It’s true though, and ben venga. By the time the next vendemmia (grape harvest or vintage) is bottled, you might find both the phrase Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore printed on its label, and the pink DOCG fascetta (seal) ringing its neck, just like bottles of Barolo, Chianti Classico, Brunello, and other DOCG* wines. With that pink strip, you can be assured that the Prosecco you’re drinking is not only Italian, but was produced in the area that made it famous.
The producers originally wanted to feature only the territory name on the label, but realized almost immediately that outside the Veneto it was the grape prosecco that most of its fans know, not the unpronounceable-without-prodigious-practice, ten-syllable region names.
Therefore, the Prosecco name stands, and now refers to a geographic location (even though the variety itself has been renamed to its synonymous glera).
In addition, the term “superiore” on an Italian wine (such as a Valpolicella Superiore) indicates an alcohol content higher than that of the same non-superiore wine, and is the result of a riper-than-normal vintage. I’m not sure this is the case with the use of superiore in the DOCG name, but I hope to learn soon.
What will change as a result of Prosecco’s DOCG status? First, there’s the guarantee that you’re drinking what you think you’re drinking, and it came from where you expect it to come from. Since its explosive popularity, Prosecco has been imitated all over the world – the producers were quite right to want to put a stop to it. That, and the cost of the wine may be higher (most DOCGs do cost more) we’ll see once this year’s vintage is on the market.
(Do remember however, that a DOCG status, like the number of stars in a hotel rating, is not an automatic indicator of how good a given wine might be, but rather a guarantee of HOW the wine is created, and of its true origin: the varieties it’s made from, where the vineyards are located, vinification methods, etc. A favorite producer or a good vintage year will be a better indicator of quality, but we’ll keep an eye out on which producers go DOCG…and of course conduct diligent and thorough research.
* Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, the most stringent of Italian wine production categories (followed by DOC, Denominazione di Origine Controllata, IGT – Indicazione Geografica Tipica, and vino di tavola, in that order).
The photos above are from the 2007 vendemmia of Coste Piane Prosecco Sur Lie. I continue to credere that each glass I drank from that vintage contained at least few of the grapes I hand-picked in it…