La Cantina Pizzolato Prosecco, 2007

La Cantina Pizzolato Prosecco

This bottle of wine almost inspired bloodshed and mayhem. I am not kidding.

You may notice the cute string-wrapped top on it here. Something a little different from the crowd. Well, I could not open the damn thing. The Man was about to burst a vein in his neck from trying to be civilized while wrestling the wine-screw and the bottle. I almost ran to the utility room for a screw driver and a hammer to open it. (It’s not glamorous, but it works. I promise.) Finally with a primal grunt, The Man ripped the cork out, threw up his hands like a bull fighter, and exited stage right.

It was a lot of hoopla for a timid bottle of organic prosecco. La Cantina Pizzolato is from the Veneto region of Italy (hint: Venice), a once highly agricultural area that is slowly turning to tourism and small industry, as well as guys in boats singing as they steer through canals. This region has sea-level lowlands, but also some high alpine peaks, so there’s plenty of ideal farmland to grow the prosecco grapes for this traditional sparkling wine.

I’ve had a rant or two about prosecco before, so I won’t get back into that again except to say that prosecco is pretty similar to Champagne. Because of its regionally protected status, all Champagne originates from the Champagne region of France. So we call it sparkling wine. In this region of Italy, it’s made with prosecco grapes, and varies greatly in quality and characteristics from bottle to bottle.

If you’re on a budget like me and 95% of the rest of the humans, you might consider finding a prosecco you like rather than splashing out on an expensive Champagne for an event. Most people can’t tell anyway. You can hunt around and find some absolutely wonderful prosecco, in whatever price range you feel comfortable with, and in general it tends to cost less than its Champagne cousin.

Pizzolato is a smallish vintner with a range of wines, including spumante and dessert wines. They do put an emphasis on natural and organic processes and ingredients, which is emerging with the growing demand.

This bottle of prosecco gave us a good fight to get open, and proved to be fairly shy but sweet. There wasn’t a developed flavor curve or any distinct notes throughout the course of drinking it. It was bubbly though, with persistent, fine bubbles that would lend itself well to spritzers, mixed drinks and punches. And at this price, you wouldn’t hesitate at a few chilled bottles for an afternoon at the beach or mimosas for Sunday brunch.

It wouldn’t hurt to have a screw driver and hammer ready though, for when you pull the wine out of the fridge.

La Cantina Pizzolato
Prosecco, IGT Veneto, 2007


Dom Bertiol Prosecco

Dom Bertiol Prosecco

“Come quickly, I am drinking the stars!”

This is a famous [mis]quote attributed to Dom Pérignon, the godfather of champagne. If anyone had hung around long enough, they would have heard another famous quote echoed through the ages as well. “Hold my hair, I’m barfing stars!”

One hard lesson seems to be that champagne is delicious but not a good thing to mix with any other adult beverages in the course of a festive evening. A second hard lesson that the French are hammering home, is that champagne only can be made in the Champagne region of France. It is one of the most waspishly defended PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) foods in Europe. Everything else is merely “sparkling wine”, as far as they’re concerned.

Which is fine by me. Champagne is nice, but there have been a few occasions where I promised god that I would never drink it again. If you’ve ever been on the bad side of champagne, you know what I’m talking about. On the other hand, some events call for a nip of the bubbly. Enter the Italian cousin of champagne–prosecco.

Prosecco is a sparkling, dry Italian white wine made from glera/prosecco grapes. This varietal of grape is thought to have been grown as far back as the Roman times, and is now grown specifically for prosecco wine. Spumante (fully sparkling) has gone through a secondary fermentation, which gives it the bubbles. Frizzante, gentile, calmo, or tranquillo are also prosecco wines but do not have the same bubble as the sparkling spumante. Prosecco is aged in stainless steel vats these days, and can originate outside of Italy now, so flavors vary tremendously from maker to maker. (You can even buy it in a can if you are certifiably insane.) One more thing to know when buying prosecco is that it does not age in the bottle, so you should drink it within three years of its vintage.

A friend brought over this bottle of Dom Bertiol to celebrate a milestone in her college career, and as a bribe so we would break out some of our recent cheese and crusty bread binge at Uppercrust. Just the sight of the glass of bubbly sent me back to a previous New Year’s Eve with ‘house’ champagne at a pub we were celebrating at. Fortunately, my love for most things Italian prevailed and I joined in the prosecco toast.

This was a lovely combination of the fine bubble of real champagne and the subtle flavors of a very dry white wine. The floral notes and fragrances were of the Victorian flowers (tea rose, violet, wisteria) rather than the blaring vulgar scents Bath & Body Works. You laugh, but some of these wines smell like they were poured over a suburban MILF book club before being bottled.

The flavors were clean and crisp, running towards almonds and pears, with a sweet clover high note. I can’t help compare it to my favorite other bubbly drink, Cidre Bouché. I love a wine (or anything) that you can practically taste the soil and the sunlight where it came from. ‘Of the earth’ is the only way I can describe that feeling of standing in the vineyard among the sun-dapple leaves. Prosecco tends to be significantly sweeter than real champagne, but it’s nothing like your average white wine.

As this was a gift, I couldn’t tell you were it came from or what the price was, but it seems to range from $12 to $17 a bottle, depending on where you find it. Worth it, in that price range. When you need a bottle of the bubbly, keep your eye out for this, or any decent prosecco if you can’t bring yourself to choose an authentic champagne.

I did note a complete absence of champagne regret the next day–the sensation of your eyeballs trying to crawl into the back of your eye sockets to escape daylight. And the prosecco played well with others in my stomach, where champagne tends to throw a bit of a temper tantrum if not given undivided attention. Over all we were quite happy with this Dom Bertiol, and were sad to finally stow the empty bottle in the recycle bin as if laying to rest the body of a Viking warrior in a Skuldelev before pushing it out to sea and setting it on fire.

Well, perhaps a bit less melodramatically than that. But it was a decent bottle of sparling Italian wine.

Dom Bertiol Prosecco
(Talking and drinking, so did not note the year, origin, or varietal.)