The creation of the 2009 DOCG in Prosecco reshaped the Prosecco map.
Consumers in Italy and the United States are still often confused by the differences between Prosecco DOCG and Prosecco DOC.
It was back in 2009 when the Prosecco DOCG was officially recognized by the Italian government’s agricultural ministry and the National Committee for Italian Wines (which regulates the DOCG and DOC systems).
With the creation of the new designation (DOCG means designation of controlled and guaranteed origin while DOC stands simply for designation of controlled origin, without the guarantee), the production area for top Prosecco was limited to the provinces of Valdobbiadene (the most famous), Conegliano (the historic center for Prosecco production, which stretches back to the 1700s), and Asolo (the least known of the top townships for Prosecco production, where Bele Casel grows its wines).
To add the “guaranteed” to the labeling, the grapes used to make the wine must be grown in one of those townships.
The DOC, on the other hand, was expanded to included a wider swath of the Veneto region and it also included Friuli-Venezia Giulia (known simply as Friuli), where Prosecco and vinified has been grown for some time now.
The bottom line is the following: Prosecco grown in Asolo, Valdobbiadene, and Conegliano is hillside Prosecco while the Prosecco grown in the greater Veneto and Friuli is valley-floor Prosecco. The hillside Prosecco has to be hand-farmed because the slopes of the hills in those township are famously steep. Valley-floor Prosecco is generally machine farmed.
There’s a lot more wiggle room in terms of quality control and farming regimens in the valley. In the hills, on the other hand, the quality tends to be much higher because of the more rigorous farming practices.
There’s nearly always a difference in price. But as any well-informed wine lover knows, you get what you pay for.