Touring the Prosecco DOCG, Valdobbiadene, with Nino Franco

Visiting Nino Franco

As some of you know, I just returned from a press trip in Italy. I am still researching and tasting from the various regions. In the meantime, here are photos from the first two days of our visit. We began in Valdobbiadene, in the Treviso province of the Northeast.

Silvia at the top of Rive di San Floriano Vineyard

Silvia Franco at the top of the steep slope vineyard, Rive di San Floriano

The region surrounding Valdobbiadene falls within the highest quality area of Prosecco, which reaches to the town of Conegliano. The steep sloped hillsides rise prior to the Alps out of former-marine soils combining the cooling effects of the mountains, with chalky, crisp, mineral-driven soils.

looking into the town of Valdobbiadene

the town of Valdobbiadene

The region between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano is being considered for a World Heritage site designation. Known history of the region reaches back to the 11th century, and includes scientific work done by one of the first wine schools in the world, and commemoration in Renaissance paintings by artists Conegliano, and Bellini. One of the unique aspects of the area that qualifies it for consideration rests in its long standing relationship with viticulture. The region’s geography, both culturally and physically, so thoroughly intertwines with the vines that the shape of the area, and the persistence of the hillsides cannot be discussed without recognizing the role of Prosecco.

Tasting the Nino Franco Rustico

The Franco family have lived in the region for generations, with four generations now having operated their Nino Franco winery.

Annalisa and Silvia

Annalisa and Silvia Franco hosted us for lunch as a way of introducing us to their wines, and welcoming us to Italy. Then we toured the vineyards of the area.

Tasting the Primo Franco Prosecco

Giovanni Franco founded the winery in 1919 naming it after his son, Antonio (nicknamed Nino). At the time it was not possible to sustain a sparkling only operation, so the family sourced red grapes from neighboring areas to make still wines as well. Having been part of the family business since the 1970s, Primo Franco (Nino’s son) became the head of the company after his father’s death in the early 1980s. He chose to shift the focus away from still wines and begin the project of a sparkling only winery. In 1983 he completed his first example as head of Nino Franco, naming it the Primo Franco.

The Single Vineyard Prosecco, Grave di Stecco

Today, the family also makes single vineyard Proseccos showing the unique expressions of the hillsides through the area. The Grave di Stecca is one such example from the family’s own vineyard located in Valdobbiadene.

Over the hillsides of Valdobbiadene

The area of Cartizze, in the heart of the Valdobbiadene-Conegliano stretch is considered the premier of the region. The concentration of vines, and the intricate vineyard rows are stunning and begin to make sense of quality differences between the best of Prosecco, and the bulk versions of the valley floor. The mountains in the distance here also host vineyards just below the forest tops.

Over the hillsides of Valdobbiadene

Standing in a vineyard in Cartizze

Glera, the Prosecco grape

The glera grape has recently earned its name, having previously just been called prosecco. To distinguish the region from the fruit, the name Prosecco is now protected and isolated to the region in Italy. At its best, glera offers focused fruit flavors with a crisp edge to it.

Harvesting a terraced vineyard

standing in a terraced steep slope vineyard during harvest. Standing a terrace below, I am at least four feet below the harvester. Looking straight ahead I can only see her boots. (Thank you to Cathy for the photo suggestion.)

Cathy and Primo tank sampling first fermentation

Prosecco goes through two tank fermentations, with DOCG quality inspections at each stage. The first tank fermentation occurs immediately after harvest and produces the more austere still wine that will be the basis of the sparkling. Cathy and Primo as we tank sample the 2013 harvest of Rive di San Floriano.

Primo and Silvia tank sampling second fermentation

The still wines are brought with their lees to the secondary tanks where they will undergo secondary fermentation and be left on their lees the better portion of a year for aging. Lees contact and aging are a choice made at Nino Franco, and are not necessarily practiced by other wineries. Silvia and Primo help us tank sample the sparkling 2012 Grave di Stecca.

Aging Prosecco on lees

The single vineyard Grave di Stecca is aged in bottle before release.

Prosecco tasting

Tasting through the Nino Franco lineup, all sparkling. from left: Rustico (their “premium entry level”), the Valdobbiadene blend, the single vineyard 2012 Rive di San Floriano, the single vineyard 2010 Grave di Stecca, the Merlot-Cab Franc sparkling rosé (project they make with a red wine producing friend) 2011 Faive, the 2012 Primo Franco

Primo with his first bottle of Primo Franco

Primo standing with his first bottle of 1983 Primo Franco

The Franco family, Silvia, Primo, Annalisa

Silvia, Primo, and Annalisa Franco standing in Cartizze

***

To read more about Nino Franco, check out Alfonso Cevola’s post from a visit he made here: http://acevola.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-battle-for-prosecco.html

***

Thank you to Primo, Annalisa, and Silvia Franco.

Thank you to Megan Murphy, and Kanchan Kinkade.

Copyright 2013 all rights reserved. When sharing or forwarding, please attribute to WakawakaWineReviews.com


Comments

One Comment so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Thank you for this beautiful post. We are delighted to be included among the pages of Hawk Wakawaka Wine Reviews and we thank you for your visit.
    We have bottled some memories and hope you will enjoy them when you taste the 2013 vintage that you were part of.
    The Franco Family

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