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Aged Prosecco and other surprises

Aged Prosecco and other surprises

My tasting notes state the following: “The wine is golden yellow in color with intense, complex notes of apple and mature pear, with exotic fruit and minerality. The wine has hints of citrus and almond undertones on the nose. On the palate, it is full bodied but elegant with fruit aromas and a vein of acidity.” What could this wine possibly be, a white wine that I tasted at its maturity?

The label left me breathless, a Prosecco from Valdobbiadene. There was a further surprise however that left me even more speechless, this Prosecco was 31 years old and it was from the 1983 vintage.

Not all Prosecco are equal

Well then, if longevity is what makes a wine noble, this 1983 proves that those who make fun of Prosecco or see it as an inferior wine that is easy to make are wrong. However, it should be noted that not all Proseccos are created equal. This wine that is now so well known with its 330 million bottles sold, is not always what I found in this particular bottle.

Nino Franco

In fact, the label on the bottle gives that away and its creator, Primo Franco, was one of the first 40 years ago, who decided to make quality Prosecco. In 1979 when I wrote my first wine columns for the weekly, Il Mondo, I mentioned “100 wines that were DOC” designated and the only Prosecco in the group was from Nino Franco. Primo Franco took over at the winery six years earlier and he had already made numerous changes at the winery (I must confess that a very exceptional consultant suggest the winery to me – Luigi Veronelli).

Aged Prosecco. The vertical tasting

During those early years, Primo Franco was working under very strict conditions, which were not typical for Italy at that time, trying to make his Prosecco the best expression of the territory, carefully selecting his grapes, improving his equipment, redoing his labels and updating the brand. In 1983, he notes, “I was looking to rediscover the original taste of Prosecco,” he created a wine that he cared about so much so that he gave it his name. The wines that I tasted in his winery were the culmination of a fantastic vertical tasting of great vintages and were wines that were his first vintages.

After 30 years

Compared with the seven vintages that we tasted that were younger and that he made with much more experience, the 1983 held its own. It was created in a frizzante style not as a spumante, with less carbon dioxide compared to what the wines have in them today. Tasting it after 30 years, it no longer has bubbles, it is a still white wine that has not been oxidized (it’s actually paler than the 1984 and 1986) and it has gained in complexity and texture.

Surprisingly age worthy wines

The Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG is the first incredible example of a surprisingly age worthy enological gem that I have found thus far. Primo Franco on the other hand expected this when he created the wine, actually he made the wine with this intent otherwise why would he have put 100 bottles of the wine aside 30 years ago which has enabled him to have a sufficient number for his amazing vertical tastings.

Read for free the full article in Italian Wine Chronicle 1/2015

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