Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Visiting the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Region, Italy

Picture: Annette Schiller tasting Ca'Salina Prosecco at Ca'Salina with Owner Gregorio Bartolin in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Region

As part of the 2017 Annual Meetings of the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE)I toured for a day the Prosecco Region, with Annette Schiller. More specifically, we spent a day in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Appellation.

The AAWE is a non-profit, educational organization dedicated to encouraging and communicating economic research and analyses and exchanging ideas in wine economics. The Association’s principal activities include publishing a refereed journal — The Journal of Wine Economics — and staging scholarly conferences that are forums for current wine related economic research. Members of AAWE are economists from around the world — in academia, business, government, and research.

I have published 4 book reviews in the Journal of Wine Economics in the past few years:

Book Review by Christian Schiller in Journal of Wine Economics (Vol 11, No 3): MARK E. RICARDO: Simply Burgundy: A Practical Guide to Understanding the Wines of Burgundy. Mark E. Ricardo Book, 2014, 56 pp., ISBN 978-0990513704 Q4 (paperback), $12.99

Book Review by Christian Schiller in Journal of Wine Economics (Vol 11, No 2): JOHN WINTHROP HAEGER: Riesling Rediscovered: Bold, Bright and Dry. University of California Press, Oakland, 2016, 369 pp., ISBN 978-0-520-27545-4, $39.95

Book Review of "Wine Atlas of Germany" in Vol 10, No 1, 2015 of Journal of Wine Economics (Cambridge University Press)

Christian G.E. Schiller's Review of the Book: Ralf Frenzel (ed.) - Riesling, Robert Weil. Tre Torri, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2013, in: Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 9, 2014, No. 1, Cambridge University Press

This year's Annual Meetings took place in Padua, half an hour by train from Venice, in the Veneto Wine Region. The program focussed on the presentation of research papers by participants and also included a tour of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Region and a visit of winery in the Venice Lagune.

Pictures: At the Annual Meetings of the American Association of Wine Economists in Padua, Italy (2017)

I am preparing 4 postings:

Venice, Padua and the Wines of Veneto: Annual Conference of the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) in Italy, 2017
Visiting the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Region, Italy
Winemaking in Venice: Michel Thoulaze and Orto di Venezia
Schiller's Favorite Wine Bars in Venice

Prosecco

This sparkling wine with its roots in a region north of Venice has become very popular in the past decades. But what Prosecco is has changed quite a bit in the past and may change further in the future. Recently, Pierazzo da Feltre reported on Jancis Robinson's web site on the polarisation that is taking place in Proseccoland (see below). Looking back, 2009 was a decisive year for Prosecco.

Before 2009, Prosecco was not only the name of a region in Northern Italy, like Napa Valley, but also the name of a grape, like Merlot. As a consequence anyone could use the name of the Prosecco grape, as long as the Prosecco grape was in the bottle. Thus, other regions tried to participate in the Prosecco boom and started to produce a Prosecco with the Prosecco grape outside of its traditional home. The boom went so far that Prosecco was sold in cans at rock-bottom prices. All this changed in 2009.

As of the 2009 vintage, the Prosecco grape has been renamed. Its new name is Glera. From 2009 on, a wine producer in Sicily, for example, could no longer sell the Prosecco/Glera grape under the Prosecco name. Secondly, the heartland of the Prosecco in Northern Italy was upgraded to DOCG status and the larger Prosecco region to DOC status. Thus, Prosecco became a regional application, just as Champagne in neighboring France. Only wine produced in the official Prosecco production zone can be labeled as Prosecco. The sale of Prosecco in cans was banned.

Pictures: Visit of School of Viticulture and Oenology in Conegliano

Today, Prosecco DOC and DOCG can be spumante ("sparkling wine"), frizzante ("semi-sparkling wine"), or tranquillo ("still wine"). It is made from Glera grapes, formerly known also as Prosecco, but other grape varieties may be included. The name is derived from that of the Italian village of Prosecco near Trieste, where the grape and wine originated from.

Prosecco DOC is produced in nine provinces spanning the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions. Prosecco Superiore DOCG comes in two varieties: Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG, which can only be made in the Treviso province of Veneto on the hills between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene (north of Treviso), and the smaller Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, produced near the town of Asolo.

Finally, the Bellini, the long drink cocktail that originated in Harry’s Bar in Venice, is a mixture of Prosecco and peach puree.

Polarisation (Pierazzo da Feltre)

Recently, Pierazzo da Feltre reported on Jancis Robinson's web site on the polarisation that is taking place in Proseccoland. I am reprinting parts of his posting here.

... I live in the Asolo DOCG Prosecco Superiore zone. Our territory is, along with the most famous Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore appellation, the premier cru territory inside the greater DOC Prosecco, which covers all of Friuli and almost all of the Veneto, say the whole north east of Italy, producing massive quantities of solid, cheap 'entry-level' Prosecco, which is going to invade the world. (Not buying? Close to 50 million bottles produced in 2006, close to 500 million bottles produced in 2016.) These two DOCG zones are very different from the DOC zone, in just about every repect. Here we are in the hill zone of northern Veneto, close to the Alps. Here the vines are exposed to extreme climate variations, the slopes bringing swings in temperature and humidity every day, with the ground always well drained. Exposure and soil composition vary from parcel to parcel but are always excellent for our grapes. (Above right are the slopes around the village of Rolle.) For these reasons, even a non-skilled taster will always easily be able to distinguish, in a blind tasting, one brother from the other.

So today Prosecco has two faces: inside the DOCG territory wines are more and more complex, refined, important, emotional and, inevitably, costly. In the DOC part, simplicity is the goal, yields are higher, and costs are low thanks to mechanisation (flat terrain, no steep hills). I am not saying that one is good and one is bad, they are both very good, for a very different use and expectation.

Pictures: Touring the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Region

Things change. Twenty years ago Prosecco was an extremely undemanding wine: all the winemaker used the Charmat method, producing the very same wine with the very same technique. You could not distinguish one glass from 20 others made by different winemakers. Prosecco was Prosecco, full stop. The good side of this was that standardisation made the product recognisable, giving it a precise flavour, thus identity. Winemakers became quite rich because the product was good, cheap, recognisable and fulfilled a need. One might say 'perfect'… However, taste, expectations and demand are constantly drifting: wine is nowadays less a commodity and more an emotion, and Prosecco, at least a part of it, has the potential to become quite fine indeed, rather like the process that is taking place in Champagne, in which a growing number of producers are shifting from 'Champagne wines' to 'Wines of Champagne' (the former can be found at the supermarket for less than €15). We have entered the 'polarisation' era, whether you like it or not.

Nowadays the sons (and daughters, more and more) of these 'new-rich former peasants' are clever, interested, passionate, energetic and, last but not least, eco-friendly. They all got a degree at some wine university, they traveled and saw different things. Consequently they know what they are searching for and, controlling wine techniques very well, they know how to get it. What's more, they are not tied to centenarian traditions like their French cousins, so they began to study the old techniques as a starting point for finding some new ones. In the end, it is simply the 'millennial generation' who are creating their own 'generation of wines' for themselves to enjoy. It makes sense. This story is about the astonishing results of this search.

Pictures: Visit of Astoria Vini

... The Prosecco in Casanova's times started with the 'ancestral' method, the same method used for the most traditional Blanquette de Limoux or Gaillac Mousseux: in autumn the cold halted fermentation; in spring the wine, not yet completely fermented, was bottled; the heat re-started the fermentative process inside the bottle, meaning pressure and bubbles. That's all, including the strange habit of leaving the second fermentation lees inside the bottle. If you begin to drink them you may become addicted, like me. This method was used in our zone for more than 150 years, then in 1895 Mr Martinotti invented the re-fermentation method that involved adding to the base wine sugars and yeasts, using large closed vats – as if they were the largest bottle ever invented. Mr Charmat refined and patented the invention, so in the wine books he is the guy. The system was (and is) good for aromatic and semi-aromatic grape varieties, because it boosted aromas, delicacy and freshness more than structure. Glera and Moscato were the perfect candidates in whites, Lambrusco and Brachetto in reds. Thanks to Mr Martinotti and Mr Charmat, Proseccoland enjoyed another 100 years of plenty. But nothing is forever, and people's attitude to wine (and food) roll in and out like the tide. Nowadays people no longer swallow one litre per meal (unless they are me). They drink for pleasure, not for thirst, so they begin to ask for more complexity, refinement and quality. Realising that the time was ripe, some years ago a powerful renewal movement kick-started, with the aim of giving Prosecco identity, character, structure and, above all, the necessary longevity to allow it to evolve. The results are, as I said, astounding.

Firstly they began to conduct the second fermentation in the bottle, as they do in champagne. But Glera is neither Pinot nor Chardonnay, and although the result was very interesting at times, the average consumer, who inevitably compared it with its 'big brother' (champagne) and found it not as good, did not want to buy it. Another way had to be found. In fact these producers found many ways and here are some examples (there are many others), with names in alphabetical order, to help you to navigate this exciting new wave. Try their top wines and behold, a new world will open up before you.

Andreola: expanding, as many others, the 'cru' concept, parcels vinified separately.

Bele-Casel: organic artisans. Boschera, a local grape, reappears to fight today's lack of acidity. In a few years I foresee it crucially coming back. Sulphites, what sulphites?

Bellenda: they produce ancestral, sur lie, traditional method, short traditional (Cava) method, extended Charmat. The first to dare to use wooden fermenters.

Bisol: traditional method at best, and one of the best 'Cartizze' as well (Cartizze being the only Prosecco grand cru zone, 107 hectares). The company is partially owned by Ferrari of Trento.

Bortolomiol: organic, working towards zero carbon footprint.

Cirotto: a wonderful, but not for beginners, zero dosage traditional method.

Col Vetoraz: the DOCG Superiore benchmark. Don't go there on a sunny day. You may fall in love with the unique Cartizze grand cru landscape. And it will be forever.

Dal Bello: their 'Celeber' is an emotional zero dosage Charmat.

Silvano Follador: the pioneer. After years of research, he produces a partially fermented grape must starting from botrytised grapes. Ten years of wood ageing.

Fratelli Bortolin: they make a single fermentation from the must to the bubbles, something like Asti method, sulphite-free.

Loredan Gasparini: single fermentation lasting nine months with indigenous yeasts, character, finesse.

Marchiori. The forerunner. All the five aforementioned historical varieties vinified separately, then balanced in different cuvées before the second fermentation. But also macerations, partial fermentations on grapes already fermented as per reds (part way to ripasso), indigenous yeasts. Above all: the study of vintages and ways of improving structure.

Miotto: the 'sur lie' (somewhat ancestral method but with yeasts and sugar added before bottling, lees left inside) and 'frizzante' (pétillant) specialist.

Merotto: he cuts off half of the yield 20 days before harvest, leaving the cut grapes on the vine, then harvesting all the grapes together, giving concentration, structure.

Pat del Colmel: back from the past, using Rabiosa, Perera and Bianchetta, but also Recantina, a forgotten local red grape. Soon enough Prosecco rosé? Maybe.

Ruggeri, alias Rotkäppchen-Mumm: their 'Giustino B' is an extra-dry world-class Charmat.

Pictures: Visit of Ca'Salina, with Owner Gregorio Bartolin

Visit of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Region

We spent a day in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Region. In the morning, we visited the School of Viticulture and Oenology in Conegliano and had lunch there. On July 9th 1876, just ten years after the annexation of the Veneto region to the Kingdom of Italy, King Vittorio Emanuele II signed the decree authorising the opening of the first School of Viticulture and Oenology in Italy, in Conegliano.

In the afternoon, we split up into smaller groups and each group visited 2 Prosecco producers.

Astoria Wine

Brothers Paolo and Giorgio Polegato, members of the same winemaking family behind Antonini Ceresa Vini, set up Astoria Vini in 1987. Astoria wines are mainly produced from grapes grown on its own 40 acre Tenuta Val De Brun estate in Refrontolo, right in the heart of the DOCG Conegliano-Valdobbiadene zone.

Ca' Salina

The Bortolin family have been producing Prosecco for generations. The Ca'Salina winery was founded in 1950 by Greoriao Bortolin and his wife Neva following a split-up of the family property among several heirs. Today, their sons Massimo and Michele are in charge of the operation.

Other Prosecco Producers Visited

The other groups visited the following producers.

LE COLTURE Winery
Via Follo, 5, Santo Stefano
Tel.: +390423900192
E-Mail: info@lecolture.it
Web: www.lecolture.it

IL COLLE Winery
Web: www.proseccoilcolle.it

VILLA SANDI Winery
Web: www.villasandi.it

BORGOLUCE winery
Web: www.borgoluce.it/en

Bortolomiol Winery
Via Garibaldi Giuseppe, 142, Valdobbiadene
Tel.: +3904239749/+390423975066
E-Mail: info@bortolomiol.com
Web: www.bortolomiol.com

LA TORDERA winery
Web: www.latordera.it

VAL D’OCA winery
Web: www.valdoca.com

schiller-wine: Related Postings

Heads up for the 2017 Tours - to Germany and France - by ombiasy WineTours  

Burgundy (and Champagne) 2016 Tour by ombiasy WineTours: From Lyon to Reims - Wine, Food, Culture and History

Bordeaux Tour by ombiasy WineTours 2016, France

Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History

Germany-North Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours: Quintessential German Riesling and the Northernmost Pinot Noir

Germany-South Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015) 

Book Review by Christian Schiller in Journal of Wine Economics (Vol 11, No 3): MARK E. RICARDO: Simply Burgundy: A Practical Guide to Understanding the Wines of Burgundy. Mark E. Ricardo Book, 2014, 56 pp., ISBN 978-0990513704 Q4 (paperback), $12.99

Book Review by Christian Schiller in Journal of Wine Economics (Vol 11, No 2): JOHN WINTHROP HAEGER: Riesling Rediscovered: Bold, Bright and Dry. University of California Press, Oakland, 2016, 369 pp., ISBN 978-0-520-27545-4, $39.95

Book Review of "Wine Atlas of Germany" in Vol 10, No 1, 2015 of Journal of Wine Economics (Cambridge University Press)

Christian G.E. Schiller's Review of the Book: Ralf Frenzel (ed.) - Riesling, Robert Weil. Tre Torri, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2013, in: Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 9, 2014, No. 1, Cambridge University Press

Venice, Padua and the Wines of Veneto: Annual Conference of the American Association of Wine Economists (AAWE) in Italy, 2017

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tasting at Weingut Uwe Lützkendorf, with Uwe Lützkendorf, in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Picture: Tasting at Weingut Uwe Lützkendorf, with Uwe Lützkendorf, in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

The first wine region we visited on the Germany-East Tour 2016 by ombiasy WineTours was the Saale-Unstrut Region. There, we visited 3 wineries: Weingut Lützkendorf, Weingut Bernhard Pawis and Weingut Heil. The former 2 are heavy-weights; these are the only 2 members of the VDP, the association of about 200 German elite winemakers, in the Saale-Unstrut Region. Weingut Heil is an up-and-coming wine producer.

The Saale-Unstrut wine region sits on 51st latitude and is Germany’s northernmost wine region, located in the valleys of the Saale and Unstrut rivers, an area of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). The oldest record of viticulture dates back to the year 998 during the reign of Emperor Otto III.

Picture: Saale Unstrut Wine Region

Weingut Lützkendorf was founded at the dawn of the 19th century and existed until 1959 when the GDR authorities nationalized the property and integrated the estate into the government run Agricultural Cooperative. In 1991, after the reunification of the two German States the vineyards were returned to the family. Uwe Lützkendorf reestablished the winery, revamped the vineyards, and built new production facilities in Bad Kösen.

Picture: Weingut Lützkendorf

To listen to Uwe Lützkendorf , and also to his fellow winemakers in this former GDR area, recounting their stories of reviving an economic and agriculture waste land after German reunification, is living history and worthy of a spy thriller.

Picture: Uwe Lützkendorf

Weingut Lützkendorf

Weingut Lützkendorf is in Bad Kösen on the Saale River; administratively, Bad Kösen is part of the town of Naumburg. The state-run winery Kloser Pforta is also in Bad Kösen. Uwe Lutzkendorf is the winemaker and owner.

Pictures: Welcome

Weingut Lützkendorf was founded at the dawn of the 19th century and existed until 1959 when the GDR authorities integrated the estate (2 hectares) into the government run Agricultural Cooperative.

Udo Lützkendorf, the father of Uwe, was the Director and Cellar master from 1972 to 1992 in what was then the state-owned, and now again state-owned Kloster Pforta Estate, most of the time in the GDR and for 3 years in the re-unified Germany.

The Lützkendorf’s vineyards were handed back to the family in 1991 and the Lützkendorfs made their own wine again with the 1991 vintage. What then followed was a major re-launch, including replanting the vineyards, buying and leasing new vineyards and building a winery, including a Gutsausschank (winery tavern).

Picture: Wolfgang Junglas, Uwe Lützkendorf, Stuart Pigott. See: Tasting the Best of Virginia Wines in Frankfurt, Germany, with Stuart Pigott: Virginia Governor's Cup Case 2016

In 1996 the winery Lützkendorf was the first estate in the Saale-Unstrut region to become member of the prestigious VDP, the Association of Germany’s Premium Winemakers.

Today, the vineyard area totals 11 hectares, with holdings in the Edelacker (Freyburg), Hohe Gräte (Karsdorf) and Köppelberg (Schulpforte). The area is planted with Silvaner (35%), Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Traminer, Müller-Thurgau and Kerner, as well as with Pinot Noir, Portugieser and Blauer Zweigelt.

The stony soils and the climate of this northern wine region decisively influences the character of the wines. Uwe Lützkendorf’s philosophy of wine making is as little intervention as possible to showcase the character of the terroir. The wines are matured very reductively in either stainless steel tanks or in oak vats. With very few exceptions, the wines are fermented dry.

“40 percent of our wines are sold to top restaurants, largely in the eastern part of Germany. The same amount is sold directly to private customers and the remaining 20 percent in the winery’s wine tavern.”

Pictures: Tasting with Uwe Lützkendorf

The Wines Uwe Lützkendorf Poured

Uwe poured an impressive series of wines.

Picture: Impressive Selection

2016 Weingut Lützkendorf Silvaner Pfortenser Köppelberg VDP:Gutswein trocken
2013 Weingut Lützkendorf Silvaner Pfortenser Köppelberg VDP:Guswein trocken
2015 Weingut Lützkendorf Silvaner Karsdorfer Hohe Gräte VDP:Erste Lage trocken
2014 Weingut Lützkendorf Silvaner Karsdorfer Hohe Gräte VDP:Erste Lage Spätlese


2016 Weingut Lützkendorf Weisburgunder Karsdorfer Hohe Gräte VDP.Erste Lage trocken
2014 Weingut Lützkendorf Weisburgunder Karsdorfer Hohe Gräte VDP.Grosse Lage GG


2014 Weingut Lützkendorf Riesling Karsdorfer Hohe Gräte VDP.Erste Lage Kabinett
2014 Weingut Lützkendorf Riesling Karsdorfer Hohe Gräte VDP.Grosse Lage GG
2008 Weingut Lützkendorf Riesling Karsdorfer Hohe Gräte Spätlese


Bye-bye

Thank you very much Uwe for an outstanding tasting.

Picture: Bye-bye

 Postings: Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History (Published and Forthcoming Postings)

Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours: Wine, Art, Culture and History

Wine Tasting Lunch at Weingut Frölich-Hake in Naumburg-Rossbach, Saale-Unstrut, Germany, with Sandra Hake – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Weingut Pawis in the Saale Unstrut Region: Tour and Wine Tasting with Marcus Pawis – Germany-East Tour 2017 by ombiasy WineTours

Tasting at Weingut Lützkendorf in Bad Kösen, Saale-Unstrut, with Uwe Lützkendorf

Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in the Saale Unstrut Region, Germany

Wine and Music: Lunch with Gottfried Herrlich at Restaurant Weingut Vincenz Richter in Meissen

Visit of Weingut Klaus Zimmerling: The Wines of Klaus Zimmerling and the Art of his Wife Malgorzata Chodakoska - Germany-East Wine and Art Tour by ombiasy WineTours (2015)

Wine tasting Dinner at Winebar “Weinzentrale” in Dresden-Neustadt, with Owner/ Sommelier Jens Pietzonka 

Visit:Weingut Martin Schwarz in Meissen

Visit, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Schloss Proschwitz, Prinz zur Lippe in Zadel, Sachsen, with Georg Prinz zur Lippe

Schiller's Favorite Winemakers in Sachsen (Saxony), Germany

Vineyard tour, Cellar Tour, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Zur Schwane in Volkach, Franken with Winemaker Christian Kallisch

Vinyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Horst Sauer in Eschendorf, Franken, with Horst Sauer

Vineyard tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Fürstlich Castell'sches Domänenamt, with General Manager/ Winemaker Björn Probst

Michelin-star Level Winepairing Dinner at Winzerhof Stahl, Franken, Prepared by Winemaker/ Chef Christian Stahl

Cellar Tour and Tasting at Weingut Juliusspital in Würzburg, Franken

Schiller’s Favorites: 2 Legendary Wine Taverns in Würzburg – Juliusspital and Bürgerspital

Schiller’s Favorite Wine Taverns in Würzburg

Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour, Lunch and Tasting at Weingut Fürst Hohenlohe Öhringen in Öhringen–Verrenberg,Württemberg with Winemaker Joachim Brand

Cellar Tour, Vineyard Tour, Tasting and Dinner at Weingut Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder in Schozach, Württemberg, with Kilian Graf von Bentzel-Sturmfeder

Tour and Tasting at Weingut Wchstetter in Pfaffenhofen, Württemberg, with Rainer Wachtstetter

Lunch at Restaurant Schloss Monrepos Ludwigsburg, Württemberg, with Chef Ben Benasr (1 Sar Michelin)

Tour and Tasting at Weingut Herzog von Württemberg at Schloss Monrepos in Ludwigsburg, Württemberg, with Andrea Ritz, Wine Queen of Württemberg