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A top-end Prosecco from Valdobbiadene, this is a lemon and spiced-pear-scented delight, with a plush, just off-dry, creamy texture.
Product Code: SG2981
View all products by Primo Franco
The DOCG zone of Prosecco Superiore is on a hilly strip of land beside the Piave river, between the small towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene and equidistant between the Dolomites and the Adriatic. Valdobbiadene is the heart of production with a concentration of hill slopes up to 500 metres, with the best wines coming from the slopes of the hill of Cartizze, where the wines were traditionally sweet. Primo Franco, whose family started a Prosecco house in 1919, began his own winery in 1973 and has become a trailblazer for the very best of traditional Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, though made using the most up-to-date technology. These traditional Proseccos exhibit 27 to 30g/l residual sugar, but because they are based on top quality base wine from great terroir they show great balance and are capable of lasting up to 30 years, as a vertical tasting in October 2014 of all the wines Primo has made since 1983 showed. They use no sulphites now, nor do they rack the wine after fermentation preferring to leave the wine on its lees, which act as an antioxidant and add texture and complexity.
Three regions constitute this wide and varied area. In the very north-east, abutting Slovenia and Croatia lies Friuli-Venezia Giulia. South and east of Venice spreads the broad swathe of the Veneto, one of Italy’s main wine producing areas in terms of volume. Finally, falling from the foothills of the Dolomites is Trentino-Alto Adige.Since the 1970s Friuli-Venezia Giulia has earned a fine reputation for high-quality white wines and a burgeoning one for reds. Most of the estates here are family owned with some co-operatives dotted around. Much of the inland area is hilly or mountainous with flatter vineyards sited around the Isonzo River as it comes down to the sea. The two principal white wine making areas are the Friuli Colli Orientali in the north-west and Collio Goriziano in the centre and east around the curve of the Slovenian border. The Orientali vineyards are in the lee of the Julian Alps and are cooler than the vineyards of Collio Goriziano though they are protected from northerly winds and have a more continental climate. They sit at altitudes of between 330 and 1200 metres on soils that were once beneath the ocean, so marl and sandstone predominate. The Collio Goriziano vineyards enjoy slightly greater influence from the Adriatic to the south, though the cool air draining from the higher ground in the north plays its part, and the vineyards sit upon the many steep slopes in this hilly country.Pinot grigio was an early success here and is still widely made, but chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot bianco have joined local varieties like tocai fiuliano, picolit and verduzzo in producing some of Italy’s freshest and most interesting white wines. Local varieties like schioppetino and refosco have struggled to find an audience outside of the region in the past though this is changing, and some Bordeaux blends from the Grave region of free draining alluvial soils are making people sit up and take notice.Trentino-Alto Adige was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and in the northern parts of the province (Alto Adige) German is still widely spoken. Indeed, the architecture, food and customs owe much to their Teutonic roots and there are elements that remain in the vineyards that echo a Germanic past. Riesling is planted here and the village of Tramin gave its name to the gewürztraminer grape which is now so widely planted in another region with Germanic influences, Alsace. To reinforce that comparison, sylvaner, muscat, müller-thurgau and pinot gris (grigio) are also to be found here. Alto Adige is also known as the Süd-Tyrol (South Tyrol) and lies on the border with Austria and is Italy’s most northerly wine region. Here the vines grow in the foothills of the Alps, on the lower slopes along the Adige Valley. Altitudes vary between 200 and 1000 metres. White wines made the reputation of the region for their lively, fresh purity but reds are grown here too. Schiava and the burlier lagrein are the indigenous varieties much used here, though bracing cabernet sauvignon and merlot wines are made from plantings that can struggle to ripen and escape some greenness. Some very fine pinot noir wines are having an impact for their high-class and poise.The Veneto is something of a vinous bread basket. The soils are fertile, which is not usually propitious for fine wine production, and officially permitted yields are unacceptably high. The region produces enormous quantities of everyday wines for exporting and blending but also embraces the Valpolicella region where the jewel in the crown is Valpolicella Amarone, the sweetly rich, full-bodied expression of semi-dried corvina and rondinella grapes that is sought after the world over. Though bulk production, particularly through large and highly-efficient co-operatives, is still prevalent the improvements in winemaking and viticulture are clear, and there are many producers in formerly workaday DOCs like Valpolicella and Soave who are turning their corvina, rondinella, garganega and trebbiano di lugana (turbiano) grapes into vinous gems. Prosecco is also produced here from the glera grape in the hills around Conigliano almost due north of Venice, and is something of a worldwide phenomenon in terms of sales volume. As ever, there is a lot of basic fizz but the producers who take a little more care in vineyards and wineries are making delicious bubblies at all price levels.
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midweekwines.co.uk 30th Jul 2020
"We step up in quality
(and inevitably price) to some of the best prosecco in this category with a
version that has complexity, aging potential, extra lees-derived richness and a
higher sweetness level that seems to be concealed by the wine’s overall
delicacy and ripeness.
[This wine] is an absolute star with smooth pear, apple and apricot flavours, a
floral background, modest zesty lemon acidity, spicy texture and as balanced as
a tightrope walker. - Brian Elliott"
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