Over the past few years, Prosecco has become a vinicultural and enological phenomenon, with a production capacity of 355 million bottles (2015 figures). A veritable powerhouse, whose overall turnover is close to €2 billion per annum, with exports accounting for 70% of production. Big numbers that are often the prerogative of big businesses.
It is only natural that there should be less and less room for boutique, family-run wineries that focus on craft, quality and terroir. There are, nonetheless, happy islands in the Prosecco sea, ones that continue to champion traditional grape-growing and small-scale production with painstaking attention to detail, sensitive to the needs of the environment and respectful of the bond between wine and its soil.
The Marchiori winery is one of them: a small, family-run estate standing on 12 hectares under vine at Farra di Soligo – mostly old vines (over 50 years, in some cases), on steeply sloping land that makes it impossible to mechanize vineyard management and requires sartorial care of each vine by hand, taking up as many as 770 man hours per hectare a year.
There are a total of sixteen small plots of old vineyards featuring Prosecco classic grape varieties – round-leafed Glera and long-leafed Glera – as well as little known and little used native varieties like Bianchetta, Verdiso and Perera.
“Compared to a general scenario where Prosecco has been turned into a commodity,” remarked Umberto Marchiori, “we aim to respect the bond between wine and terroir, so we also employ and enhance minor varieties that have always been present in our territory.”
Umberto is not only a Prosecco Valdobbiadene producer but a wine scholar (he is currently completing a PhD on topics relating to white wine vinification), and is thoroughly familiar with Prosecco’s characteristics and how they can be heightened.
“Experience and familiarity with terrains and grapes have led us, in time, to favor vinification with indigenous yeasts,” followed by classic refermentation in the bottle which, however, unlike in Metodo Classico, does not include dégorgement.
The yeasts that trigger fermentation are thus trapped in the bottle, prompting a number of positive effects: “In the first place, they protect wine from oxidation and enable it to evolve over time, to mature and take on different fragrances and flavor nuances through the years,” said Umberto.
These wines are exceptionally cellar-worthy for the category and can evolve beautifully for as long as 8 to 10 years.
“We’ve recently held a vertical tasting of our wines at the winery and I must say even the 2007 and 2008 vintages held up extremely well,” Umberto continued.
At the same time, Marchiori’s Prosecco is delightfully enjoyed as soon as it hits the shelves, right after the twelve months intervening between harvest and release of a new vintage.
For instance, his Prosecco Valdobbiadene ‘5 Varietà Integrale’ lashes the palate with its vibrant acidity, counterpointed by a crisp bouquet centered on intense nuances of lemon and wisteria. Juicy, lively, deep and fragrant, each sip prepares the palate for the next one. This is anything but a frivolous offering and it’s unfair to confine it to appetizers; on the other hand, it can easily be enjoyed as an all-around food wine, with a natural preference for fish.
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