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.
There are certain people you meet in life that just impress you. When two of them are married to eachother then you’re pretty sure they’ll have achieved something pretty special over the years. That’s definitely true of Roger and Sue Jones, and last week I was lucky enough to be there as they celebrated 20 years of their Michelin Star restaurant, The Harrow at Little Bedwyn, with friends and family. And there were some mighty wines to help us on the way…
Organic? Biodynamic? Women in wine? Castell D’Age, from Penedes in Catalunya, must be right up there as a hashtagger’s dream winery. I met this brilliant team when they were attending the Millsime Bio Organic Wine Fair in Montpellier late in January 2018. Top wines, top people, and the story to boot. I couldn’t not do a quick blog, could I?
Onto February in my top wine memories of 2017, and a British belter for you all from Hampshire. Get stuck into UK bubbles everyone!!
FEBRUARY: Exton Park Brut NV, Hampshire
“February brought a Hampshire Vines tasting at 67 Pall Mall’s downstairs bar, you know, the one they allow the riffraff into.
I’m so pleased to see how well these wineries and vineyards work together, it’s a real lesson for other counties in the UK, and a reason that wine from Hampshire is here to stay. Personal favourites include Exton Park, Cottonworth, and Danebury, but they’ve all got some game!”
Happy New Year everyone!
Sorry it’s been a while since I wrote last, had my head firmly wedged where I’d prefer it not to be sorting out crap logistics companies. 4 weeks of utter shit nearly over and I can get back to writing!! Woohoo!!
The team at The Buyer asked me to write a little bit about my memories of 2017; so here they are, starting with January.
These aren’t always the best wines I tried, but definitely the most memorable each month…enjoy!
JANUARY: Perrier Jouët’s La Belle Epoque 2008
“January’s always a bit of a slow start to the year for the booze trade, but one memorable tasting was up the Gherkin (steady on!) in London with Perrier Jouët’s Belle Epoque Cellar Master, Herve Deschamps.
I’m a grumpy northern bumpkin that hates spending money, but when you try this level of quality you can’t help but take the price tag with a pinch of salt. Every list worth its gravy needs a top Champagne on it, and the available vintages of Belle Epoque would fit the bill nicely.”
I think Martini’s Asti must be one of my first ever wine related memories. Not drinking, mind you, but I remember my parents buying a few bottles in the 1980s back when as a brand and as a wine it was flying high. As much as sentiment might have changed over the past few years as wine drinkers moved on to the next thing, brand manager Marco Mazzini is gearing this iconic Italian brand up for a revival.