The home of rare wines
At the southernmost end of the Valbelluna, near the ancient town of Feltre, lies the De Bacco farm. This family-run operation focuses on bringing traditional indigenous grape varieties back to life. These varieties had long been forgotten about, but are now being grown again on the steep slopes of the small vineyards dotted around the feet of the Dolomites. Siblings Valentina and Marco De Bacco are the ambassadors of a movement to bring back traditional local winegrowing practices. This movement has been supported by the foundation of the Consorzio Coste del Feltrino (Feltre Hillsides Consortium). At the De Bacco winery, visitors can enjoy their Saca, Pavana and Gata, as well as Ico Brut Rosé, their traditional-method sparkling obtained from Pinot Nero grapes.
Following the Piave downstream, we arrive at Valdobbiadene, the beating heart of Italian sparkling wine production and home to the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG appellation. We continue our journey along the road winding between the spectacular Cartizze and Guia hills, beyond which stand the village of Farra di Soligo and the Marchiori winery. Their collection is the fruit of a major project aimed at representing the range of ways in which the land can express itself. Not only do we find the Glera Tonda grape, but also ancient varieties of Glera Lunga: Perera, Bianchetta and Verdiso. All their grapes are grown on the steep hillsides of the twelve-hectare farm parcelled up into a mosaic of vineyards. The result is a tailor-made Prosecco which offers a wealth of aromas, expressed in different ways in the 5 Varietà Integrale, 5 Varietà Rivelazione and 5 Varietà Brut.
Have you tried it with dregs?
We start off again in the direction of Susegana, destination Malibràn. Here stands an old yellow manor house with a red string-course, once the property of the Collalto nobles. Some of the surrounding vineyards offer views of the castle of San Salvatore. The Favrel family has long produced the traditional effervescent wine Col Fondo, (“with the dregs”) obtained by refermenting the wine in the bottle without pouring off the inactive yeasts which gather at the neck of the bottle. This is primordial Prosecco, from a time before autoclaves when effervescence was the result of a completely manual production method practised by countryfolk in this area. The taste is drier and more sapid, as can be noted in their Sottoriva Col Fondo Per Tradizione and Credamora, where the structure provided by the yeasts gives the wine substance and longevity. Also worth sampling is the Boschera, a rare little jewel obtained from the eponymous indigenous grape.
The sharecroppers’ house
Heading southwards and crossing the Piave, our next stop is at Case Paolin in Volpago del Montello. Access to the farm is by a small dirt track leading to an eighteenth-century farmhouse, tool shed, and former barn where the wine shop and wine aging rooms have been set up. All the buildings have been restored in keeping with their original style and that of the surrounding countryside: sharecroppers’dwellings. The Pozzobon family purchased the property in the late 1970s and the Rosso del Milio, a classic Bordeaux blend obtained from grapes grown on the Montello hills, is dedicated to Emilio, the winery founder. The profound and luxurious San Carlo, the winery’s top product, is only produced when the harvest is just right. Their Asolo Prosecco Superiore is lively and has a lot of character.
A fairytale winery
Just a few minutes’ drive from the centre of Asolo is the Cirotto winery, where we’re welcomed in the visitors’area in the winemaking cellar. Visitors are given a taste of the ultra-fresh Asolo Prosecco Superiore Extra Brut, then the Costalunga Manzoni Bianco, a wine with great potential for evolution. The velvety bubbles in the Sogno, an undosed Traditional Method produced in limited quantities and left to rest on the yeasts in the underground cellar, also come from the Manzoni Bianco grape used as a standalone.