Category: Colfòndo

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.”

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.

Joel Mack, leading American expert on Italian wine, explains Prosecco Col Fondo.

Bele Casel Prosecco Col Fondo: “A merry-go-round of complex aromas and tastes, orchard fruit, rising bread, floral scents, and bread crust.”

Joel Mack, one of America’s leading authorities on Italian wine, published an excellent overview of Prosecco Col Fondo this week in the Italo-Americano.

Here’s an excerpt of his piece (which is only available in print), including a tasting note for Bele Casel Col Fondo. THANK YOU, Joel!

“Col fondo means ‘with sediment,’ that is to say, Prosecco Col Fondo is bottled on its own yeasts, i.e., sur-lie, undergoing a second fermentation in bottle… Yeasts consume sugars, slowly creating carbon dioxide gas and — voilà — bubbles. Spent yeasts remain in bottle, a part of ‘col fondo’ goodness. The result is an intense, complex Prosecco with a decidedly unique personality.”

“Prosecco Col Fondo provides a different sensory experience from Charmat produced Prosecco. If you’re used to the extreme clarity of the latter, don’t be surprised by the beautifully pale Prosecco Col Fondo, a result of its retention of sediment in bottle. Do expect from Prosecco Col Fondo complexity and exquisite texture, notes of bread crust, yeast, ripe fruit and bright acidity.”

“As is true of Prosecco in general, Prosecco Col Fondo is not just for celebratory quaffing. Prosecco are indeed great food wines, cleaning the palate, leaving it refreshed and ready to fully taste next bites. But, I must tell you, Prosecco Col Fondo is truly one of Italy’s ‘pairs with anything’ wines and is to be enjoyed throughout the full meal. Prosecco Col Fondo grandly accompanies foods from gourmet burgers to charcuterie to pasta dishes, fish, and spicy Asian and Indian cuisine.”

And here is Joel’s tasting note for Bele Casel Colfòndo (thank you, Joel!):

“And they say Nebbiolo changes in the glass!? A merry-go-round of complex aromas and tastes, orchard fruit, rising bread, floral scents, and bread crust. Elegant, at moments delicate, with palate-cleansing crispness and splendid texture.”

About Joel Mack, from the about page on his excellent wine blog Vintrospective: “Joel Mack is a freelance journalist and consultant focusing on the wines of Italy. He has studied Italy’s wines, wine regions and native wine grapes at Vinitaly International Academy in Verona, Italy, earning certification as Italian Wine Ambassador.”

Prosecco for Christmas and New Year’s: How to open a bottle of sparkling wine

Prosecco is a go-to during the holidays. Here are a few easy tips for opening and serving the wine.

A lot of us wine lovers will reach for Prosecco this holiday season (including us). It’s important to know how to open a bottle properly and how to serve the wine. Following a few basic rules-of-thumb will only allow you and your guests to enjoy the wine even more.

Let the wine rest in your home a few days before you open it. Prosecco, just like all sparkling and still wine, will taste better when it has some time to rest in your wine cellar or fridge. And in the case of Prosecco Colfòndo, if you store it upright the wine will naturally decant itself, with the sediment gathering on the bottom of the bottle (see below).

Make sure the wine is chilled but not too cold. When the wine is too cold you won’t be able fully to taste its flavor.

Always have a cloth napkin or clean kitchen towel handy when you open a bottle of any wine. You never know when you are going to have a surprise spill (and sometimes sparkling wine can foam up if it’s been inadvertently agitated before opening).

If the wine has a foil capsule, find the tab that will allow you to remove the capsule and gently tear it off.

Before you remove the cage, be sure to keep your thumb over the cork (this is very important; don’t ever remove your hand from the cork until the wine is ready to pour).

It will always take 6 turns to open the cage, turning to the right. This is the case for all sparkling wine. (And don’t forget not to remove your thumb over the cork while removing!)

Once you have removed the cage (slipping it off and returning your thumb over the cork as quickly as you can), place your left hand over the cork and hold it firmly; tilt the bottle to a 45° angle; and then using your right hand, gently turn the bottle from the base. Don’t turn the cork. Turn the bottle (this is the secret). As you gently turn the bottle, keep the pressure on the cork with your left hand. As the bottle turns, the cork will gently expel itself from the bottle.

Don’t serve the wine in flutes (no one does that anymore!). Ideally, use a white wine glass. This will help the wine to express its aroma and flavor.

If you’re serving a Prosecco Colfòndo that you’ve stored upright in the fridge, the sediment will be in the bottom and the wine you pour will be clear. As you get the last glass, you will start to see some sediment. And that means… it’s time to open another bottle!

Happy holidays everyone!

Colfondo: The origin story of this wonderful expression of Prosecco

Colfondo: The origin story by Bele Casel grape grower Luca Ferraro.

I have learned a lot of things from my winemaker friends. I always listen attentively to what they have to say, especially when it comes to older grape growers.

The history of our land is passed down, unbroken, through their stories and their experiences.

Did you know, for example, that our old folks used to call ColFondo el vin de butiglia (wine in a bottle)? They began to call it vin col fondo only after the Martinotti method was introduced. That was when a need for two categories of Prosecco first emerged. [For first-time readers, ColFondo is ancestral method Prosecco; it means literally with sediment.]

But the thing I can’t stop thinking about is the story about ColFondo that winemaker friend of mine told me.

There once was a time, he said, when winemakers made “hard” wines. They were tannic because even the white grapes were macerated with their skins for a few days.

In order to make them more approachable, they would add a little bit of sugar before bottling.

In the spring, when the temperatures would rise, fermentation would begin again and that was how vino col fondo was made.

The people who used to come buy the wine from the wineries began to fall in love with the bubbles and this was how el vin col fondo arrived at its golden age.

Luca Ferraro
grape grower, winemaker

Col Fondo: Does it age well? A favorite wine writer shares her notes.

Prosecco in general is known as a wine that is meant to drink young and fresh. But Col Fondo defies all convention.

There are a number of reasons why Prosecco Col Fondo (like our Colfòndo) can age so well. The most important element is that the wine is aged on its lees. And the lees act as a natural anti-oxidant. We’ve had some really great results with Colfòndo that we have aged in our cellars and we’ve even entertained the idea of doing a Colfòndo vertical tasting at some point in New York. So stay tuned for that!

But in the meantime, we came across this wonderful post by one of our favorite American wine writers, Meg Houston Maker.

In her piece, she shares her tasting notes for a bottle that’s been aging in her cellar.

Thank you, Meg! For tasting the wine and sharing your impressions. Hopefully we’ll get to taste the wine together this year in the States or better yet in Asolo!

“This bottled reposed for a year in my cellar (see the earlier review, linked below),” she writes, “and time has pleasantly elaborated it. The body is cloudy and quiet, and its stony aromatics pose a complement to toasty biscuit and brioche. There’s also abundant almond and almond extract. This carries to the palate, which offers lovely savory leeriness and forest honey notes. Suggestions of hazelnut and deep umami add dimension. The finish is sweet, like sour honey. Really lovely.”

We are so glad you enjoyed the wine! Thank you!

If you have the opportunity to put a couple of bottles aside in your cellar, we are confident that you will be pleased with the results. In our experience, the Colfòndo only gets better and better and more nuanced over the course of time.

Prosecco Colfòndo in Asheville, North Carolina!

Colfòndo in Asheville, North Carolina!

We were thrilled to see that our friend Mike Tiano (above) was pouring our Colfòndo in Asheville, North Carolina at the Asheville Wine Market (one of the coolest wine shops in the southern United States).

Mike works with our importer for the Carolinas, Haw River Wine Man.

It’s incredible to think that a wine like this has traveled so far!

Colfòndo (also written col fondo) is Prosecco made the old-fashioned way.

Most Americans know conventional Prosecco.

Conventional Prosecco made by using Glera grapes to create a base wine. When the wine has stabilized, it is transferred to a large pressurized vat known as an autoclave where sugar and yeast are added to provoke a second fermentation of the wine.

The wine is then stored in the vat until the producer decides to bottle it.

This technique for the production of Prosecco was created in the 1930s and by the post-war era in Italy, it had become the standard for commercially vinified Prosecco. By the 1990s, when the Prosecco boom began, it became the standard-bearer of the appellation and today, millions and millions of wine lovers know it as such.

But Colfòndo was the way Prosecco was originally made. And even though most wineries, including our own, converted to autoclaves, a lot of us continued to make Prosecco using this “old school” method.

For Colfòndo, the base wine is made and then bottled. Then a second fermentation is provoked and the bottle is sealed.

As the second fermentation is completed, the lees — the dead yeast — remains in the bottle and the wine “ages on the lees,” giving it even more mineral flavor and richness in texture.

It’s much more time-consuming to make it this way and it’s not as cost-effective. But this is the way “our fathers made it.”

We still make conventional Prosecco and we are very proud of all of our products of course. But this wine reflects the original tradition of Prosecco.

How cool to see it find its way to Asheville, North Carolina!

Thanks again, Mike!

Giuliani: Our Colfòndo a “prince among Proseccos”

What a thrill to read this tasting note by esteemed Italian wine writer Roberto Giuliani.

Read the original here. Translation by our blogmaster.

Six years have passed since Luca Ferraro suggested that I taste his first bottling of [Prosecco] Colfòndo. At the time, few outside the region were familiar with this category. It’s actually a traditional-style Prosecco that has been revived thanks to passionate winemakers like Luca and a handful of other small producer who understood how important it was to break away from the challenging and often conflicted market for Prosecco.

Their foresight has paid off. Beyond its importance as part of the Asolo DOCG, Colfòndo has made a name for itself and has captured the attention and sparked the curiosity of countless wine lovers.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, Colfòndo is a “frizzante” sparkling wine (only because its atmospheres of pressure are not high enough to qualify it as “spumante” even though the base wine is the same as that used for Luca’s vintage-dated Prosecco). It’s refermented in the bottle and it ages on its lees even after the fermentation process has been completed.

The wine isn’t disgorged. Instead, it’s sealed with a mushroom cork and a cage. And it’s important to note that it’s not filtered before bottling. Thus, the lees-aged wine retains its rich expression of varietal character.

You can pour it slowly from the bottle so as to avoid having the sediment in the glass. Or you can turn the bottle upside down a few times before opening it so that it becomes cloudy and offers the drinker a new set of tasting notes.

My advice is to drink your first bottle using the first method so as to be able to compare and be rewarded by the two different approaches.

I’ll start by saying that this is a prince among Proseccos, with vibrant acidity and a citrus note that emerges in its youth. But this wine was from the 2013 harvest and was bottled in July 2014 and so it’s had some time to rest. This allows us to taste its thrilling flavors from the get-go. Among other notes: White peach and plum, acacia, aromatic herbs, almond and bread but also nuanced minerality. In the mouth, excellent balance with dense flavors that are accompanied by fresh and ripe fruits. It’s hard not to drink it on its own but ultimately this wine needs to be paired with food. It made me crave for battered zucchine flowers and anchovies but it also made me yearn for classic Neapolitan fritto misto.

Roberto Giuliani
Lavinium
February 2016

Italy 2, France 0: Massimo Bottura and Osteria Francescana impress French president

Above: Five ages, textures, and temperatures of Parmigiano Reggiano at Osteria Francescana in Modena, one of Chef Massimo Bottura’s signature dishes.

On Thursday of last week, French president François Hollande and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi held a meeting over dinner at Chef Massimo Bottura’s 3-Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena.

At the end of the meal, when the chef went out into the dining room to chat with his guests and ask Hollande what he thought of the meal, the French president responded: “Italy 2, France 0.”

Don’t get us wrong: We love French food just as much as anyone.

But Italian food rules!

One of the things that sets Italian cuisine apart from French is the food products.

And in the case of Osteria Francescana, the chef has a great advantage thanks to hometown food products like Parmigiano Reggiano, Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena, and Prosciutto di Parma.

And, of course, there’s another superior “food” product that chef Massimo had at his disposal: Our Prosecco Colfòndo, which is served by the glass at his restaurant!

Col Fondo update: Proposed changes for the Prosecco DOCG

One of the most engaging seminars at the recent Asolo and Montello Consortium festival (held last month in Asolo) was Professor Michele Antonio Fino’s talk about his proposal for changes in the Prosecco DOCG that would make Prosecco Col Fondo an official category of the appellation.

He was kind enough to synopsize the proposed changes (see below) and I have translated them into English so that we can share them here for English speakers (his proposal has been widely circulated in Italian-language media).

It’s worth noting that Prosecco Col Fondo (in other words, Prosecco that has been bottled fermented and aged on its lees) is already allowed by the appellation. But Michele’s proposed changes — which, for the most part, have been embraced by producers — would raise overall quality and introduce greater standardization of the category.

*****

– Name: Spumante sui Lieviti [Sparkling Wine Aged on Its Lees]; the current name is Frizzante Rifermentato in Bottiglia [Semi-Sparkling Wine Refermented in Bottle].
– Only vintage dated wines that have been bottled for refermentation in the spring following harvest.
– Secondary fermentation using residual sugar, sucrose, or rectified concentrated grape must; winery’s choice.
– Maximum 0.5 overpressure at bottling; no bidule; and nothing that would make it possible to disgorge.
– At least 10 gr/l of residual sugars at bottling; secondary fermentation must take place in the bottle and therefore, a maximum of 5 gr/l when the process is completed.
– Any closure allowed (crown cap, conventional cork, mushroom cork, screw cap); winery’s choice.
– Traditional production: In spring, therefore bottling can take place only between March 1 and June 30.

Above: Michele Antonio Fino, professor of food law and policy at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (Piedmont), at the recent Asolo and Montello Consortium festival where he gave a fantastic talk.