GLERA (Prosecco)

Glera is the white grape used to make the wonderful Prosecco, an Italian wine generally produced in its sparkling version. The grape is grown mainly in the Veneto region of Italy, traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso.

History

It is believed that Prosecco was already produced in Roman times, possibly as the “vinum pucinum” praised by Pliny the Elder. It is, at any rate, one of the oldest wine grapes in Italy and ranks about thirtieth in importance among the country's some 2,000 grape varieties. The name of Prosecco is derived from the northern Italian village of Prosecco (Trieste), where the grape is believed to have originated.

Up until the 1960s, Prosecco sparkling wine was generally sweetish and barely distinguishable from the Asti Spumante wine produced in Piedmont. Since then, production techniques have improved, leading to the extremely high-quality dry wines produced today. According to a 2008 The New York Times report, Prosecco has sharply risen in popularity in markets outside Italy, with global sales growing by double-digit percentages since 1998, aided also by its comparatively low price. It was introduced into the mainstream US market in 2000.

Wine regions

The grape is grown mainly in the Veneto region of Italy, traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso.

Most Prosecco is protected as a DOC within Italy, as Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Prosecco di Conegliano and Prosecco di Valdobbiadene. From 2009, these have been promoted to DOCG status, along with Asolo Prosecco. The most common Prosecco is now Treviso D.O.C.

Viticulture and winemaking

Environmental and agricultural characteristics and needs:

He leaves medium-large, pentagonal, wedge-shaped three-lobed or five-lobed; the bunch is medium to large, pyramidal, elongated, with two wings; the berry is medium sized, spheroidal, with golden-yellow skin, lightly dotted. It prefers hilly terrain, not too dry, needs a long summer and winter pruning.

Diseases and adversity:

When spring frosts and summer drought, is sensitive to powdery mildew and downy mildew , hardly undergoes the attack of sour rot . In poor years is sensitive to millerandage and leaking. Can be attacked by mites, leafhoppers and moths. It can be also affected by flavescence .

Unlike champagne, its main commercial competitor, Prosecco is produced using the Charmat method, in which the secondary fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, making the wine less expensive to produce.

Approximately 150 million bottles of Italian Prosecco are produced annually. As of 2008, 60 percent of all Prosecco is made in the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene area. Production there amounted to €370 million in 2007. Beginning in the 2000s, Prosecco is also grown in countries such as Brazil, Romania, Argentina and Australia.

Prosecco is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) varieties. Prosecco spumante, which has undergone a full secondary fermentation, is the more expensive variant. The sparkling variants may contain some Pinot bianco or Pinot grigio wine. Depending on their sweetness, proseccos are labeled "brut" (up to 15 g of residual sugar), "extra dry" (12–20 g) or "dry" (20–35 g).

A still wine (calmo or tranquillo) is also made from Glera grapes – it amounts to only about five percent of production – but this wine is rarely exported.

Wines from the traditional Conegliano–Valdobbiadene production area are labelled as "Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene", "Prosecco di Conegliano" or "Prosecco di Valdobbiadene". Proseccos labelled with another, non-protected designation, such as "IGT-Veneto", are generally cheaper and of a more varied quality.

Cartizze prosecco
The hill of Cartizze is a 1,000-foot-high vineyard of 107 hectares (260 acres) of vines, owned by 140 growers. The Prosecco from its grapes, of which comparatively little is produced, is widely considered to be of the highest quality, or even as the Grand Cru of prosecco. Accordingly, a hectare of Cartizze grape land is estimated to be worth in excess of one million US dollars.

According to a local legend, Cartizze grapes were traditionally harvested last, as the vines were situated on steep slopes and hard to reach, which made vintners discover that this extended ripening period improved the flavour.

Consumption

In Italy, Prosecco is enjoyed as a wine for every occasion. Outside Italy, it is most often drunk as an aperitif, much like Champagne. Like other sparkling wines, Prosecco is served chilled. Unlike champagne, Prosecco does not ferment in the bottle and grows stale with time; it should be drunk as young as possible and preferably before it is two years old.

Compared to other sparkling wines, Prosecco is low in alcohol, about 11 to 12 percent by volume. The flavour of Prosecco has been described as intensely aromatic and crisp, bringing to mind yellow apple, pear, white peach and apricot. Unlike champagne, appreciated for its rich taste and complex secondary aromas, most Prosecco variants have intense primary aromas and are meant to taste fresh, light and comparatively simple.

Most commonly Prosecco is served unmixed, but it also appears in several mixed drinks. It was the original main ingredient in the Bellini cocktail and in the Spritz cocktail, and it can also replace champagne in other cocktails such as the Mimosa. Prosecco also features in the Italian mixed drink Sgroppino (with vodka and lemon sorbet).

 

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