Fun, fresh and fruity – can a fizz be all of the above and still good for the environment? The answer is a resounding yes, and you need look no further than the wonderful wines of Raphael Dal Bo.
Raphael Dal Bo grew up surrounded – quite literally – by beautiful bottles of Prosecco. He calls the town of Conegliano home. At the centre of the highly lauded Prosecco DOCG region, it’s where the world’s finest wines of this style are made.
With such an upbringing, it was only natural for Raphael to go into the winemaking business. In 1999 he teamed up with cellar master Guiseppe Geranazzo to found his eponymous winery. But while both men are passionate about the rich heritage of Prosecco production, one thing sets many of his beautiful bottles apart from the others: they’re sustainable and organic.
Grapes of Wonder
These days, we’re well used to being able to get hold of a wide range of organically grown food – indeed it’s come to be seen as almost commonplace. But not in the wine world; just eight per cent of the vineyard surface in Europe is certified organic.
So what does it mean to produce an organic wine, and why are so few vineyards going green?
To be qualified as an organic vineyard, you must agree to four main aims: to co-exist with natural systems in your region; sustain and build soil fertility; minimise damage to the environment; and use as many renewable resources as possible.
The goal is to cultivate grapes while maintaining a fully functioning ecosystem of other plants, insects and even small animals.
As Steve Hodden of the Prosecco Agency, which works closely with Raphael and Guiseppe, explains: “Organic is an extension of real winemaking: to produce a product that is as close to nature as possible.”
But, while organic production methods are better for the planet, it’s a much more difficult process for the winemaker.
Steve says: “In producing organic wine, the winemaker has nowhere to hide – there’s less opportunity for intervention. This is where true skill and knowledge comes to the table, because you have less protection in the vineyard and more vulnerability in the winery.”
Organic grape vines can be difficult to grow, and will often produce less fruit. That leaves very little room for error where growing, harvesting and winemaking are concerned. But, as Steve points out, the risks are more than worth it.
The fruit of organic grapes tend to hang lower, have a firmer skin (which keeps them healthy) and develop more complex and delicate flavours. The result? Better wine, once winemakers get the hang of it.
Steve continues, “At first the vines struggle, but once organic procedures have set in, the fruit you get is much more complex and delicate, and with such fruit comes more interesting wines. With greater risk comes great rewards for both wine and nature.”
Raphael’s organic Proseccos have been so successful that he’s looking to double his production over the coming years. It’s great news for the region, the planet, and any fan of high quality Prosecco.
High quality is precisely the phrase to describe the fabulous bottle of fizz in November’s Bubble Box.
Steve says, “Prosecco is three things at its core: fun, fresh and fruity. A lot of high level Prosecco tends to be made too seriously, and in this it loses its soul. But this bottle takes it right to the limit of what a true Prosecco can be, with real complexity and a superior mouthfeel. Watch out for the lemon sherbet twist right at the end!”
Made using Glera grapes – the traditional Prosecco grape – it’s a lively wine with a pleasantly dry palate and a nose rich with peach blossom. This is a great bottle to share with friends and family. “Prosecco is fun,” Steve says, “and enjoyment increases when it’s complimented by the other fun things in life.”
A wonderful aperitif, it’s also dynamite when paired with one food you might not expect: spiced hummus. Steve explains: “It’s wonderful – the slight sweetness of extra dry Prosecco alongside light fragrant spices and the creaminess of the hummus, only to be washed away with fine, vibrant and smooth bubbles.”
In a world where wineries in the Prosecco region are trying desperately to keep up with demand – sometimes to the detriment of the wines – this bottle stands out as a paragon of quality over quantity. Lovingly crafted from grapes grown to the highest standards, it’s a vision of how good Prosecco can be.
“I hope that the trend for quality over quantity continues to grow,” Steve says. “I believe that quality can be tasted exceptionally clearly in this wine, and I look forward to seeing what Raphael and his team have in store for next year!”