Category: Bele Casel

DOCG vs. DOC Prosecco: Top wine writers spar over Prosecco’s place in the world of wine

Prosecco is one of the wine world’s most lucrative categories. It can cause tempers to flare.

DOCG Prosecco is grown in the morainic hills of Conegliano, Valdobbiadene, and Asolo townships. DOC Prosecco is grown in the valley floor of Treviso province. This week, two of the world’s top wine writers — Master of Wine Richard Hemming and Walter Speller, both contributors to JancisRobinson.com — addressed the roles of the two categories in the wine world today. We highly recommend reading both posts.

In his article, Hemming bemoans the commercialization of Prosecco, including the ways that the wine has been co-opted in a wide variety of commercial products that have nothing to do with wine or dining.

“What do lip balm, bath salts, chocolates, scented candles, tea bags and jam have in common?” he writes in “The bottom end of sparkling.”

“They’ve all co-opted Prosecco into unlikely product extensions,” he notes.

“Once trumpeted as the preferable alternative to boring old champagne, too much Prosecco has decomposed into something cheap and tasteless. So how has Prosecco become the slut of sparkling, lending its name to anything that can hold liquid?” he asks.

It’s a really compelling piece that traces the arc of Prosecco’s rise in the sparkling world.

Speller, on the other hand, seemed to take issue with Hemming’s omission of the DOCG producers and growers in his piece.

Referencing the passage quoted from Hemming above in the title — “In defence of sluts” — Speller writes:

“Although it is hardly rocket science, most wine professionals, including many in the UK, seem unable to grasp the difference between Prosecco DOC and Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG… The first is vast; the second is tiny, with different production regulations, lower yields and higher quality. (Incidentally, the latter is also working towards 100% sustainability, with the future prospect of becoming 100% organic.) But all this, I suspect, doesn’t fit in the UK Prosecco narrative, because none of this is even once mentioned in Richard’s article.”

Both pieces are extremely interesting and engaging. We are big fans of Jancis Robinsons’ site and we recommend both articles to you! As producers of organically farmed DOCG Prosecco, we believe that both arguments are key to understanding Prosecco today.

Thanks for reading!

Veneto, the land of the “love people” (a Valentine’s Day post)

Many believe that the name of our region comes from Venus.

Veneto: It’s a place name — a toponym — that has many different meanings.

It can mean the region of Italy where we live, a region that includes famous cities like Venice (which shares its name with the region’s name), Verona, and Cortina d’Ampezzo, just to name a few. Treviso, the city and province where we live, is also very famous in Italy although not as famous beyond Italy.

It can mean the dialect of our region. Every city and every township has its own dialect, often very different from other cities and townships. But there is a regional continuity among them. When people who are not from our region hear us speaking in dialect, they say that we are speaking “Veneto.”

But the term is also an ethnonym, in other words, the name of a person who comes from our region. In Italian the people of our region are known as the “veneti”, the plural of the name in Italian grammar.

The truth of the matter is that no one really knows where the word comes from. But some linguists believe that it might come from the name Venus and perhaps from a cult that worshipped the goddess there in antiquity.

And the people of our region are known for the romantic character. It’s no coincidence that Venice is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world. It was once also a “sin city” where a lot of romance used to happen, if you get our drift!

And of course, what other city in the world could be the backdrop for Shakespeare’s most romantic play, “Romeo and Juliet.” They were “veneti” too!

That’s Juliet’s balcony in the photo above. Every year, thousands of lovers visit the courtyard of her house to inscribe their names along the walls of the entrance. Can you think of a more romantic setting?

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone, from the land of the love people!

Frittelle, the famous fried fritters of Venice and official food of Carnevale

It wouldn’t be Carnevale in Venice with this dish!

Frittelle is the Italian word. Fritole is the Venetian dialect word for this wonderful dish.

Fried dough, fritters in English, dusted with powdered sugar are served in Venice, the Veneto region, and across Italy during the period of Carnevale, which ends on Mardi Gras (or Martedì Grasso in Italian), Feast Tuesday, next week.

It is one of the Veneto region’s most beloved dishes but it is only prepared and served at this time of year.

To prepare them, you essentially make a batter using flour, eggs, butter, milk, and beer yeast. You can add vanilla bean to flavor the batter and you can also add raisins (ideally golden raisins) to give the fritters more flavor and more sweetness.

You then fry them in oil. You can use extra-virgin olive oil (which is what will give them the best flavor in our humble opinion). But you can also use vegetable oil or peanut oil, which is considered to be the “cleanest” of frying oils.

It’s one of those ubiquitous dishes this time of year and it just seems to pair really well with the cold weather and the festive mood of Carnevale.

And of course, what better wine to pair with a dish like this — a super traditional Veneto dish — than Prosecco. Our recommendation would be to pair with a Prosecco Extra Dry: The gentle sweetness works well with this dish. But they are so savory in character that you can also go with a much drier style of Prosecco (at the end of the day, we always love our Prosecco Colfòndo with everything!).

The one thing about fritole is that you have to eat them piping hot, right out of the frier! That’s when they are the best.

Happy Carnevale, everyone! And happy Mardi Gras!

Image via the Treviso Province Independent Grape Growers Facebook.

Mardi Gras in Venice for Carnevale: The original!

In America we think of New Orleans when we think of the late winter holiday. But the origins are in Venice.

Mardi Gras is around the corner: February 13 to be exact.

And that means that in Venice, they will be partying until dawn. It’s the last day of Carnevale (Carnival), the original late winter/early spring festival that marks the period before Lent.

Translated literally, the name means fat Tuesday. But that’s not the real meaning. The more precise translation would be feast Tuesday.

Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Europe, the Catholic calendar was divided into “fast” or “Lenten” days and “feast” days.

On fast days, you weren’t allowed to eat any milk, meat, or eggs. Even today, although we Catholics don’t observe the rigid calendar that Catholics followed hundreds of years ago, there are still many of them who do not eat meat on Fridays, for example. And of course, you are not supposed to eat meat on Good Friday (Holy Friday for Catholics in Italy, as it is called there) or Christmas Eve.

The Feast Tuesday of Carnevale is the last feast day before the Catholic period of Lent, the period that leads up to Easter, when you are not supposed to eat meat, from Ash Wednesday until Easter (it’s a form of “self-denial”).

Many believe that the origin of Carnevale was the fact that people wanted to party, to indulge before the period of Lent. Of course, Carnevale is also associated with ancient pagan winter festivals that marked the end of the cold weather.

Whether you are in Venice or New Orleans this year on Mardi Gras, be sure to drink a glass of Prosecco! That’s the unofficial wine of Venice and it’s the wine that a lot of folks will be drinking to celebrate!

Valentines Day: The perfect holiday for Prosecco!

There’s no holiday better for sharing a great glass of wine.

Valentines Day, February 14, is around the corner and many of you will be heading out to dinner with or preparing a special dinner for a partner and loved one. And of course, what would a romantic holiday like this one be without wine.

There’s no more romantic thing to drink than wine. And when it comes to wine, sparkling is arguably the most romantic of all!

Why is that? Sparkling wine has always been associated with celebration and sophistication and great style. And sparkling wine also has its titillating bubbles to put you in the mood!

Here are some of the reasons we feel strongly that Prosecco is a great wine for the holiday.

1) Prosecco is low in alcohol. When it comes to an intimate holiday like this, you don’t want to feel the weight of the alcohol.

2) Prosecco is extremely versatile at the dinner table. It makes for a great pairing with nearly anything you could be serving, from Mexican and Asian to all-American fried chicken.

3) Prosecco isn’t overly expensive. Especially if you’re staying in for the holiday, you might even want to open a second bottle.

4) Prosecco is one of the few wines that you can pair with desserts, sweets, and chocolates and candies. Especially when it comes to wines like our Prosecco Extra Dry, the sweetness of the dish won’t overwhelm the wine (why people pair red wine with chocolates has always been a mystery to us!).

5) Prosecco just looks lovely on the dinner table and its color in the glass always adds to any festive occasion.

All in all, you can’t go wrong with Prosecco when it comes to sharing a special evening with your significant other. Who doesn’t like Prosecco? We think you already know the answer to that one!

Happy Valentines Day, everyone! Buon San Valentino a tutti!

Venice: How to avoid the tourist trap

The City on the Lagoon doesn’t have to be an expensive date.

Venice is one of the world’s most popular tourist spots. But it’s also one of the most expensive.

We recently read a story in the Guardian about a group of tourists in Venice being charged an exorbitant amount of money for their meal. Unfortunately, it’s something that happens often. And the likelihood that it will happen only increases when it comes to tourists that don’t speak Italian.

In fact, even Italians are treated poorly by some restaurants. It’s a complicated problem!

Venice exists for and by tourism. But it’s also a working, functioning city, with a university and many important businesses (above and beyond the tourist industry).

Venetians often resent the way their city is overrun by visitors every year. And sometimes this leads to unscrupulous business factors. Or at least it can compound it.

Here are some tips about not breaking the bank when you visit.

1) Stay on the mainland where hotels cost a lot less. It’s easy to commute to the city by train. Literally a five-minute trip in some cases.

2) Avoid the restaurants around St. Mark’s Square. It’s all about location when you live on an island. There are a lot of more reasonably priced restaurants in the city’s residential neighborhoods.

3) Venetians typically eat at wine bars, known as a bacaro or cicchetteria. It’s a great way to eat inexpensively and eat exactly the way the locals do!

4) When you do plan to eat in one of the city’s more expensive restaurants, be sure to look up the menu online before you reserve. Know what you’re getting yourself into. The city isn’t really known for its fine dining scene although there are some really great restaurants there as well. For frugal travelers, it’s must better to avoid that splurge meal. A splurge meal there is like three splurge meals anywhere else!

Image via Sackton’s Flickr (Creative Commons).

Nocciola, a stellar restaurant and wine list in small-town California

Great food and wine isn’t limited to America’s big cities any more.

Nocciola just blew us a way when we check out its food photography.

We were thrilled to learn that our wine is now being served at this wonderful restaurant in Ojai, California. Just have a look for yourself at the restaurant’s website and we know you’ll be impressed as much as are by the quality of the ingredients and the precision of execution.

But what’s more striking is how thoughtful the menu is. Even the name of the venue itself, which means hazelnut in Italian, is a reflection of the heart, soul, and passion that the owners and chef have put into this labor of love.

According to the Wikipedia entry for this beautiful California city in Venura County, Ojai has roughly 7,500 residents. A pretty small town, by any American standard.

It wasn’t so long ago that you had to visit America’s major urban centers — New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles — to find truly great cooking and truly great wine lists. But today, even small towns like this one have been genuine culinary meccas.

We were equally impressed by the superb wine list, which has one of the best sparkling sections. The list is tight and tidy but every wine on it is a winner. And wow, what great company for our bubbles, including favorite Franciacorta and Champagne.

We can’t recommend it enough to you and we are so psyched that our wine made it on the list at this truly stand-out restaurant on the California coast. Even 20 years ago, no one would have thought that you would find cooking like this in such a small town.

It’s great to be part of this food and wine revolution and renaissance!

Nocciola
restaurant website
314 El Paseo Rd.
Ojai CA 93023
(805) 640-1648
Google map

Subsoil in Prosecco: “The story of a ditch” and a wonderful post by FIVI Treviso

There’s no better way to understand subsoil than by rolling up your sleeves and digging a ditch!

“The Story of a Ditch: Subsoil explained by the Treviso chapter of the Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers (FIVI).”

“Excuse me… but what are you guys doing?”

“We’re digging a ditch.”

Ahem.

People around here say little but work hard.

Is it just any old ditch? Let’s see.

We’re in Monfumo, in the Asolo hills. It’s an enchanting location where you can hike, bike, and take in the sights. It’s a pristine area with woods, rolling hills, and wonderful silence.

Every so often, you come across an old tavern where time stands still. And there are even a few fancy restaurants as well.

This “ditch” says it all. It tells the story of soil rich with rocky sediment, layers of sand and limestone, and a mineral-rich topsoil. These zones stay cool thanks to the air currents that arrive from Mt. Grappa.

This land is the source of our pride.

This is where we make and raise truly distinctive wines that couldn’t be produced anywhere else.

And this, too, is FIVI — the Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers.

Image and text by Vignaioli Indipendenti Trevigiani, the Treviso province chapter of the Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers. Translation from the Italian by our English-language blogmaster.

Waterboy: The quintessence of great American cuisine in Sacramento

The Waterboy isn’t just one of the best restaurants in California. It’s one of the best restaurants in the United States.

For 20 years, the chef and owner of The Waterboy in the California state capital, Rick Mahan has set the standard for great American cookery.

“Sacramento’s Waterboy restaurant is still top of the list, 20 years in,” wrote Sacramento Bee restaurant reviewer Carla Meyer in her 2016 review of the restaurant.

“In some ways,” she noted, the restaurant exceeded San Francisco expectations,” the benchmark for restaurants in California.

“Highly gifted yet low-key chef/owner Rick Mahan made San Francisco-level food in a space with genuine character.

When he opened his storied venue, Mahan also became one of America’s pioneers in “farm-to-table” or “farm-to-fork” cooking. Today, 20 years after he opened the doors of his restaurant, Sacramento is the nation’s capital for sustainably and locally grown and sourced foods.

“It’s never been easier to provide good food to people,” he said a few years ago in an interview published by legendary American food writer Margo True in Sunset Magazine.

“Eighteen years ago, it was impossible to find anything locally. And in another ten years, it’ll be even better.”

To this day, the restaurant has stuck steadfastly to its original inspiration: southern French and northern Italian gastronomy.

“Mahan’s observance of tradition might not reach to the Roman Empire,” wrote Sacramento Bee reviewer Meyer. “But it goes back nearly four decades, to when Berkeley’s Chez Panisse and other Bay Area restaurants first popularized the idea of mixing fresh, local ingredients, and French and Italian recipes into California Cuisine.”

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to learn that The Waterboy is serving our wine by-the-glass. And we couldn’t be more proud to be part of such a wonderful American tradition in the heart of California farmland. We can think of a better place for our wines to land.

The Waterboy
2000 Capitol Ave.
Sacramento CA 95811
(916) 498-9891
Google map

Image via The Waterboy Facebook.

Flute: Is it the right glass for Prosecco? And what about Prosecco col fondo?

Despite the growing interest in wine and wine education, many still serve Prosecco in a flute.

The flute.

If you came of age in the 1980s or 1990s in America or Italy, you probably first tasted sparkling wine in a flute — the elongated, narrow wine glass with a stem. Many Americans (and Italians for that matter) don’t even remember that sparkling wine, mostly Champagne and Moscato d’Asti, were served in coupes in our parents’ day.

What’s a coupe? It’s a wide-brimmed shallow wine glass with a stem. Today, you still sometimes see desserts served in coupes (especially chilled desserts). But it’s literally been decades since people stopped serving sparkling wine in coupes.

It was during the booming 1980s and 1990s that the flute came into vogue. No one really knows why for sure. Some have speculated that the glass shape came into fashion because a certain glassworks company decided to create a marketing campaign around the glass type. In recent years, wine glass companies have launched scores and scores of new glass shapes, seemingly to accommodate every grape, appellation, and wine style. It’s possible that the popular glass for sparkling wine was created to appeal to the “skinny,” waist-line conscious set of the post-1970s generation. But we digress!

In the land of Prosecco where we live, the traditional glass for Prosecco is known as the goto. Just like the one in the photograph above. It’s what we call in English a tumbler or bistro glass. That’s what Prosecco is typically served in, even today, when you visit the old-line osterias (taverns). And in Italy in general, it’s more likely than not that sparkling wine like Prosecco will be served to you in a white wine glass.

And that’s a good thing!

When poured in a narrow vessel, the tighter diameter of the aperture impedes the aroma of the wine (because it doesn’t allow the wine to breathe properly).

At the Ferraros’ house, they always serve their wines in Bordeaux glasses (even bigger and wider than white wine glasses) because they like the aeration. And most wine professionals do the same today.

Of course, the Ferraros also appreciate the old-school restaurants and taverns where it is still served in the goto.