Prosecco has become a difficult minefield to navigate: it can come from a vast expanse of northeast Italy, including fertile plains better suited to grain than grape. The world’s colossal appetite for the stuff, alas, has resulted in millions and millions of bottles of often-sweet bubbly plonk being churned out annually. Buyer, beware! In contrast, here is a bone-dry Prosecco from steep, lush terraced vineyards right where the towering Alps abruptly emerge from the Veneto’s gentle hillsides. This is serious terroir, folks, and it’s no coincidence the area has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Brilliantly exemplifying the historic col fondo style, the wine is slightly cloudy from being refermented in bottle without disgorgement or filtration. You may let the deposit settle out and pour carefully for a leaner, crisper experience, or gently invert the bottle to experience the sediment’s textural and aromatic properties. The late Luigi Gregoletto recommended splashing the fondo into risotto part way through cooking, and some have made arguments for its medicinal properties. This brisk, fizzy, stony nectar has an undeniable gift for bestowing unparalleled palate stimulation and mental reinvigoration.
The Gregoletto family name can be found in historical archives dating from the late 16th, as viticoltori in the hills of Premaor di Miane, near Valdobbiadene. The family has two real specialties: semi-sparkling wine made sui lieviti or on its lees, and still wine made from grapes most commonly used to make sparkling wine. They are among the very last growers in the Veneto to cultivate the indigenous Verdiso grape, making magnificent tranquillo and sui lieviti bottlings from it. They also make Prosecco in all of its forms: still, demi-sec, semi-sparkling, and metodo classico. The Gregoletto family’s wines are incredibly pure, refreshing, and elegant and can be enjoyed effortlessly. They provide instant pleasure.
Italy’s most prolific wine region by volume, the Veneto is the source of some of the country’s most notorious plonk: you’ll find oceans of insipid Pinot Grigo, thin Bardolino, and, of course, the ubiquitous Prosecco. And yet, the Veneto produces the highest proportion of DOC wine of any Italian region: home to prestigious appellations like Valpolicella, Amarone, and Soave, it is capable of excelling in all three colors, with equally great potential in the bubbly and dessert departments.
With almost 200,000 acres planted, the Veneto has a wealth of terroirs split between the Po Valley and the foothills of the Alps. While the rich soils of the flatlands are conducive to mechanization, high yields, and mass production of bulk wine, the areas to the north offer a fresher climate and a diversity of poor soil types, ideal for food-friendly wines that show a sense of place. Whether it’s a charming Prosecco Superiore from the Glera grape, a stony Soave or Gambellara from Garganega, or a Corvina-based red in any style, the Veneto’s indigenous grape varieties show real character when worked via traditional production methods.
Since his first visit in 1979, Kermit has regularly returned to the Veneto to enjoy its richness of fine wines and local cuisine. Our collaboration with Corte Gardoni, our longest-running Italian import, is a testament to this. The proximity of beautiful cities like Verona and Venice, with their deep culinary heritage, certainly doesn’t hurt, either.
Great winemakers, great terroirs, there is never any hurry. And I no longer buy into this idea of “peak” maturity. Great winemakers, great terroirs, their wines offer different pleasures at different ages.
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