Category: Bele Casel

Burano: A small Venetian island off the beaten path

Burano is one of those places that still retains the magic of another era in Venice.

There are so many incredible things to see in Venice: San Marco square and basilica, the Rialto Bridge, the Guggenheim Museum, the Ghetto… The list goes on and

And of course, one of the best things to do in Venice is to simply get lost as you wander the carless streets and canals.

And of course, there are the many islands on the Venetian lagoon, like Murano where the famous glass-blowers practice their art.

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Prosecco Col Fondo: Differences and similarities with other sparkling wines

The category is more popular than ever but many are still confused about how it is made.

Prosecco Col Fondo is widely considered the new generation of Prosecco. That’s ironic because it’s actually the oldest style of Prosecco production. But like so many new trends in wine today, people — like us — are looking to the past for inspiration.

Here are some Prosecco and sparkling wine basics.

Nearly all sparkling wine is made by fermenting it twice, the second time in a pressurized environment.

Classic method wines and Champagne method wines (Champagne) are made by re-fermenting a still wine in a bottle.

Conventional Prosecco is made by re-fermenting the wine in a pressurized vat. The so-called Charmat or Martinotti method.

Prosecco Col Fondo is made by re-fermenting the wine in bottle.

But there are a couple of big differences with respect to classic method wines.

Classic method wines are made by: 1) making a base wine; 2) provoking a second fermentation in a bottle; 3) aging the wines on its lees in the same bottle; 4) disgorging the wine of its lees and then adding a sweetner (dosage).

Prosecco col fondo is made by making a base wine and then provoking a second fermentation in the same bottle and then sealing the bottle. The wine is never disgorged of its lees and no dosage is ever added. This method is also known as the ancestral method.

Some people confuse pétillant-naturel or pét nat wines with ancestral method wines. Pétillant-naturel wines are made by bottling the wine while it’s still fermenting. So only one fermentation takes place. Not too as for other sparkling wine production methods like those that we have described above.

Here are some links for recent articles about the category.

A great article by Zachary Sussman, one of our favorite wine writers, for Saveur.

Wine Folly, one of our favorite wine blogs, on the “Funky side of Prosecco.”

Asolo is one of Italy’s most beautiful villages

The town is included among the “Borghi Più Belli d’Italia.”

Asolo is pronounced AH-zoh-loh. It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in Veneto, the region where we live, grow our grapes, and make our wine. It’s also the township that gives its name to our wine: Asolo Prosecco (it’s one of the 3 townships where Prosecco DOCG can be made).

And it’s also one of the famous “Borghi Pìu Belli d’Italia,” an official registry and association of the most beautiful Italian villages and towns that have retained their original character. To visit one of the towns in the registry is to take a trip back in time and experience Italy the way it was before the world wars and even beyond.

According to the association’s website, “it was founded in 2001 for the initiative of ANCI (the National Association of Italian Municipalities) with the aim of valorizing and promoting the great historic, artistic and cultural heritage of the Italian small centers. It consists of 281 selected and certified Borghi, whose distinctive trait is BEAUTY and which represent the concept of Made in Italy as an expression of the Italian excellence.”

Of the 20 regions of Italy, the region where we live, Veneto, has ten villages in the registry.

No one knows the exact origin of the town’s name other than the fact that it was known as Acelum in the Roman era and that Roman writers, Pliny included, sang its praises.

Renowned for its spectacular views of the Po River Valley, it was already considered a “gem” of a city during the Middle Ages. And by the Renaissance it had become the favorite summer vacation spot for Queen Catherine Cornaro who held her summer court there. It was there that the great Renaissance Venetian poet Pietro Bembo set his famous “Asolani” (named after the town). In his work, he alternates love poems with prose passages devoted to the notion of Platonic love.

In the last century, many famous people lived and stayed there. The great actress Eleonora Duse is probably the most famous.

Today, Asolo remains one of the most beautiful places in Italy to visit.

To decant or not to decant? That is the Prosecco Col Fondo question.

Some people like their Colfòndo (col fondo) clear, some people like it cloudy.

To decant or not to decant? That’s a question that we get from a lot of wine professionals.

Before the age of the Martinotti/Charmat revolution, when Prosecco began being made in large pressurized and temperature-controlled vats that are ideal for separating the solids from the wine, Prosecco was only sold in demijohns. It’s hard to believe but it’s true: If you visited a restaurant in Venice in the 1960s, Prosecco was served to you in a carafe, never in a bottle. The reasons for this was that the restaurateurs would use the demijohns to separate the solids from the liquid in the wine. That is, back when all Prosecco was “col fondo,” in other words, bottled with its sediment. If the wine had been bottled in a 750 ml bottle, the servers (waiters) would have to stop pouring the wine when it came down to the last glass. They feared that guests would complain that they weren’t be served the entire bottle. So it was much easier to let the wines decant in demijohns and then pour a 750 ml carafe to take to the table.

Above, you can see a the sediment in a bottle of Prosecco Col Fondo that has been stored upright but was then turned upside down after “decanting” in the refrigerator.

Today, with the Prosecco Col Fondo revolution in full force, many sommeliers are wisely storing the bottles upright in a refrigerator so that it naturally separates the solids from the liquid. When they pour the wine, they are careful not to tip it too far so that only the clear wine emerges from the bottle and the sediment stays at the bottle.

But some people like the more savory character of the wine when it’s mixed with its solids. To serve it like this, just gently turn it upside down and then right side up before serving.

Hail, one of the grape grower’s worst nightmares (the good news is…)

Luckily, Bele Casel has been spared from any major hail damage this year.

Hail. Just the sound of the word puts a chill down the grape grower and winemaker’s spine!

Growers in Italy are already deep into hail season, especially in northern Italy, where there has already been some extreme weather this year.

One of the things that has been strange about the weather this year in northern Italy is that there has been a series of heavy rainstorms followed by unusually hot temperatures. A lot of people will tell you that “it’s really hot or it’s really cold” for the season. That’s because the hot and cold weather seem to alternate in a pattern that few recognize as normal.

Hail is particularly dangerous for wine grapes and crops in general because it generally moves sideways and doesn’t just fall straight from the sky to the ground. As a result, a heavy hail storm can really take a toll on the newly formed grape bunches.

The other problem is that it is hard and sharp. And that’s the major issue: It can break the skins of the grapes. And that’s when the real problems begin. Not only do you lose the fruit that was directly affected by the hail but you also have to deal with the rot and mildew that can emerge after the storm.

There’s usually rain with hail and the hail ultimately melts anyway. As a result the humidity level in the vineyards becomes excessive and creates conditions that can lead to rot and mildew. When you add the broken skins to that equation, even a small hailstorm can affect a large parcel of fine wine grapes and vines.

The good news is that Bele Casel has been really fortunate this year, despite the strange weather. So far, the winery hasn’t had any major damage. Just a few rows have been affected so far and the problem was easily contained.

Keep praying for us! We’re not “out of the woods” yet!

Sparkling wine for a sparkling Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day to all our friends in America!

Sparkling wine always makes the party better. And there’s no better holiday to sparkle than the Fourth of July, Independence Day, the national holiday commemorating the birth of the United States of America in 1776. It’s the day when America adopted the Declaration of Independence and asserted its own sovereignty (for those of you not familiar with American history).

And although you may call us biased, we believe there’s no better sparkling wine for your Fourth of July bbq than Prosecco!

Here are just some of the reasons why:

1. Prosecco is arguably America’s favorite bubbly wine. After nearly three decades since it first became popular in the U.S., Americans drink more Prosecco than any other wine in the sparkler category.

2. Prosecco is extremely versatile at the dinner table. No matter what you’re cooking for your Fourth of July party, Prosecco’s vibrant acidity and classic citric flavors go great with a wide variety of foods. We are particularly fond of Prosecco paired with tangy bbq sauce, among other classic dishes served for the holiday.

3. Prosecco isn’t expensive. When you’re entertaining for your Fourth of July celebration (or you’re heading to someone else’s July 4 party), you need a wine that’s not going to break the bank. You need a wine that a lot of people will like but that doesn’t cost too much. Prosecco fits the bill (excuse the pun) perfectly.

4. Prosecco is a wine for summer. Low in alcohol and always fresh on the nose and on the palate, Prosecco is the kind of wine you can enjoy liberally without being overwhelmed by the alcohol. We always recommend drinking in moderation but when it comes to Prosecco, you can enjoy the wine without being weighed down by too much alcohol.

Happy Fourth of July to all of our friends in America! Wishing you a sparkling Independence Day!

Zeolite: Often used to enhance soil and root health, it also helps to heal damaged plants.

At Bele Casel, we are always looking for ways to enhance our vineyard’s health without the use of chemicals.

Zeolite. Most people know it through gardening and other types of farming. It’s usually used to improve the health of the soil (by helping it more easily retain nutrients and water). But it can also be used to help heal vines that have been damaged.

Zeo from the Greek zeo meaning “to boil”; -lite from the Greek lithus meaning stone.

It’s a category of extremely porous rock. It was discovered by a scientist who noticed that it released steam when heated. Hence the name it was given.

It occurs spontaneously in nature but it can also be synthesized.

It’s used in many different applications in different industries to absorb moisture.

And in farming, it’s often mixed with fertilizer, for example, to help maximize the effect of the fertilizer.

Here at Bele Casel, we used it the other day in one of our vineyards not to enhance the soils but rather to contain damage to the vines from a small hail storm that grazed one of our vineyards.

In medicine, zeolite is used to help stop extreme bleeding. And by scattering some zeolite powder, we help the vines “heal” from the damage itself.

But the powder will also help to reduce humidity and moisture in the vineyard itself by absorbing the moisture. One of the biggest problems after a weather event like this is that the added humidity can create conditions more susceptible to rot. And when the plants have been damaged by hail, this can be extremely dangerous.

So the porous rock helps not only to heal the damaged vines. But it also helps to contain any mold or rot that could develop due to the presence of humidity.

Mariani newsletter recommends Bele Casel Prosecco

The newsletter, edited by the award-winning Italian-American writer John Mariani, is one of the most popular among American food and wine enthusiasts.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to learn that Bele Casel was featured last week in an article on Prosecco by veteran American wine writer Pat Savoie for John Mariani’s celebrated newsletter.

Mariani is one of America’s leading food writers, editors, and experts on Italian wine and food culture. And his newsletter is one of the most popular among American food and wine enthusiasts.

“There is a trend developing in which interest and tastes are moving to more complex, expressive and expensive examples of Prosecco,” writes veteran wine writer Pat Savoie for John Mariana’s Newsletter. These still represent a small portion of sales, but are growing rapidly. The sweet spot for these wines is the small production area of Asolo and Montello, around the towns of Asolo and Montebelluna.

“Asolo is known as the ‘Pearl of Treviso. It and the smaller region of Montello are set at the foot of the Venetian Alps, where the landscape is mountainous to the north while to the south plains slope toward the Venetian Lagoon and Venice, 30 miles away.”

“I visited this area in May as a guest of the Consorzio Vini Asolo Montello and tasted wines from many of the 40 producers (over 85% of total) who are members of the Consorzio. These wines are a step above the rest, with intense freshness, minerality, salinity, and fruit notes.. All are classified as DOCG.”

“From 2013 to 2016 Asolo and Montello Prosecco Superiore DOCG production increased by about 800%, reaching in 2017 a total of over 10.6 million bottles. But only a few producers, many of whom are fairly small, have importers in the U.S., though several are seeking representation.”

Here’s what Pat had to say about Bele Casel and Luca and Paola Ferraro:

Bele Casel – Brother and sister Luca and Paola Ferraro now run the winery that their parents started over three decades ago. Luca makes some fine Proseccos, including the popular Extra Dry (about $15 in U.S.). The wines show the minerality and salinity that are hallmarks of the region.

Click here for the complete article.

Bees in the vineyards: Prosecco Diaries April 2018

As always, there’s a lot of important work to do in April, especially when the rains interrupt the rhythms of the day and they make it impossible to use our tractor. We have a lot of catching up to do in terms of replanting and the spike in temperature at the end of the month is going to make us go without sleep for weeks.

Bees in the vineyard were one of the highlights in the month of April (see below).

April 5: You can definitely feel the biodiversity in our vineyards. Those flowers are wild arugula. You can’t begin to imagine how wonderful it is to smell their fragrance as you walk between the rows. Smells like honey.

April 6: When you walk through our vineyard in Monfumo, you can find seashells like this one.

April 7: We work in the rain as we prune our little Bianchetta Trevigiana vines. They are enjoying the spring!

April 8: “How do grape growers get so strong?” Have you ever tried walking with a ton of dirt stuck to your shoes?

April 9: “Every Prosecco vineyard can be mechanized!” Is that so? Here’s proof. Here we are pruning in our Monfumo vineyard.

Have a look at what we’re doing here. Are we working fast enough in your opinion?

13 Aprile: E’ arrivata la primavera…

April 15: Vinitaly is here!

April 17: Work in the vineyard never ends. Here we are cleaning up between the rows in our Cornuda vineyard.

April 20: The famous break following Vinitaly! It’s time to substitute the vines that have died with new plantings of Glera in our Cornuda vineyard.

April 21: Anyone who’s ever met Luca will understand how tall these flowers are! This is our vineyards in Prà Grande. We have decided to let the flowers grow and let the bees collect their nectar for as long as they want. It’s perfect because we can’t use our tractors in this vineyard anyway. Everything has to be done by hand. You have no idea how wonderful it is to walk through this marvelous site when the only sound you can hear is the buzzing of the insects. There’s a reason why they call these hills the “Silent Hills.”

April 22: The bees are so important to the well being of our vineyards. Here’s a bee in our Prà Grande vineyard, enjoying our cover crop flowers.

April 24: Due Rocche will come by to see us tomorrow at our Cornuda vineyard.

April 25: Happy (Italian) Liberation Day!

Rabbiosa, Marzemina Bianca, Perera, and Bianchetta: The “Other” Grapes in Prosecco

We all know Glera but what are the other grapes that can go into Prosecco?

Rabbiosa, Marzemina Bianca, Perera, and Bianchetta are some of the traditional Prosecco grapes that we grow in our vineyard in Monfumo, the parcel used to make our Colfòndo and one of our favorite vineyards (and most beautiful!).

Click here to see a Facebook album with images of all the grapes above.
When we say “we grow them” we should really say that “we found them growing there.”

When we purchased this historic vineyard a few years ago, it had vines that had been growing there for literally more than 100 years. And one of the most interesting things about the site and one of the things that made it so attractive to us is that it was planted in a time before Prosecco was such a big part of the Italian wine world.

Back then, farmers would plant mostly Glera, the top grape for the appellation. But they would also plant other white grape varieties, like the ones mentioned above.

The wisdom was as follows. In most vintages, Glera will deliver a healthy and robust yield of grapes. But in challenging vintages, it might be the other grape varieties that perform better and deliver better fruit. So in a way, it was kind of like the farmer’s insurance policy. She or he knew that a consistent yield could be obtained in nearly any vintage, despite challenging weather conditions.

Here at Bele Casel, we love tracing the flavors in our wines back to the Prosecco of generations past. After all, our grandfather was a grape grower and a winemaker and our father makes our wines today.

We feel that in a way, our Colfòndo, because it’s made using a “field blend,” is one of our most traditional and authentic wines.

Did you know that Rabbiosa, btw, is known as Durello in other parts of Italy?

Thanks for reading!