What better way of celebrating a wedding than saluting one another with a few glasses of chilled, sparkling Prosecco? And to continue the celebrations, how about spending a few days in Valdobbiadene, the home of Prosecco.
Prosecco: the world famous bubbly that now outsells Champagne worldwide, comes from the Veneto region of Italy. Prosecco DOC is produced in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions of northern Italy, while Prosecco Superiore and Cartizze DOCG come solely from the hills of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano in the province of Treviso and, on a smaller scale, Prosecco DOCG hails from the hills around the town of Asolo.
Here in Italy, chilled, fresh-tasting Prosecco is widely consumed with food and is not solely an aperitivo, but can be used in some cocktails such as Bellini, Aperol, Hugo and Campari Spritz, Mimosa and Sgroppino.
Two days after the wedding celebrations had wound down and our respective families had hugged their goodbyes and departed for Arizona, Dublin and Rome, Tom and I hopped in the car and headed straight for the beautiful hills of Valdobbiadene for a few days of rest and relaxation.
Checking into the delightful Agriturismo Relais Dolcevista, we marvelled at the fabulous view of the valley of Valdobbiadene.
The pool was inviting and we spent a great deal of our three days there lounging around in the sun, dipping in and out of the cool water.
Early on our second morning there, we went for a huge hike along the very steep trails among the vineyards before the heat of the day set in.
On this trek we stopped by the ‘Osteria with no host’, a popular little eatery where guests help themselves and leave whatever money they think fit. Unfortunately, we were too early to give it a try. Next time perhaps!
One of the joys of a few days right in the middle of these famous hills was how easy it was to stop here and there to sample the Prosecco at the many, many cantine dotting the valley. We soon began to understand the complexities of the different grades of this sparkling wine.
In the green, undulating hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene there are more than 150 producers, which form the Consortium for the Protection of Prosecco from Conegliano and Valdobbiadene (Consorzio per la Tutela del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene)
The hills of Valdobbiadene are so steep, it means that almost everything to do with the care of the vines, right down to the picking, must be done by hand.
Top of the range of Prosecco available, is Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG. This fabulous wine is grown on a steep, south-facing vineyard of just 107 hectares and is the property of 140 growers. Obviously, production is limited and I can vouch for the fact that it is a stunning wine.
Want to know how Prosecco is made?
Using the Glera grape, Prosecco is produced using the Charmat-Martinotti method, as it was invented by a gentleman by the name of Federico Martinotti and perfected by Eugene Charmat at the beginning of the 20th century. In this Metodo Martinotti, fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with the addition of sugar and yeast. Prosecco producers of DOCG Prosecco Valdobbiadene are also permitted to use the Metodo Classico, which consists of secondary fermentation in the bottle.
First of all the Glera grapes are hand-picked and gently pressed. The cloudy juice is then allowed to settle at a low temperature in stainless steel tanks, after which the clear grape juice goes on to be fermented at 16-20 degrees centigrade for 15-20 days.
Next step is what is called the ‘prise de mousse’ when the wine is put into large pressurised tanks known as autoclaves with sugar and yeast. After around 30 days, when the wine is sparkling, bottling takes place for a short period of maturation. Then it’s ready to drink!
In other words, a perfect honeymoon in the beautiful hills of Valdobbiadene. Salutè!