My first experience indulging in any form of adult beverage occurred as a 12 year old on New Years with my parents. One sip of Asti Spumante from Northern Italy and I was giddy with excitement. Carbonated bubbles paraded around on my palate with a flavor that washed down all too easy. I was laughing and dancing hysterically and surely not out of drunkenness. I felt elated that my parents considered me to be sophisticated enough to sip and celebrate with their level of maturity.
Years later I am in Italy. My career revolves around the vines and we are heading north to Prosecco country. As we twist and turn through the terrain, I nostalgically reminisce those innocent years and time with my family. Wine has become much more serious to me since then. Strangely enough, this journey to visit our sparkling wine producer does not hit home with me as a “zippity do da I’m going back to my childhood” type moment. A fizzy aromatic white compared to the Tuscan stallion, Brunello? I’m thinking this will seem like a piece of rubbery chicken after the filet mignon we indulged in already. Thankfully I was pleasantly surprised and my world view completely turned upside down.
I had fallen victim to the same Prosecco mentality that the majority of sparkling wine consumers today are guilty of. Its Prosecco. Tank fermented, not even produced in the Méthode Champenoise (traditional method of allowing secondary fermentation to occur in the bottle i.e. quality Champagne from France). Why wouldn’t I just promote the cheapest brand in our portfolio? The $9.99 or less is what we are all picking up off of the shelf and they all taste the same right? Wrong! See below. Two more quick confessions that explain my previous naiveté with this style of wine. #1 I typically avoided sparking wine like the plague because one sip usually translates to an excruciating headache the next day. #2 As a 19 year old waitress for the snooty tooty Laguna Beach crowd, I once opened a bottle of Champagne in an explosive manner for a guest and have shied away from popping the bubbles ever since. A decade later and I’m still traumatized.
I am beyond thrilled to report that I drank Prosecco all evening at Col Vetoraz and enjoyed every sip. I awoke the next morning feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to take on the world as a migraine free individual. The afternoon prior, our tour had arrived with insatiable appetites for food and wine. I took in the beauty of the steep, cliff-like terrain filled with perfectly arranged rows of vines. This mineral rich northern soil claims itself as the Valdobbiadene region of Prosecco. All of the wines produced by Col Vetoraz are of DOCG status… translation: Forget the surgeon general’s ‘warning’, this is the ultimate stamp of approval from the top Italian authority. We migrated from entry level to cream of the crop in a matter of minutes. With each sip, a common thread streamed through each wine. Almost to the point of infinitesimal, the effervescent bubbles created a cream-like mousse in the glass. Silky and seductive, I certainly experienced fifty shades of delight. I quickly learned that the method of tank fermentation did not imply cheapness on the part of the winery but rather helps preserve the fruity and mineral rich aromatics that Prosecco creates. If undergoing the traditional Champagne method, too much contact with the yeasts would dissolve these bright, fruity nuances. We slowly climbed up the ladder to different levels of sweetness and climaxed with ‘Cartizze’… a grape growing area barely representing a pin on the map but denotes the finest quality from the all encompassing Veneto region. The education surely increased my excitement; however, I was walking away in awe based off of the quality in the glass alone. Absolutely stunning!
Although still a New Years favorite of mine, sparkling wines of this quality are much more versatile these days than a means to celebrate with. While in New Orleans a few weeks ago, I craved Col Vetoraz to wash down fresh oysters with. If curious about the range of foods to drink these wines with, see my previous post here. http://eatwellwithwine.com/?s=no+fuss+appetizers+with+sparkling+wine&submit=Search