This was my first time in Prosecco country. Prosecco is a phenomenon. It has come from almost nowhere to being one of the most visible of all sparkling wines (selling around 550 million bottles a year). Such has been its success that the Italian authorities even managed to change the name of the grape from Prosecco to Glera, so that they could protect the name (you can’t protect the name of a grape variety).
There’s good Prosecco and then there’s less good Prosecco, as with any wine region. The producer I visited, Canevel, is one of the good ones, working with decent hillside vineyards. I visited with Carlo Caramel: until recently, his family owned Canevel, but they recently sold to Masi, although Caramel has stayed on as boss. His father, Mario, had started the business in 1979.
They make only sparkling wines: they tried making still wines before, but they had trouble selling them. They grow their own grapes but also buy in about 70% of their needs from local growers.
The grapes here are hand harvested in small cases of 15-20 kg. Once they get to the winery they are pressed with maximum 1 atmosphere pressure. The juice is then kept at 15 C overnight. Enzymes are used to help settle the juice and they are aiming at a turbidity of 20-30 NTUs. In the past it used to be common to go to 5-10 NTU but this was too clear. The next day it is pumped to tank for the first fermentation, which takes 10-15 days.
They use different yeast strains, depending on where the grapes are from. For example, in Faé which has no residual sugar, they need to use special yeasts that make the wine taste longer, to make up for the lack of sugar. They are also trying to find yeasts that produce antioxidant compounds so they can use fewer sulfites. For example, they want the yeasts to autolyse faster and let glutathione out, which protects against oxygen. This is an interesting project that no one else has done here yet. To do this they are working with small pressurized fermenters to get the yeasts to autolyse quicker: for example, six months as opposed to five years. They are adding more yeasts, and they have found there are strains that are richer in amino acids.
‘Instead of working with chemistry we are working with biology,’ says Carlos. ‘It is a new way of thinking. We have to try and try and try because there is no bibliography.’
Canevel Extra Dry Prosecco 2017
100% Glera from the DOC area. Grapes from the flats. 15 g/litre sugar. Fresh and pure with nice pear and peach fruit, as well as some appley notes. Grapey and attractive with nice purity. Typical. 87/100
Canevel Valdobbiadene Vigneto del Faè Spumante Dossagio Zero Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017
This is very bright and transparent with good acidity and a subtle green leafy edge to the lemony fruit, with some apple and pear, and nice precision. Tastes a little tart but it’s really refreshing and bright. Lean and quite savoury with subtle herby notes. 90/100
Canevel Valdobbiadene Brut Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017
10 g/l rs. This has nice freshness and precision with fresh pear, citrus and ripe apple notes. Admirable purity and focus with a well integrated dosage that fits in very nicely. Fruity and appealing, this is benchmark Prosecco. 90/100
Canevel Valdobbiadene Extra Dry Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017
16 g/l rs. This is pure with nice fruit. Pear and citrus with some subtle sweetness, adding some apricot and peach fruitiness. This has a nice harmony to it and the sugar integrates well. 90/100
Canevel Valdobbiadene Campofalco Spumante Biologico Brut Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017
A steep vineyard worked by hand, farmed organically. It’s surrounded by forests so nature makes this easier. Mostly Glera with some Verdizzo and Biancetta. This is taut, precise and linear with lovely freshness and purity. Lovely taut herbal complexity with some nice depth. This stays in the tank longer, resulting in more richness and a different profile, with a bit of autolysis. Hints of cream on the finish. Very stylish. 92/100
Canevel Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze DOCG
This is 100% Glera grown on the Cartizze hill, which is 106 hectares, owned by many people. The land cost per hectare would be astronomical if anyone was selling. There is no market for grapes but it would be 4.5 Euros a kilo. 25 g/l rs. Lovely complex ripe peach, tangerine and pear fruit. This has brightness and freshness with a rounded, fruity personality: it should taste a lot sweeter with this dosage, and has a nice saline undercurrent. This has a lovely expressive fruity character, which apparently is consistent among most Cartizze producers. This is a lovely wine. 92/100
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See also: Visiting Masi, Valpolicella