Sponsored Feature – Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G

The benchmark for Italian method sparkling wines, true to place and spirit

by Michael Godel

This article was commissioned by Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco.

Well, it begins, as it must, with that controlled and guaranteed denomination of quality, as a sparkling wine beloved by many and the original concierge of the territory. It begins, of course, with Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. In a world overrun by millions of bottles of sparkling wine there is always the constant, consistent and steadfast Prosecco elevated, unfazed by fads and always true to the spirit of where it comes from: Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.


This is extremely important, essential and critical to the story. The name of the denomination must not on any account be simplified as “Prosecco,” which would be tantamount to speaking about another region, wine and denomination. The correct name of the Denomination is in fact and in full, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore. The full name of the sparkling wine is Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. Yes it is true that this name is long and complicated, so we too often and perhaps reluctantly abbreviate it to Conegliano Valdobbiadene or Prosecco Superiore.

In an ever-expanding ocean of charmat method sparkling wine, the quality of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG has never been higher. The self-explanatory fact that this most important DOCG sits at the top of the quality pyramid within the juggernaut of a wine classification is a testament to quality. The term “Prosecco” has and continues to grow at the speed of light so while not merely maintaining quality, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG wines are consistently gaining status and as result, continue to distance themselves from the pack. The 2017 harvest tells us that 8,088 ha are under vine and 91,425, 957 bottles were produced. The DOCG was officially recognized in 2009.

Coneglaino Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG


Conegliano Valdobbiadene is produced from at least 85 per cent of the glera grape variety and no more than 15 per cent of the following local varieties may be added: verdiso, bianchetta, perera and glera lunga.

Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is obtained almost exclusively by the Italian Method (with a second fermentation in pressurized vats), a technique that was further perfected by Professor Tullio de Rosa of the School of Winemaking in Conegliano. Some producers like to refer to it as the “Conegliano Valdobbiadene Method.”

The quality pyramid

At the base there is the widest of the world’s DOCs, Prosecco DOC. One step up is Prosecco DOC Treviso and then Asolo Prosecco DOCG. Above them all is the top of the edifice where Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore expatiates the ideal. The heart of the production zone is found an hour or so north of Venice in a hilly amphitheatre 40 kms apart between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. The flatter, clay-rich glacial, alluvial and morainic soils of Conegliano are in great contrast to the more hilly, ancient seabeds of moraine and sandstone found in Valdobbiadene. Valdobbiadene is also home to older vines and greater genetic diversity, especially when it comes to the most important grape variety glera.

Characteristics of style

The hilly region of Valdobbiadenne is the inner circle of best quality grown Prosecco and the classic regional style is off-dry, plump and juicy. The wines can be fairly sweet and frothy more than they are effervescent. They are fragrant, easy-drinking, gentle and creamy. More and more we see the Superiore DOCG versions made in a by now modern, typically dry style. That said the wines can also be lean, of high acidity and even flinty, though this style is surely not the norm. The tributary run-off from this is more earthy/stony expressions than the typical light fruity-floral style. When they strike a balance they are rich and concentrated, sinewy yet fleshy, with well above average depth. In these cases they will present a barely off-dry impression, though will also find admirable balance with sharp acids. Their soft effervescence will also be balanced by an underlying chalky note in the wines. As WineAlign’s John Szabo M.S. has written, Prosecco is “a quintessential summer fizz for drinking, not contemplation.” As a general rule, the drier the style, the more friendly they will be. Add in some residual sugar and into the Brut style for cocktail hour sipping. It is also worth noting that the “Extra Dry” designation, oddly enough, means there is some, but not exaggerated sweetness.

Prosecco as is and to be expected does so with salty, sweet and sour gentleness and copacetic behaviour. It’s never overly tart, sports a middle ground of body and weight, finishing as simply as it begun. Sometimes very fragrant versions can exhibit marked floral notes in a moscato d’asti way, giving off the scent of a fresh bouquet of lilies. Prosecco Superiore sourced from the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene are often juicy, explosive and offer an impressive depth of flavour.

Related – John Szabo: (Re-)Discovering Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene

“(Conegliano-Valdobbiadene) is where the finest wines have always originated, and in fact where prosecco the sparkling wine was born, thanks to Antonio Carpenè Malvolti over a century ago. Malvolti also founded Italy’s first school of oenology in the town of Conegliano in 1876, which contributed in no small measure to the rise in wine quality in the region, and throughout the peninsula.”

Aromas that are purely Prosecco Superiore may include but not always are fresh poured concrete, ripe pears, yellow apple, fennel frond and lemon that is not exactly lemon. In more site specific examples the aromas can be of a perfume that includes jasmine, white peach, buttercup and lemon verbena. When nosing these Italian method wines we are not necessarily looking for the biscuit of traditional method aromas. That the wines smell likes sparkling wines from Prosecco Superiore designate vineyards is necessary to the style and the category. Prosecco is literally bottled straight from the tank and so fruit should be the most important factor, translating as a veritable gelato bar in a glass.

The appellation laws dictate that the bottle has to be made of clear glass in a limited range of shades to be classified as DOCG on the label and so there are some “blingy” examples made from DOCG quality fruit that do not qualify. When your goal is marketing and sales, especially to the special occasion and holiday season market it’s a matter of style over status I suppose. That said gold, blue and other colourful bottles may looks gimmicky but do protect the wines from light and perhaps even help towards extending bottle life.

What about the crus, single-vineyards and vintage dated Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore?

Wrapping one’s brain around any locally sold Prosecco that breaches the $20 mark first requires an understanding of the origins and the dedication allotted to said bottle. Ancient vineyards, old vines, vines walled in by a clos and important slopes all contribute to elevating glera to a higher standard. Remember that most Prosecco are not obtained from 100 per cent glera grapes nor are they produced to order via just one fermentation in specialized pressurized cuve close tanks for forty days. It is the single-motive sparklers that do share yeasty, bready, oxidative and verdant-balmy notes with the French Champenoise but the haute renditions are fortunate in that a sense of place trumps any plans to be something it’s not. They are the benchmark for Italian method bubbles and so worth checking out if you are lucky enough to find them, on shelves, through their agents or just to be offered a sip.

The famous Rive, or “heroic vineyards” are where the hillsides are at their most precipitous and the vines are cultivated with particular effort, dedication and determination. Each Rive are produced from the grapes of a single hamlet or commune and the name of the individual Riva is shown on the label. The highest of the quality pyramid is found in these 43 single vineyards or crus whose name comes from the Venetian for “steep slopes.” These special parcels have been given elevated status within the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG zone, often located on the steepest and highest quality hillsides. By rule these cru are subject to lower yields, hand harvesting and must be vintage dated. Some are shared between producers, others are monopoles.

The yields of the various categories of wine are different: Cartizze has a maximum yield of 12,000 kilos of grapes/hectare; the Rive permit no more than 13,000 kilos per hectare, while Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore can produce up to 13,500 kilos per hectare. Vinification must be carried out according to the strict norms of the Production Regulations and can take place only within the 15 communes of the DOCG zone.

The uptake to special cuvée takes off with complexity and rides with it, sometimes even offering up a slight lean towards complexities noted with minor hints of oxidation. These are wines that are true to place, spirit and do not follow fads. As for the category of vintage dated, the examples are certainly fewer and far between and versions of this standard classics sometimes suffer a little on the aromatic side, especially in a scorching growing season like 2017. Conversely they will often be tighter, firmer and gain on the palate with breadth and weight. They will also be examples that are essentially dry, with greater persistence and more pronounced stony, non-fruit characters, that is relative to many of the genre.

The best expression of Prosecco

“Il Conegliano Valdobbiadene è la migliore espressione del Prosecco”

“Conegliano Valdobbiadene is the best expression of Prosecco” and so it stands to support its position at the top of the world of Prosecco’s quality pyramid. Digging deeper we note that the best of the best is represented by Superiore di Cartizze: a tiny, pentagonal plot of land of barely 107 hectares, in the commune of Valdobbiadene, divided up between a hundred or so different growers. In other words, the cru of the cru growers and their lands who release just over a million bottles each year of this unique sparkling wine.

Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene available at the LCBO:

Brunoro Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2016

Drusian Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG

Santa Margherita Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG

Tenuta S. Anna Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG

Val D’oca Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017

Zardetto Molín Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2015

Thank you for taking the time to read about Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. Until next time,

Good to go!


This article was commissioned by Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco. As a regular feature, WineAlign tastes wines submitted by a single winery or region. Our critics independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted to WineAlign. We then independently recommend wines to appear in the profile. Wineries and regions pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines to put forward in our report, and its content, is entirely up to WineAlign.