Take a look at the Italian region that makes top-quality Prosecco


Colbertaldo, Veneto, Italy (Picture: /Getty)

Have we gone and killed Prosecco?

Chain pubs serve entry-level swill on draft into dishwasher-safe plastic. The bottomless brunch crowd buy ‘Keep Calm & Drink Prosecco’ aprons for their mums’ birthdays. And this Christmas, a great many Britons will buy bauble-shaped bottles full of ‘paw-secco’ – for their dogs.

Yes, as with Lambrusco in the 1980s, we are witnessing the self-inflicted demise of Britain’s favourite way to get trashed at weddings.

While once we were the world’s biggest consumers of this golden drink, Champagne has slowly been inching its way back up the popularity pole. I raise this because it’s been brought to my attention that there are some grown-up examples of Prosecco no one ever told us about.

While connoisseurs thumb their noses at the gallons of bog-standard stuff shipped over here by the Venetians, they rave about other kinds of Italian sparkling wines we’ve never heard of, such as Franciacorta. All the while, the small amount of superior DOCG (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) Prosecco gets lost as we wade through our decade-long spritz blitz.

The high-born glera grapes that give themselves to this posh Prosecco are grown and pressed on the ribbed, rolling hills of Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene in the Veneto region. It was awarded Unesco World Heritage status last year partly because it’s astoundingly pretty.

Vineyards on the hills of Valdobbiadene (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

The centuries-old tradition of cultivating vines on ciglioni (narrow grassy terraces) has defined this dreamscape. Today, it remains a place of low-key artisan nobility, where weapons of mass production are forbidden.

It’s here I try a style made from a single, vertiginous plot called Cartizze. This hallowed micro-region turns out Rolls-Royce fizz. Drinking it feels like that fist-pumping moment when, for the first time, your mum lets you have shandy – a sort of quaffers’ puberty.

Tasting different proseccos.

‘Tropical fruit, well balanced, good structure,’ says Veronica Ruggeri, the youngest daughter of the family-run Le Colture winery. Party plonk this is not. It is sweet, though, so it’s best drunk at the end of a sitting with an apple sfogliatine (a posh apple turnover). Apparently a hunk of parmesan works too.

Even more pupil-dilating is the col fondo style I try at venerable winery Greggoletto. Like Champagne, its second fermentation happens in the bottle rather than a big metal bin. Unlike Champagne, no sugar is added and the yeast isn’t disgorged. This makes it opaque and complex.

It tastes like bad Prosecco’s older, disapproving sibling. Try it with breadsticks and nutty, melty sopressa (aged salami) while looking out on to the fog-swaddled Prealps.

Prosecco vending machine near the Osteria Senz’Oste.

Perhaps the quaintest stop along the Strada del Prosecco – a road that winds through the hills lined with over 100 family-run wineries – is Osteria Senz’Oste.

Built into the side of a Cartizze hill, this unmanned honesty-box restaurant and its garden is a fizzy fairy tale. Guests can grab cheese, salami and bread, then head to the adjacent vineyard to buy a bottle from one of the randomly placed vending machines – and then sit and sip in the view.

I stand to propose a toast: ‘Prosecco is dead. Long live Prosecco.’

Grape Escapes has a two-night trip to Prosecco, including breakfast, dinner and a full-day guided tour from £482pp

Return flights to the nearest airport, Venice, cost from £64, British Airways. Don’t forget to check entry requirements for the country you are planning to visit.

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