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A large number of imitations have unfortunately sprung up around Prosecco in recent years: this is understandable given the success of the product and the ever-increasing loyalty and consideration it enjoys among consumers. Such phenomena, which are difficult to monitor or control, risked causing confusion in the trade and among wine drinkers both in Italy and abroad as well as damaging the reputation of one of the most popular products that reflect “Italian style”. For this reason, after a great deal of hard work, the Agriculture Ministry approved – on 17 th July 2009 – the reorganization of Prosecco production. This involves the tightening of controls and firmer guarantees, as well as endorsing a radical change: Prosecco is in fact no longer just a wine produced from a particular type of grape, but rather the wine of a precise geographical area.
This change has led to the identification of two different quality levels: the attribution of the D.O.C.G. to the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene zone and the creation of a “basic” D.O.C. which replaces all of the present I.G.T.s.
Just over forty years after it attained Denominazione di Origine Controllata status (the D.O.C. dates back to 1969), Conegliano-Valdobbiadene takes its rightful place – together with the small Colli Asolani zone – in the highest category of Italian quality wines: Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.
The historic set-up of the Denomination remains unaltered, but its overall vision changes and becomes broader in scope, giving the product yet more added value.
The territory guarantees the Superiority of the product. All the D.O.C.G. wines will highlight on the label the name of the Denomination "Conegliano-Valdobbiadene", followed by “Prosecco Superiore” in the case of the spumante. This sparkling wine can show on the label either the name of the principal Denomination (“Conegliano-Valdobbiadene”) or “Conegliano” or “Valdobbiadene”.
The production zone. The production zone is the historic one, restricted to the hillsides of the 15 communes lying between the two main towns of Conegliano and VaIdobbiadene; the limited size of the area bears witness to the precious nature of the product.
The grapes. According to tradition, the wine is produced from a minimum of 85% grapes of the Glera variety and a maximum of 15% of Verdiso, Bianchetta, Perera and Glera Lunga grapes, varieties that have been present for centuries in the hills of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. For the (fully sparkling) spumante, Pinot and/or Chardonnay grapes can also be used.
Yield. The maximum grape yield for D.O.C.G. is 13.5 tonnes/ha.
With the introduction of the “Rive” (reserved for fully sparkling wines) one can now state on the label the name of the commune or village from which the grapes come.
The term "Rive" indicates, in the local dialect, those vineyards situated on steep slopes, and this category of wines aims to highlight the quality and the very different characteristics that the various localities within the denomination express. For the "Rive" wines, maximum yields are reduced to 13 tonnes/ha, the grapes must be picked by hand and the vintage must be shown on the label.
“Cartizze”. The peak of quality under the D.O.C.G. continues to be expressed by the sparkling wine from the historic "Superiore di Cartizze" subzone, for which the maximum grape yield is 12 tonnes/ha.
In order to safeguard Prosecco and control the quality of its production, the new “basic” Denomination called “Prosecco” has been created. The Prosecco variety will be indicated by its old synonym, "Glera".
The legal motivations. Full recognition of “Prosecco” as a Denomination of Origin referring to a wine and to intellectual property protected under the European Community’s legislation on quality products was made possible by a combination of two factors: on the one hand, the tradition as a producer of the Province of Treviso, in which 90% of the entire current production of Prosecco takes place and which includes the hilly area of the D.O.C.G., and on the other the presence of the place called Prosecco, situated close to Trieste and linked historically with the origin of the grape variety.
The production zone. The D.O.C. production zone consists of the 9 Provinces in the Veneto and Friuli where cultivation of the Prosecco variety was already authorized. This new D.O.C. encompasses and takes the place of the existing I.G.T.s (Prosecco Colli Trevigiani, Prosecco Marca Trevigiana, Prosecco del Veneto, Prosecco Alto Livenza, Prosecco delle Venezie), becoming effectively a single area. The old I.G.T.s may be sold until stocks last (the end of 2010 at the latest).
The new D.O.C. also allows for the possibility to specify the area of origin of the grapes if in the Provinces of Treviso or Trieste.