All those words after “Prosecco” may be a mouthful, but they are of critical importance. This appellation designates the most qualitative zone for producing Prosecco, a series of dramatically steep slopes in the foothills of the Dolomites whose wines are subject to strict DOCG quality standards. Representing less than a quarter of the total land planted to Prosecco—crucially, excluding the vast, fertile plains to the south—this area is home to breathtaking hillside vineyards that are on another planet when it comes to terroir. It is only logical that, like the Côte d’Or and the Langhe, the Conegliano Valdobbiadene subzone has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status. All this to say that Prosecco is not generic sparkling wine, and Sommariva is not generic Prosecco—pour a round of this gentle, floral, enlivening Superiore DOCG to see what I mean.
For generations the Sommariva family worked vines on the Venetian high plains, but it was Caterino Sommariva who began purchasing hillside vineyards, having great faith in the Prosecco varietal and deciding to plant it exclusively. Their daughter Cinzia remembers the difficulty of harvest; choosing to pursue studies in marketing. As she got older, she began to see her parents’ work differently, discovering her own passion for winemaking. She eventually joined them and became an enthusiastic and dynamic partner. The Sommarivas take their work very seriously, closely watching over every step of production. These perfectionists only sit back once the work is done and it’s time to enjoy the delightfully fresh fruits of their labor.
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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