Prosecco is trendy. All over the world people are popping corks of the ubiquitous wine- juicy, fresh, bubbly, light, and energetic. To understand what it means to be a boutique Prosecco winery in this age, when big conglomerates ship incredible quantities, we are in the countryside outside of Treviso, in the heart of the Veneto region. The presence of the Glera grape here dates back to the times of the Roman Empire, and it is with grapes sourced only in these vineyards that Col di Rocca Prosecco is made.
In 2005, Adriano and Emanuela Gurian took over some fertile land in the undulating landscape of the Prosecco DOCG Conegliano-Valdobiaddene area. Their Riva di Rocca family farm estate, just 11 hectares is size, peeks out from a vibrant valley of leafy green.
As a young winery, they are devoted to creating wines that are a tribute to the land, whose potential Adriano saw immediately. Locals have always known the soil here is special. The rolling hills were formed in the wake of ancient glaciers that left behind veins of mineral deposits. The varying aspects and consistent climate form the perfect topography and conditions for grape growing.
In fact, the Veneto Agricultural Development Board (ESAV), in collaboration with the University of Milan, have spent the past few years undertaking an in-depth study of the DOCG Prosecco di Conegliano and Valdobbiadene areas. The Riva di Rocca estate has been recently classified as a privileged site for grape production for sparkling wine.
Today, Umberto and Tamara, two full-time members of the Col di Rocca team, are giving us the tour.
One luxury of being a small estate is that Adriano and Emanuela have a real physical connection to every plant in the vineyards. They remember which corners saw a little more rain this year, as well as which plants climb most vigorously.
As Umberto explains, the soils are highly calcareous- composed of marl, gravel and mineral salts. The nutrient-rich earth, coupled with Glera’s natural zealous vine growth, means that keeping the yields low to meet the strict Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG regulations requires skill and knowledge of the land. Glera has the capacity to be wonderfully expressive but, as most grapes, it loses flavor at high yields. For this reason, Col di Rocca has incorporated lower yields into their ethos to encourage plant competition.
We glance around us at the fields surrounding the vines-- olive trees, innumerable species of shrubs, wildflowers, and herbs crowd the meadow floor. These fields are part of an ecosystem that has existed for centuries. Umberto explains that due to this deliberate competition, the roots of the vines strive to dig deep into the soil to collect water and nutrients. The result is slightly smaller but tastier grapes with unparalleled flavor concentration that creates heavenly wine.
Glera flourishes with the pronounced temperature change from day to night during the ripening period that enhance its spicy, aromatic, and ripe sensations. Adriano and his team harvest all the grapes by hand, and run them quickly to the winery. To retain the soft, refreshing aromas, the grapes are crushed, destemmed and pressed into stainless steel vats. Here they will cold ferment for 25-30 days to allow every aromatic compound to reach its full potential.
Inside the tasting room, we toast the team for their precision and artistry. Today we are tasting the full range, but our attention is drawn to the sublime Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Consumers are often beguiled by the drinkability of Prosecco, but don’t mistake it for simplicity. Adriano and Emanuela’s creations are anything but.
This wine is dry, light and fresh. The nose is a floral bloom of rose petals and wisteria, leading to a full palate of fruit, zippy yet elegant with notes of lemon, grapefruit, a spritz of lime zest, crunchy green apples and pears, ripe summer peaches and apricots. It is fragrant and heady, the perlage small and vivacious relaying opulence, with a subtle note of honey to finish.
This Prosecco is certainly a celebration wine, its energy and exuberance both refreshing and contagious. But, as we have learned, with Col di Rocca there is always more than meets the eye. It is indeed a fantastic aperitif, but the complex notes present in the Prosecco Superiore lend themselves wonderfully to food. All types of fish and shellfish are encouraged; also fried foods, salty cured meats like prosciutto, spicy Asian entrees, earthy mushrooms, creamy pastas (cut perfectly by the pitching acidity)... we could go on. Prosecco’s versatility should never be underestimated.
“We would like to continue to grow in size,” says Umberto, “But only if we are able to do so sustainably, never losing sight of the special nature of this place, and the quality of our fruit.”
Col di Rocca really is one of Veneto’s best kept secrets, but one that we are happy to share with you.