What a brand Prosecco is, eh? You can’t move a muscle in a wine aisle without seeing all these labels and discounts and offers flying at you. The UK loves its bubbles and the boom in Prosecco in the last 10 years has been as unprecedented as it is quite clearly unsustainable. Huge swathes of industrial land in North East Italy has now been signed off as “Prosecco” territory, with most producing bog standard paint stripper that’s got some bubbles in it, so job done I guess.
But a recent trip I took to the small DOCG of Asolo in the heartland of old Prosecco proved to me there’s still a beating heart of producers making the quality of wines that will keep this quintessential Italian bubbles in the hearts of wine lovers for many years to come.
WHAT’S ITALIAN FOR TERROIR?
The producers I met here are genuinely enthusiastic about showing the world their product. While their industrial, bulk-producing neighbours in the flats and valleys would prefer you didn’t see what they’re doing, the producers of Asolo are keen to show of the terroir, the gorgeous rolling hills, and the…shock…old vine Glera!!!
My first trip with Bele Casel had me bumping down the road to the vineyards in an old school Fiat 500. My time at Villa Sandi had me saddled up and cycling through the vineyards to get a closer look. It’s the land here that gives them the edge over the generic fizz, and they can’t wait to show it off.
TOURIST BOARD ITALY
It’s also picture-postcard beautiful round here. Sounds a bit ropey, but when the plague used to hit Venice, all the rich buggers would head inland to their country retreats….in and around Asolo. So you can’t move for stately villas and gorgeous town squares.
I did a cheeky tasting on the second morning at the trade associations headquarters. Not a terrible view of the UNESCO town of Asolo from the window, I think you’ll agree J
WINE AT THE FRONT LINE
I’m an incredibly amateur history buff. So when I hear historical related facts about and area, I near as damn it lose my shit if I’m honest. And what a place Asolo is for that.
Asolo is separated from the other (larger) DOCG of Prosecco, Conegliano-Valdobiaddene, by the Piave River. During World War One it was the front line, with the Italians dug into Asolo, and the Austro-Hungarians on the other side. Wandering round the cellars of Villa Sandi and hearing how the wine got cleared out for the Italian Army to use as an HQ was magical for me. I am that weird, but I don’t care.
Wonder if all the wine made it back into the cellars after the Italian victory in the 1918 Battle of Piave? Doubt it! 😉
I visited Asolo in mid September 2018. A full trade-focused write up of the trip will be arriving shortly on The Buyer.
My first love in wine is always Piemonte. It’s where, about 15 years ago, I first stood in a vineyard and thought; “this is a bit of alright, isn’t it?” Over the years I’ve made my way through countless bottles of Barbera, Dolcetto, and Arneis, even the occasional Barolo or Barbaresco when the wallet stretched that far!
Someone once said that wine is a mixture of art, geography, science, and history. Like one of those things and you’ll like wine. Like all of them and you’ll be gripped for life. I’ll not lie, the jury’s still out on geography, but the rest of them I’m all over like a cheap suit. So when we recently got a chance to do a bit of culture vulture’ing up in the stunning, rolling hills of Abruzzo, it was pretty immense.
I saw this one in the press this last week just gone, and I reminded myself about it today as I was chatting with a winemaker from Friuli, the spiritual home of top drawer Pinot Grigio. Asda, one of the big four supermarkets in the UK, have devised an interesting way of getting around the rising price of the UK’s tipple of the decade, Prosecco…
A wine I tried recently was a sparkling Zinfandel rosé from Blossom Hill. Blossom Hill is a massive American wine brand, churning out millions of bottles a year to the wine drinkers of the world. They specialize in crowd pleasers because, let’s be fair, they have to. Problem with crowd pleasers is that they’re usually not that exciting, and usually well avoided by people who are into wine for a few reasons. But this one was a bit different.
Trying to meet up with mates that you know through wine can be tough, especially when they’re as busy as my mate Peter. He’s got tastings or trips on pretty consistently these days, so the only chance I had to catch up with him was to follow him down to an Italian wine tasting do put on by the fine people at Enotria & Coe, one of the biggest importers of top Italian wine in the UK. I walked in and they introduced their “Tre Bicchieri” range to me. “Very nice” I said, not knowing what the heck that meant…I got there in the end!
I’m assuming that most of you will have watched Pulp Fiction before. Probably still up there as one of my favourite films going. The dialogue is what carries it, as it’s almost impossible to think of a scene that isn’t instantly quotable. One of the most iconic though is when Samuel L Jackson character, Jules, is asking a (soon to be dead) interviewee what Marsellus Wallace looks like. He’s so nervous that he keeps on saying “What?!”, which is pisses off Jules somewhat, and he gets dared, at gunpoint, to “say ‘what’ one more time, I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker!”. Well recently I’ve felt Jules pain a bit…