Bisol, the Founding Family of Prosecco Superiore
Prosecco Superiore is slated to be one of 2018’s definitive drinking trends. With sparkling wine sales on a steady rise, the premium Italian offering can’t help but find itself in the spotlight. As culinary trends like charcuterie, vegetarian and vegan options and spice-heavy cuisine continue to gain a foothold in homes and hospitality alike, this premium category is well-poised for a takeoff. Easy to pair with any course, from hors d’oeuvres to cake, Prosecco Superiore is living, bubbly proof that Americans’ love of full, complex sparklers can take on a decidedly refined tone.
Prosecco Superiore is made primarily from the Glera grape (once called Prosecco grape), blended with other white varietals to produce each distinct vintage. Only wines made within the Italian growing regions of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene can be classified in this manner. In the glass, the wines are an elegant pale gold in hue and range in levels of carbonation from frizzante (fizzy) to spumante (fully sparkling). Bisol is considered to be the grand cru of Prosecco, whose Glera, Verdiso and Pinot Bianco grapes are grown on the steep hills of the Bisol Vineyards in Valdobbiadene and has blazed its trail straight to the American wine market to great success. Widely referred to as the “first family” of Prosecco Superiore, Bisol’s award-winning bottles have dominated Italian sparkling wine sales on shelves, bars and restaurants alongside other well-known brands like Nino Franco and Santa Margherita.
Owing to its comparatively low alcohol content and crisp, acidic finish, this is one flute of bubbles that’s as welcome at a casual dinner with food-loving friends as it is at any formal or celebratory occasion. That’s why you’ll notice Prosecco Superiore on more wine lists, cellars and racks: sommeliers and enthusiasts alike are discovering its pleasing palate and versatile drinkability and sharing the bubbles with a world thirsty for distinction.
While Prosecco does enjoy great visibility within the wine world as an “everyday” sparkling wine, it’s ultimately the thriving market for the ultra-refined qualities of Prosecco Superiore that will push these beloved bottles into a premium category enjoyed by few others. Here, we chatted with Gianluca Bisol, president of Bisol, about the ideal way to drink prosecco and what Bisol’s new offering means for the market.
How would you define Prosecco Superiore for the American wine drinker?
Prosecco has become extremely popular in the USA over the last few years, but the lion’s share of the bottles found on the shelves are the simpler Prosecco D.O.C. Prosecco Superiore is perfect for those customers who wish to literally step up a level in quality and experience its versatility thanks to its unparalleled elegance, perfect balance and its greater aromatic intensity and delicacy. The reduced yield per hectare (30% less than Prosecco D.O.C.) really permits these characteristics to stand out allowing a Prosecco Superiore to be instantly recognizable the moment it is poured.
What flavor and textural characteristics set Prosecco Superiore apart from standard-issue Italian sparkling wine?
The majority of Italian sparkling wine, considered from the points of view of variety on offer and denomination, is represented by Moscato D’Asti and the classic method which, differing from Prosecco, is obtained from other grapes and different production methods that exalt a diverse array of characteristics. Prosecco Superiore, thanks to the masterful application of the Charmat method, presents itself as pleasantly fresh, balanced and creamy on the palate. This is due to the balanced residual sugar level which ennobles the varietal characteristics.
What are some of your favorite Italian dishes local to Valdobbiadene to pair with Prosecco Superiore?
Prosecco Superiore is perfect throughout the meal. It lends itself to unforgettable aperitifs and gets the best out of all fish, vegetable or white meat-based dishes. My personal preference, however, always tends towards the appetizers that here in Veneto we call ‘cicchetti’ or small bites, which are served with the aperitif: ranging from battered and lightly fried vegetables to toasted canapés with creamed dried cod, to crusty bread with local cold salami cuts such as the ‘Soppressa bruschette’.
What are some qualities in soil that contribute to a premium-quality prosecco?
The soil is one of the key factors in determining the character of a wine. We are extremely fortunate that the hills of Valdobbiadene are for the most part of marine origin. Resting on solid bedrock the slightly crumbly make-up of the superficial strata with its high mineral salt and iron content allows the roots of the Glera vines, a grape variety that is very sensitive to changes in soil and weather, to penetrate deep into the ground and absorb the precious minerals that endow the grapes with a great richness of noble acids and aromatic precursors. These are then enhanced during the vinification and sparkling stages making the Prosecco Superiore unmistakable and heady.
Crede, historically one of Bisol’s most representative products, expresses the peculiarities of the clay-laden soil from which it gets its name. “Crede” in fact is the local dialect term for clay, the element that characterises the soil of the vineyards in the municipality of Valdobbiadene that have been chosen to give rise to this Prosecco Superiore. Ancient slopes once covered by the sea and formed by the slow movement of the land, which arched up and inclined the strata vertically. This ground allows the water to be stored close to the roots of the vines avoiding the effects of drought. In this way the grapes become enriched with the noble acids that endow them with their elegant and delicate floral notes.
On the other hand the grapes employed in the creation of Molera, a versatile Prosecco Superiore extra dry suitable for all occasions, come from hills with thin chalky rock strata. The roots of the vines are able to easily lick the ancient and thin rock strata characteristic of the hills in which they are grown allowing the grapes to become enriched with delicate mineral notes and nuances of fresh white flowers.
What does it say about the American wine drinker that Prosecco Superiore has enjoyed such a rise in popularity?
Prosecco Superiore is so popular throughout the world because no other sparkling wines exists with the same characteristics: easy to drink, perfect for all convivial moments and with an excellent price to quality ratio. A high-quality sparkling wine which has nothing to envy when compared with Champagne. It is the fruit of heroic viticulture seeing as the Valdobbiadene hills are particularly steep and all cultivation and harvesting must be carried out by hand. In the high hills, where the slopes are at their steepest, 900 to 1000 hours per hectare are required to work the vineyards (the Cartizze hill for example). This is important data if we consider that in the plains, where Prosecco DOC is produced, mechanization is very marked, and the hours required to work a vineyard drop to a mere 80 to 90 per hectare.
Tell us more about your new packaging the what it represents for the prosecco superior category?
The new packaging aims at strongly underling the link between Bisol and Valdobbiadene, the heart of Prosecco Superiore DOCG production. Above all the logo has changed: we decided to highlight the date 1542, the year in which a historical document plays testimony to the presence of the Bisol family as viticulturists in the Valdobbiadene area. We then highlight the links to the land through the Valdobbiadene marking and the depiction of a steep hill ideally bringing the Cartizze hill to mind. The new image also has a distinctive color, “Bisol green”. A touch of green that harks back to the luxurious landscape cultivated with vines that for centuries has so distinguished the hills of Valdobbiadene.
May 11, 2018