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What is Prosecco?

Glera Grapes
Astoria Wine Cellars

The Prosecco grape originated during Roman times and is one of the oldest grapes in Italian history. Its origin and name can be traced back to the town of Prosecco in Trieste. Prosecco grapes are transformed into sparkling wine using the Charmat method in which stainless steel tanks and yeast are utilized to produce a natural second fermentation. The process takes approximately 60 days depending on acidity, residual sugar and pressure. The Charmat method allows Prosecco to preserve its original flavors and perfumes longer. Prosecco is traditionally a dry wine with hints of apple and citrus.

Prosecco received its first level of national recognition in 1969 when it was awarded a D.o.c, Denominazione di Origine Controllata. The D.o.c status protected a small area of production and ensured Prosecco a level of pres- tige in the Italian wine community. Prosecco’s popularity has increased rapidly over the last ten years, particularly in Europe and the United States.

After a large number of Prosecco imitations sprung up around the world, the Prosecco Consortium decided to reorganize the production of Prosecco in order to protect the quality, prestige and reputation of the vine. The Ital-ian Agriculture Ministry approved the changes on July 17, 2009, tightening controls and endorsing changes to the region, such as zoning, bottling con- trol and production supervision. Prosecco is no longer a wine, but a precise wine-producing region. This shift brought with it a new classification of Prosecco as a D.o.c denomination that replaced all previous IGT proseccos, and a D.o.c.g denomination, which replaced all previous D.o.c wines.

A D.o.c.g, Donominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (denomination of controlled and guaranteed origins), is the most prestigious category of Italian wine. Currently there are only 40 D.o.c.g wines in Italy. The new D.o.c.g zone encompasses the 15 communes between Conegliano and Val- dobbiadene, the towns historically known as Prosecco towns. One of the biggest changes to Prosecco is its name; the grape will henceforth be referred to as “Glera.” If the wine is produced in the D.o.c and D.o.c.g regions, it can be referred to as Prosecco. Dry, sparkling white wines pro- duced outside of the designated region will be referred to as Italian table wine. The new laws also restrict blending opportunities. In order to be called “Prosecco,” the wine can only be mixed with a maximum 15% of Ver- diso, Bianchetta, Perera, Chardonnay and Glera Lunga, grape varieties that have been present in the region for centuries. Prosecco can no longer be blended into a Rose wine, such as a Rosecco.