Few cities are extra intimately acquainted with a drink than Venice is with prosecco. Produced primarily within the Veneto area, of which Venice is the capital, it’s sipped in each back-street bacaro and plush lodge bar throughout city, regardless of the hour. It offers the fizz in a bellini and tops up many a spritz as lengthy Venetian afternoons give approach to night. Some locations even have it on faucet.
As I’ve come to the Veneto to be taught extra about this surgingly well-liked glowing wine (Britons purchased 85m bottles of prosecco final yr; the UK market is predicted to develop by greater than 10% between now and 2020) it feels applicable that Venice is my first cease. Indeed, it might be impolite to not spend a day dipping out and in of tiny wine bars across the metropolis, getting a way of how prosecco must be drunk, earlier than heading inland to learn how it’s made.
We start at Cantina Do Mori, across the nook from the Rialto meals market. This low-lit room, with copper pots hanging from the ceiling and a protracted counter laden with cicchetti (bar snacks), is alleged to be the oldest bacaro in Venice. One of my companions, Luca Dusi, who co-owns the east London wine distributor Passione Vino, orders a bottle of the home fizz whereas Maurilio Molteni, head chef at Tozi in Victoria, London – who is scouting for brand spanking new glowing wines to stock at his restaurant – negotiates the cicchetti.
Bottoms up … Cantina Do Mori, close to the Rialto market in Venice. Photograph: Alamy
The prosecco, which we drink out of coupe glasses, is a crisp, refined model of the usually sickly candy drink I do know from again home. “Not bad,” says Luca, noting the flavour of Williams pear frequent to most kinds of prosecco. He takes one other sip and raises a conspiratorial eyebrow. “But I think we can find better.”
Our subsequent cease, within the college space of Dorsoduro, is a stunning little canal-side bar referred to as Adriatico Mar, which specialises in meals and wine from Italy’s coastal areas. The proprietor, Francesco Molinari, lays out a range for us, starting with a chic baccalà (salt cod) crostini with pink peppercorns, which will get an approving nod from Maurilio. Although there’s no fizz right here, I do attempt an fascinating nonetheless wine constructed from glera, the prosecco grape. It has the grapefruit notes that you just discover in some proseccos however no sparkle and little or no of the sweetness.
Luca is eager to indicate me one more aspect of prosecco, one which has turn into more and more well-liked lately, and so we slip out of Venice and drive north-east to Ponte di Piave. In this unassuming city on the Veneto flatlands, Carolina Gatti has been placing her stamp on the household vineyard since she took over in 2012. We go to her home amid the vineyards for dinner – pork ribs in pink wine – and take a look at her model of prosecco, which she produces col fondo, or unfiltered. The result’s cloudy, because of the sediment within the bottle, and full-bodied, its strong apple and baked-bread flavours a world away from the fragile drink we had earlier at Do Mori.
Col fondo is not only a brand new development: it’s how Carolina’s household has been making prosecco for generations. It is simply up to now decade, because it began changing into trendy outdoors the area, that she has began bottling it for public consumption. Carolina’s wines are magnificent – gutsy and sophisticated – however by this stage I’m craving a little bit of surroundings. The subsequent morning, we head north into the mountainous coronary heart of prosecco nation.
Grape expectations … harvest time in Valdobbiadene. Photograph: Sergio Pitamitz/Getty Images
The space between the cities of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene is one in all two areas the place prosecco with the designation of origin DOCG is produced. It’s not essentially higher than DOC prosecco from the broader Veneto, explains Luca, however it tells you that the bubbles in your glass come from the heartlands, the place prosecco has been made because the mid-19th century.
Encircling the area is the Strada del Prosecco, a 90km wine route that winds by way of villages and previous historical church buildings, castles and hermitages, in addition to limitless rows of neatly planted vines. We be a part of it at Conegliano and head west, passing the Scuola Enologica, Italy’s oldest wine faculty, on our approach out of city. The panorama will get progressively hillier in the direction of Valdobbiadene and at a sure level the mist clears, revealing the snowy Dolomites within the far distance.
Vineyards close to Conegliano. Photograph: Gito Trevisan/Getty Images
On a hilltop above Col San Martino, we pause to soak up the dramatic view. Gazing out throughout the undulating panorama, evidently each accessible inch of land, nevertheless steep, is planted with vines – it’s no shock that the DOCG space yields 90m bottles of prosecco a yr.
We descend to the city of Sernaglia della Battaglia, and cease by slightly osteria on Via Roma. There’s no signal outdoors – it’s recognized domestically as Silmava’s – and the inside is apparent, with an outdated marble counter, pink and yellow tiles on the ground and framed poems on the wall. The proprietor, Silmava Pillonetto, inherited the bar from her mother and father, who opened it 70 years in the past. Cloudy prosecco is her factor, although Silmava notes that ingesting habits have modified through the years and early-morning clients as of late need espresso as an alternative of wine. We have a few glasses of chilled col fondo to appropriate the steadiness, and head on, totally charmed.
The ultimate cease of our journey is Malibràn, a vineyard outdoors the city of Susegana, with its looming 13th-century fort of San Salvatore. Though his farm is a number of instances bigger than Carolina’s, Maurizio Favrel nonetheless harvests his grapes by hand. He walks us by way of the cellar, explaining how his col fondo is fermented within the bottle after an preliminary stage in a metal tank, whereas his filtered prosecco is tank-fermented all over.
San Salvatore Castle in Susegana. Photograph: Gito Trevisan/Getty Images
After the tour, we retire to the property kitchen, the place Maurilio unpacks the greens and seafood we purchased from the Rialto market the day earlier than and will get cooking. As properly as feeding us handsomely – with castraure artichokes, gratinated langoustine and a brodetto of sea bass and monkfish – Maurilio helps ship the final and most vital lesson of the journey. Prosecco shouldn’t be considered merely an aperitif. If it’s ok and has a little bit of col fondo character, as Malibràn’s cloudy Sottoriva does, you possibly can drink it with all types of meals.
You don’t have to be in a Venetian bacaro, or amid rolling vineyards within the Veneto, to understand this lesson, however it definitely isn’t a disadvantage if you’re.
Way to go
Doubles at Casadisergio in Refrontolo from £80 B&B. In Venice, Hotel San Samuele has doubles from £70 room solely. BA flies from Gatwick to Venice Marco Polo from £31 a technique