superiore to give freshness. In my vinification I work a lot with skin contact, soft maceration in order to extract much taste.”
What do you see as the future of Sul Lieviti/Col Fondo in Conegliano-Valdobbiadene?
“In my opinion it could really be one of the top wine styles. It is a little bit unknown right now but it has a full characteristic to be the natural sparkling wine of the future.
This method of production saves CO2, and saves electricity. It has a true taste, true identity, because is the evolution of Col Fondo, the most ancient way to produce sparkling wine in our region like all over the world.
These wines can age and evolve over time thanks to the natural protection of the yeast.”
Glera is synonymous with Prosecco Superiore, but what about the terroir of these hills sets it apart from other zones? We spoke to Export Manager, Riccardo Poletti at Bortolin Angelo Spumanti to understand the intrinsic link between Glera and Conegliano Valdobbiadene.
What about the terroir in Conegliano-Valdobbiadene makes it a perfect setting to create world-class sparkling wine?
“I used to say that if anybody has grapes, technology and an oenologist, they will always be able to reproduce the numbers inside a bottle. We produce Charmat method sparkling wines.
Let’s take our Brut as an example. It is a sparkling wine with 5.5 g/L of acidity, 4.5 bar of pressure, and 11.5 % of alcohol. Anybody, using the same grape variety and the same technology, will be able to reproduce these numbers.
The only thing that is impossible to imitate is our terroir. 25 kilometers of hills, a unique morphology made by steep slopes, sun exposures, different soils, and a unique micro-climate.
All these things are our unique richness. The scents given to the grapes by our terroir are inimitable.”