Mon 26 Jul 2010
How much would you pay for a bottle of Prosecco? You’re thinking, $18, $20 tops, right? Or even less?
What if I told you that there is a segment of Prosecco that is positioning itself to compete, price-wise, with sparkling wines in the $30- to $45-range? These products are from a small area within the Valdobbiadene D.O.C. region (north of Venice) called Cartizze; examples are allowed the designation Superiore di Cartizze. How small is Cartizze? Within a triangle of steep hillsides defined at its points by three villages, the vineyard area amounts to 108 hectares, or about 277.5 acres. (In comparison, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, one estate in Bordeaux, covers 247 acres.) It is here that the Prosecco grape reaches (or supposedly reaches) its apotheosis. All right, perhaps that’s too strong a word for what’s going on, but I’ll admit that over the past few days I’ve tried several Prosecco Valdobbiandene Superiore di Cartizze, to give the full name, and they were miles better than 90 percent of the Proseccos I have had in the past.
One of these was Le Colture Cartizze, a non-vintage spumante made from an estate in Santo Stefano, one of the trio of villages mentioned above. The winery belongs to Cesare and Renato Ruggeri, whose family has owned it since 1500. Le Colture Cartizze opens with scintillating aromas of lime and pear with hints of lemon balm and jasmine, these strands resolving to steel and cloves. Myriad tiny bubbles are like feckless glints of silver in a pale gold column. The wine is crisp and lively, taut with steely acidity; this is not a creamy, dreamy Prosecco such as may come from further east, near the town of Conegliano, but an edgy, nervy thing inspired by the soil and exposure of the hills around Valdobbiadene. It’s pure lemon in all that fruit’s manifestations in the mouth: Spiced, macerated and roasted and charged with a tinge of tangerine and almond, yet these delights bow before the stark elegance of limestone and shale. No, readers, this is no ordinary Prosecco. Excellent. About $30 to $35.
Imported by T. Edwards Wines, New York. A sample from a trade group.