Recompense for Column on Prosecco

FREDRIC KOEPPEL | Special to The Memphis News

Two weeks ago in this column, while recommending the Adami Garbèl Brut Prosecco to your attention, I said that the producers of Prosecco were “shooting themselves in the foot” by allowing the expansion of the vineyard area from which the sparkling wine could be made and that this example of “greed and opportunism” would result in lower quality.

Shortly thereafter, I received a message from Sarah Warner, who works for Jarvis Communications in Los Angeles, thanking me for the recommendation and telling me that I was dead wrong about the expansion of the Prosecco area. Readers, I am man enough to own up to an error and to make recompense for it.

OK, here come a lot of technical terms in Italian. That country’s wine industry operates under the government’s DOC system, which stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, a group of complicated rules that apply to every aspect of growing grapes and making wine in each region. A higher category, intended for the elite wines, is Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). All of the regulations are intended, ideally, to protect the heritage and quality of Italian wines; the system doesn’t always work.

Anyway, and briefly, in July 2009, the Ministry of Agriculture approved some drastic changes for Prosecco. First, a Prosecco DOC zone was established, bringing many areas and communes in the Veneto region under one regulatory umbrella (not expanding the vineyard area as I thought). Second, DOCG status was conferred on the communes of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, long regarded as having the best soil, geology and climate for growing prosecco grapes. Third, the name of the grape, prosecco, was returned to its old traditional name, glera; that will take some getting used to.

These details may seem like arcane minutiae to many readers, but the attempt to protect the reputation of the increasingly popular sparkling wine may result in better quality in the bottle; that’s certainly the motivation.

Next week, back to wine recommendations.

For more about wine, check out Koeppel’s blog at www.biggerthanyourhead.net.