Episode 141: Decoding DOCG Prosecco

Episode 141: Decoding DOCG Prosecco

Sparkling wine, just in time, to celebrate the holidays – and we mean any holiday, all year round. In this episode we decode some superior sparkling wines from the Veneto region of Italy known as Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG. This episode covers the grape(s) found in the wines and a discussion of styles. We hope you’ll enjoy the information with a sparkling sip nearby. [Ad]


In the Glasses

First, it is important we tell you the fine bubbles in this episode were provided by Gregory White PR and the Consorzio di Tutela del Conegliano Vino Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG.

2016 Ca’ Di Rajo “Cuvee del Fondatore” Prosecco Superiore Millesimato Brut – Valdobbiadene DOCG ($16-22)

Producer = Ca’ Di Rajo

Wine = Cuvee del Fondatore

Style = Brut

Grape = Glera

Appellation = Valdobbiadene

This prosecco is the “Cuvee of the Founder” and the word millesimato on the label indicates the wine is made from at least 85% of grapes from the vintage stated, in this case 2016. Superiore refers to the spumante version of Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG. And just to refresh your memory, spumante (sparkling/foamy) must be a minimum of 3.5 bars of pressure, but typically around 5 bars or atmospheres.

As opposed to frizzante (fizzy) which is 1 – 2.5 bars of pressure or the still version of Prosecco, yes that exists, which is called tranquillo (meaning quiet).

Here are two more nuggets – 95% of production is spumante, and the frizzante is currently slated to be removed and potentially be labeled as IGT!

2015 Ruggeri “Vecchie Viti” Prosecco Superiore Brut – Valdobbiadene DOCG ($24)

Producer = Ruggeri

Wine = Vecchie Viti

Style = Brut

Grape = 90% Glera, 6% Verdiso, 2% Bianchetta and 2% Perera

Appellation = Valdobbiadene

This Prosecco’s name means “Old Vines” because it is a tribute to the long lived indigenous vines, between 80-100 years old, and the people who’ve cultivated the land all these years.

2015 Masottina “Contrada Granda” Prosecco Superiore Millesimato Brut – Rive di Ogliano DOCG ($30-34)

Producer = Masottina

Wine = Contrada Granda

Style = Brut

Grape = Glera

Appellation = Ogliano

Rive in local dialect means “steep sites” or “banks” and they are single village/hamlets that are considered to be almost as prestigious as the 107 hectare Cartizze vineyard. The rive system was also created in 2009 and there are currently 43 rive. By law, if the rive is stated on the label, 100% of the grapes must come from that rive, it must be vintage dated, and hand harvested at a lower yield.

It also cracks us up that the tasting notes read “appeals to those with refined personality who go beyond fashion fads.”

2014 Bellenda “Sei Uno” Prosecco Superiore Brut – Rive di Carpescia DOCG ($25)

Producer = Bellenda

Wine = Sei Uno

Style = Brut

Grape = Glera

Appellation = Carpescia

This wine was made via fermentation in bottle or fermentazione in bottiglia.

Speaking of bottle fermentation, this is a good place to mention the various ways the bubbles get into prosecco in the first place. We dive into more of this in the audio (after all, we’re a podcast – the blog is here for reference, links, and extended information), however, here’s a summary of the two paths a winemaker can take: one way is via a second fermentation in a pressurized tank, and the other (with options, of course) is the way the Bellenda is made, with a second fermentation in the bottle. There’s something else to point out here. The tasting notes from the producer suggest using a large prosecco crystal glass for enjoying and to avoid using a flute! (We like white wine glasses also.)

  • 2nd fermentation in tank/autoclave – Charmat/Martinotti
  • 2nd fermentation in bottle (rifermentato bottiglia)
    • Classic Method with disgorgement (Metodo Classico)
    • Traditional Method without disgorgement (aka Col Fondo, Sul lievito, Ancestrale)

NV Le Vigne di Alice “A Fondo” ($20)

Producer = Le Vigne di Alice

Wine = A Fondo

Style = Brut

Grape = Glera

Appellation = Valdobbiadene

Col Fondo is a Prosecco that the second fermentation happened in the bottle without disgorgement. It is also called ancestrale or sul lievito. We thought this obscure and geeky style would surely put that sparkle in your eye. Col Fondo is truly a traditional wine with the (col ) all the sediment at the bottom (fondo in Italian) still in the bottle.

Fondo is an interesting word that means several things, such as bottom, leftover, deep, dense or to establish. Someone once described to Val where the bathroom was in a restaurant as, “al fondo,” in which case it was all the way in the back of a long, dark hallway.

When you hear our end-of-year bloopers, we’re pretty sure you’ll be able to apply the word fondo once again. Meanwhile, we shared the experience of opening and pouring this wine in a video.

Prosecco, the Place

Prosecco, as you may already know, comes from northeastern Italy and the DOC wines encompass the two regions of Veneto and Friuli. Much of the growing area is flat plains and valleys. Where as the wines we are drinking and talking about today, the DOCGs of Conegliano Valdobbiadene can only be made in the designated growing area about one hour north of Venice named after the two towns Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. What makes this an extraordinary place are the 15 hillside towns that represent this top tier of Italian sparkling wine. The hills are very steep, the grapes are hand harvested and the climate is varied – cooler, more alpine in the hilly areas, but more continental in the plains. Naturally the closer to the water, the more moderation there will be in the climate.

In 2008, Conegliano Valdobbiadene launched a project to recognize these hills as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! AND this year, 2017, their candidacy was approved. Clearly, that takes persistence and work. The efforts of this project are described in more detail on www.prosecco.it and are framed by elements of cultural landscape, nature, architecture, art, vocation for wine, winemaking tradition and innovation.

Glera and the Gang – Grape Gab

Glera, the star grape, must make up at least 85% of any DOCG Prosecco. Back in 2009, three major things happened and one of them had to do with changing the name of the grape from Prosecco to the historical/ancient name Glera. Now Prosecco applies only to the growing area. The other two major changes of significance were the creation of Prosecco DOC and the elevation of the heartland, Conegliano Valdobbiadene, to DOCG, which accounts for one-quarter of total Prosecco production.

Back to the grapes … besides Glera, the other indigenous varieties that can make up to 15% of the blend are Verdiso, Bianchetta, Perera and Glera Lunga. The international stars that can also be used up to 15% include Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio (spumante only) and Chardonnay.

Just a few bits about a couple of these geeky grapes…


Verdiso is a native Italian white grape that dates back over 200 years. There was a disastrous frost in the early 18th century, and according to Jancis Robinson’s Wine Grapes, Kindle Edition, the Verdiso was heavily planted after that frost, all but forgotten about, and revived, so to speak, in the 1960s by an Italian vine breeder named Giuseppe Tochetti.


Bianchetta, also known as Bianchetta Trevigiana, Bianchetta Gentile, or Vernassina, among other names, is another hard-core white grape that has been around since, possibly, the 17th century, according to literature found in Treviso. This grape was also once used to make Vermouth, and it’s believed to be the offspring of a red grape, Brambana, crossed with Durella (Robinson, Harding, Vourillamoz, Wine Grapes, Kindle Edition). Now, it’s in our glass of 2015 Ruggeri “Vecchie Viti” Prosecco Superiore Brut – Valdobbiadene DOCG! (I just love saying that).


Perera in Prosecco brings perfume and pear. Say that five times really fast. This is another one of those “nearly extinct” grapes that almost succumbed to a vine disease about 40 years ago.

Label Decoding

Prosecco’s – 3 appellations

  • DOC Prosecco (90% of all Prosecco)
  • DOCG Colli Asolani
  • DOCG Conegliano Valdobbiadene
    • Cartizze – think of it as the Grand Cru
    • Rive – considered the Premier Cru
    • Everything else

Oh So Stylish

The styles follow the terminology of Champagne and range from sweet to dry.

  • Dry – sweetest (17-32 g/l)
  • Extra Dry – most traditional (12-17 g/l)
  • Brut – dry (0-12 g/l)
    • Extra Brut (less than 6g/l)
    • Brut Nature (less than 3g/l)



http://www.prosecco.it/en/academy/ – virtual/online school with videos



https://www.winescholarguild.org/past-member-webinar-video-recordings-9/regional-studies-6/northern-italy-wine-education/conegliano-valdobbiadene-prosecco-docg-with-alantardi.html (WSG members)


http://winewitandwisdomswe.com//?s=prosecco – The Father of Prosecco and much more!


Robinson, J., Harding, J., & Vouillamoz, J. Wine Grapes: A Complete Guide to 1,368 Vine Varieties, Including Their Origins and Flavours [Kindle Edition]. Available at www.amazon.com

Wino Radar

Vino in Villa is the annual cultural festival devoted to the wine of Conegliano Valdobbiadene. It is held the 3rd weekend in May and welcomes people in the trade and also consumers. It sounds like an amazing, magical time, right in the heart of the production area and among the dramatic hillsides of a soon-to-be UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Grazie mille!

Val was able to catch up with Stefanie from Gregory White PR at #WBC17!

  • Gregory White PR and especially Kelsey and Stefanie
  • Consorzio di Tutela del Conegliano Vino Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG
  • The 178 sparkling wine producers of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG and 3000+ growers

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