Prosecco is the most popular sparkling wine in the world.
Prosecco DOC is produced in the low-lying valleys of Italy’s Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia regions.
The art of cultivating vineyards in the fertile Prosecco area was developed over many centuries: the wine was already produced as far back as Roman times using the Glera grape, which initially grew near the village of Prosecco on the Karst hills above Trieste. At that time, it was known as Puccino.
In the 18th century, cultivation of Glera expanded throughout the hills of Veneto and Friuli and later spread to the lower areas of Veneto and Friuli. This is where the Prosecco we know today was first produced at the beginning of the 20th century, thanks to the introduction of new secondary fermentation technologies.
Prosecco DOC is made with the Glera grape ( as well as a small percentage of the Pinot Noir grape for Prosecco DOC Rosé) and vinified using the Martinotti/Charmat method (also referred to as the tank method), in which secondary fermentation does not take place in individual bottles as in the Champenoise method (used to make Champagne), but in large steel tanks known as autoclaves, which keep the wine under pressure. This process was developed specifically to capture the fresh fruitiness of the Glera grape, as opposed to the yeasty, gently oxidized autolytic character of wines produced with the Champenoise method. The final result for classic Prosecco DOC is a brilliant straw yellow wine with fine, persistent perlage and aromas of white flowers, apple and pear. For Prosecco DOC Rosé, a pale pink wine with fine and persistent perlage results from an extended stop on the fermentation yeast at 60 days. Both Prosecco DOC and Prosecco DOC Rosé are fresh and elegant on the palate with moderate alcoholic strength.
In addition to Glera, regulations allow the addition of a maximum of 15% of the following varietals: Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir (as used to create Prosecco DOC Rosé).
The vines from which Prosecco is produced must grow exclusively to the area of North East Italy lying between Dolomites and the Adriatic Sea. The grapes come from five provinces in the Veneto region (Belluno, Padua, Treviso, Venice, Vicenza) and four provinces in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine). When the wine is also produced and bottled exclusively in the provinces of Treviso and Trieste, a special mention may be written on the label in recognition of the invaluable part these two provinces have played in the history of Prosecco.
- The grapes are harvested during the first weeks of September when the organoleptic qualities (sugars, acidity, and aromatic substances) have reached their peak. During this process, it is important to avoid spontaneous fermentations.
- After the grapes have been picked, they are crushed. The grapes are separated from their stems in preparation for pressing.
- The free-run must is extracted from the grapes by soft pressing.
- Selected yeasts are used to start the white winemaking process, transforming the sugar in the grapes into alcohol and CO2. The action of the yeasts (fermentation) lasts for around 15/20 days at a maximum temperature of 18°C to preserve the delicate aromas of the grapes. After fermentation, the ageing process begins and the wine is racked and filtered.
- Secondary fermentation takes place using the Charmat method in large containers called autoclaves which keep the wine under pressure. This is the process by which the wine gets its famous bubbles. Toward the end of the secondary fermentation process, which lasts a minimum of 30 days, the temperature is lowered to stop fermentation, leaving enough residual sugar to guarantee balance and harmony. Secondary fermentation for Prosecco DOC Rosé lasts 60 days.
- The wines are finally bottled and labelled.
Depending on the level of pressure, Prosecco DOC can be Spumante (sparkling), Frizzante (semi-sparkling), or Tranquillo (still) depending on the perlage. In the wines designated Spumante, the pressure is between 1 and 2.5 bars; in those labeled Frizzante, the pressure is between 1 and 2.5 bars; and in those labeled Tranquillo, the pressure is lower than 1 bar.
Prosecco DOC Rosé is always Spumante.
After undergoing primary fermentation, Prosecco Tranquillo is bottled, while the Frizzante and Spumante varieties continue to the final unique stage in the Prosecco process: secondary fermentation in pressurized stainless steel tanks.
Prosecco DOC is produced in four different styles, distinguished by the quantity of residual sugar in each. Classic Prosecco DOC ranges from Brut Nature (0-3 g/l of residual sugar), Extra Brut (3-6 g/l), Brut (6-12 g/l), and Extra Dry (12-17 g/l), and Dry (17-32 g/l). Prosecco DOC Rosé ranges from Brut Nature to Extra Dry levels.
Authentic Prosecco DOC is easily distinguishable by the state seal (pictured on the right), which must be applied on each bottle. The seal is applied onto the closing of the bottle in such a way as to prevent the seal from being used again and to prevent the contents of the bottle being removed without breaking the seal. Prosecco DOC Rosé is also marked by a label of authenticity, which additionally features its Millesimato reference year.
Prosecco DOC & Sustainability
PROSECCO DOC FURTHERS ITS COMMITMENT TO A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE WITH ONGOING PROJECTS
Prosecco DOC loves and respects its land. The commitment to a more sustainable future goes through innovative programs and strategies which focus on the environment and its protection on the one hand, and on ethical, social and economic responsibility on the other, aiming to maintain and increase the quality of the final product. It is necessary to intervene at every stage of the production chain and provide the right support to companies in order to facilitate change.The final goal of the Consortium is to achieve certified sustainability at a territorial level
The Prosecco DOC Consortium developed a Winemaker’s Handbook that contains information about sustainable strategies for vineyard management. The Consortium rewards the companies that are committed to organic farming and integrated production (SQNPI) with specific marketing activities.
This is an aid tool to the correct management of the use of phytosanitary products in defending vineyards from parasites and controlling spontaneous weeds, highlighting the most appropriate practices and products.The document provides clear and precise guidelines for companies. These include the exclusion
Mosaico Verde Program
Another project led by the Consortium is “Mosaico Verde,” promoted by AzzeroCO2 and Legambiente. The Consortium has joined Mosaico Verde, a program that aims to increase biodiversity in the country by planting 300,000 new trees, in addition to protecting 30,000 hectares of existing forest.
The project proposes to re-develop the Italian territory through projects for the forestation of new trees and the sustainable management of existing woods, involving public bodies and companies. In the territory of the DOC Prosecco it has meant creating a hedge or grove area of at least 5% of the vineyard. The approximately 1,500 companies that have already joined have planted 126,544 trees to date, equal to 76 hectares.
Prosecco DOC Consortium launched the innovative project PRO.S.E.C.CO. DOC – an acronym for PROgramma della Sostenibilità e del Controllo della COmpetitività della filiera vitivinicola Prosecco DOC – which aims to set up an IT management system for sustainability, through the exchange of information between the Consortium and the companies about environmental aspects (good winery practices, biodiversity, carbon and water footprint), social aspects (communication and relationship with the community and good socio-economic practices of the company and the suppliers towards their employees, e.g. no gangmaster systems) and economic aspects for the future of the company.
The Consortium, in collaboration with the software-house Apra and its partners Enogis and Analysis, has therefore developed a digital system bringing together vineyards and wineries data, which is sent to a carbon and water-footprint calculator connected to the Consortium’s platform. This system allows the Consortium to calculate the environmental indicators of the Denomination, as well as the ones of each individual vineyard or winery.
Thanks to this project, it will be possible to collect data on the environmental, social and economic impact and to select the best practices to be added to the system, with a view to continuous improvement. The aim is to transfer the know-how and the technologies identified to as many companies as possible in the Prosecco DOC territory since it is possible to get a territorial sustainability certification(Equalitas), involving at least 60% of the Prosecco Doc vineyards.
Zoning and Precision Intervention
The Consortium has undertaken a series of actions to identify homogeneous areas and further enhance the concept of terroir. The considerable size of the Prosecco DOC area means that there is a considerable diversity of soil and climate. And, consequently, more effects on the production results and the technological and organoleptic characteristics of the grapes.The Consortium has undertaken a series of actions to identify homogeneous areas and further enhance the concept of terroir. The considerable size of the Prosecco DOC area means that there is a considerable diversity of soil and climate. And, consequently, more effects on the production results and the technological and organoleptic characteristics of the grapes.
Alongside the ‘classic’ zoning, new remote sensing techniques are also being introduced. These technologies can make a valid contribution to large-scale analyses by monitoring and differentiating the state of the crops, climate and soil at strategic moments.Once the areas have been established, it will be possible to go on to plan different types of precision intervention, suitable for that specific area. The aim is precisely that of characterizing the DOC, creating a viticultural management model for each homogeneous area identified, which includes the development of models of sustainable cultivation.