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

Curiosity, passion and truth behind the original Italian (Charmat) method sparkling wine

by Michael Godel

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

Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is the name chosen, utilized and employed in full. Never to be shortened, abbreviated or condensed. This is key to its existence as a denominational entity and the only way it can be kept whole and complete when mentioned, spoken of or written about. Using the single word Prosecco does the denomination a disservice because it lumps it into a grossly larger category that includes millions of other wines. It does so by eliminating Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G’s profound sense of belonging and even more so, its sense of place.

It’s quite simple really. Look on every bottle first, for the D.O.C.G. seal of recognition, as a presence of quality, the aforementioned sense of place and knowing that you are tasting something elevated, something special. To be assured that you have located the top wines of the region, look for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. This name signifies top quality and highest standards in the vineyard and winery, as well as concentrated flavour and balance.

The true spirit of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is constant, consistently loyal to tradition and steadfast in its collective soul. The producers eligible to use the entirety of the denomination’s moniker on their labels do so with pride and an unwavering adherence to the voice of rule. Now let us look deeper into the what, how and why, with curiosity and passion to discover the truth behind the original Italian method sparkling wine.

 Find Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G at your local LCBO


The totality of the name lies at the heart of the matter and is essential to maintaining the integrity of the appellation. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. repeated as a mantra will ensure that shortening to “Prosecco” (or #Prosecco) will not likely become a temptation that consumers and trades will easily fall into. Just as the youth of this generation overuse the word “like” in speech to avoid having to think before committing to intellectual thought, that is how the term “Prosecco” has been employed during times when it has no business being there. The correct and full name of the sparkling wine we are discussing is Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. End of story.

Technology, investment and the ever-increasing economy of wine-producing scale means that it has become quite easy to pump out millions and millions of litres of charmat method sparkling wine. Quality in this great big bubbly sea is variable to say the least. Overall control is lacking and consumer demand trumps the importance of integrity. In fact according to the Conzorzio for DOC Prosecco, the 2018 vintage yielded more than 3,700,000 hl of certifiable wine from the 23,000 hectares of vineyards in the region, more than three and a half times the number of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. The quality of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is immune to the flaws, defects and transgressions of the other guys. And so quality has never been more impressive than it is in what can be considered the golden age. “Prosecco” persists and multiplies at an alarming, uncontrolled rate, advancing unshackled without any real checks or balances. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. wines on the other hand cut no corners and improve upon their status with each and every passing vintage. Staying focused and true to the denomination’s origins allows the wines to outdo, outpace and outrun the imposters. The 2018 harvest told us that 8,088 ha are under vine produced 91,425, 957 bottles. This area was first recognized as a DOC in 1969, and then its rank was elevated to D.O.C.G. in 2009.

Coneglaino Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG

Objectives and Characteristics

The Consorzio di Tutela del Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is the private body, founded in 1962, that guarantees and controls adherence to the production regulations for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. The sparkling wines produced on the hillsides between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the Province of Treviso, obtained Denominazione di Origine Controllata status in 1969 and the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita in 2009. The production zone includes 15 municipal areas: Conegliano, San Vendemiano, Colle Umberto, Vittorio Veneto, Tarzo, Cison di Valmarino, San Pietro di Feletto, Refrontolo, Susegana, Pieve di Soligo, Farra di Soligo, Follina, Miane, Vidor and Valdobbiadene.

The objective of the Consortium for Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is to broadcast, market and distribute knowledge of the denomination on behalf of all members. While the individual producers are the rising constituent tide parts that float all boats, the message is spread collectively, all for one and one for all. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. is ancient yet contemporary and of an area which, though it is agricultural, is cited among the most efficient “industrial districts” in Italy. The complexity of the world of Prosecco and the positioning of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. within it calls for a brief but systematic summary that underlines its distinguishing characteristics.

Valdobbiadenne’s hills have generally produced off-dry, plump, fragrant, frothy, creamy and easy-drinking sparkling wines of sweet fruit flavours with mild effervescence. This modern, golden age of Superiore D.O.C.G. is seeing more and more of a dry style. Of great forward thinking importance is the observation that wines are presenting from lower pH levels and with higher acidities, increasingly rearing their teeth and gaining traction, especially when a balance is struck with the tenets of rich and concentrated. The barely off-dry impression and chalky notation help to increase the curiosity factor and gather the masses to enjoy what pleasures Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. has to offer. If the bottle says Prosecco Superiore the consumer can be sure it has been sourced from the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene for sparkling wines that are juicy, explosive and blessed with an impressive depth of flavour.

 Find Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G at your local LCBO

Regulations, levels of quality and a sense of place

Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. must be produced from a minimum 85 per cent glera, the local grape variety grown extensively for sparkling wine and no more than 15 per cent of the following local varieties; verdiso, bianchetta, perera and glera lunga. The demination’s wines are obtained almost exclusively by the Italian Method – a.k.a. Charmat 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 “Metodo Conegliano Valdobbiadene.”

At the base of the quality pyramid sits the most ubiquitous of wine denominations, the Prosecco DOC. One step up is Prosecco DOC Treviso followed by Asolo Prosecco DOCG. At the pinnacle is the presence of highest quality and importance; Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. represents the heart and the ideal. The central production zone is found an hour or so north of Venezia in a hilly amphitheatre spread 40 kilometres apart between the villages of 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.

Landscape of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Recognized Unesco Heritage (photo credits: Arcangelo Piai)

A sense of place is celebrated in the crus and single-vineyard wines, most succinct, singular and expressive when bottled as vintage dated Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G.  These are the children raised, cared for and nurtured in the small locales of the denomination’s ancient vineyards. Places kept alive by custodians whose passion is to protect and perpetuate old vines often walled in by a clos. The expositions and slopes of these crus contribute to elevating glera to a higher calling. Remember that most Prosecco are produced upon demand and not obtained from 100 per cent glera grapes, nor from just one fermentation in specialized pressurized cuve close tanks for forty days. It is the single-motive sparklers that do share bread-yeasty, toasty, oxidative and verdant-balmy notes with the French Champenoise. 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 D.O.C.G. 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.

Harvesting on the ‘heroic vineyards’.

New recognition from UNESCO

Culminating a lengthy nomination process that took over ten years, back in July 2019, UNESCO finally declared the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Innocente Nardi, President of the Consortium for the Protection of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. noted that the coveted designation safeguards the cultural landscape of the small agricultural area in northeast Italy. The UNESCO designation reads as follows:

“The landscape is characterized by ‘hogback’ hills, ciglioni, small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces; forests, small villages and farmland. For centuries, this rugged terrain has been shaped and adapted by man. Since the 17th century, the use of ciglioni has created a particular chequerboard landscape consisting of rows of vines parallel and vertical to the slopes. In the 19th century, the bellussera technique of training the vines contributed to the aesthetic characteristics of the landscape.”

The hilly amphitheatre spread 40 kilometres apart between the villages of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene becomes the eighth UNESCO World Heritage site in the Veneto region, the 55th in Italy and the 10th site in the world to be registered under the category of “cultural landscape,” in recognition of their unique interaction between man and the environment. Italy outranks any other country for declared and registered UNESCO sites.

Harvest 2019

Which brings us to the 2019 harvest. With the newest and greatest recognition so recently placed inside the denomination’s pocket, in late October Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. announced a high quality harvest for 2019. Said Consortium President Nardi in a press release, “the outstanding quality of the 2019 harvest rewards us for the fatigue of the entire year, consisting of difficulties and dedication but also of successes that have resonated around the world.” He continued, “the accolade from UNESCO, but also including the 50th anniversary of the denomination and our ban on glyphosate, has made us the largest wine zone in Europe to forbid the use of this well-known herbicide.”

A reduced yield of of three to five per cent means that quantities were down as compared to 2018, owing in part to a typically cold winter and cooler, rainy spring, which also included some hail. Later than normal budbreak was followed by a hot summer. Picking was a week or two later than the average so in some respects this recalled more traditional picking times, especially in the context of climate change. During harvest, conditions were widely agreed upon as being absolutely ideal. The average pH of 3.30 (3.26 in 2018) and acidity of 6.55 (5.92 in 2018) are indicative of values favourable for the denomination.

The wines from this 2019 harvest will be the first to take advantage of new production regulations passed in August. Two new categories were created. Sui Lieviti, which means on the lees or yeasts, are sparkling wines that have been refermented in bottle, also known as the Ancestral Method, while the Extra Brut labelling refers to wines with residual sugar numbers between zero and six grams per litre. As noted above, many producers have been moving towards this mineral-driven, lean and intense style. 

 Find Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G at your local LCBO

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 and freshness should be the most important factors, translating as a veritable gelato bar in a glass.

Thank you for taking the time to read about this next chapter for 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.