DiscoverMeet the Winemakers

La Dolce Vita

by Lucinda Beeman - January 24, 2017

After almost a decade of producing quality Prosecco, it’s finally Riondo’s time to shine. Go behind the scenes of their Italian winery to see how the glorious Green Label Prosecco Spago Nero in this month’s Bubble Box is made.

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Riondo Prosecco 750x500

When winemaker Giorgio Marchiotto joined Riondo in 2008, it was a fledgling Prosecco producer just getting off the ground. For Giorgio, it was a good fit: with just five years’ experience as a winemaker, he himself was a young upstart eager to make his mark on the world of Italian wine.

But Giorgio wasn’t just a chancer who happened to score the role of a lifetime. Far from it, in fact: the nephew of wine growers, his interest in and inclination for winemaking and viticulture took root early and deep. He was fascinated by his family’s passion for their vineyards, and completed a degree in oenology and viticulture at the Università degli Studi di Veronia.

And he had something else, which no degree or family connections could have given him: a remarkable, instinctive insight into flavour profiles and a flair for making amazing sparkling wines. So when he got the job at Prosecco specialist Riondo, it was a match made in fizzy heaven.

Prosecco Power

Glera grapes 750x500

These days, Riondo reigns as one of the most important Prosecco producers in the Veneto region of northern Italy. With a full portfolio of fabulous wines on offer, the Prosecco boom in the UK has finally brought their brand into focus.

As Giorgio says: “The success of Prosecco has shone the spotlight on Riondo, as we’re one of the most important producers. This has given us the opportunity to emerge and show off the quality of our other award-winning still wines – and our other sparkling wines, too!”

The Green Label Spago Nero in particular has been a big success for Riondo. A deliciously light and fruity wine, this is a classic Prosecco through and through, with one key difference: it’s frizzante, which means that it’s only gently sparkling.

As Giorgio explains: “We decided to make a Prosecco frizzante as a tribute to the tradition and to the old times, when Prosecco used to be less sparkling than it is now, and sold with a tight twine to hold the cork.”

Drinking this tasty Prosecco – which should be drunk very cold, and pairs well with everything from smoked salmon to spicy curries – is a wonderful way to transport yourself away from the January cold and into the green and golden fields of the beautiful Prosecco region. And at just 10% ABV, you can drink a bit more than usual before you need to worry about the morning after the night before.

So how is this wine, with its pleasantly gentle mousse, made?

Fields of Green

 

Like many Prosecco producers, the winemakers at Riondo rely on more than 2,000 associated farmers to grow their grapes across three notable Northern Italian regions: Prosecco, Soave and Valpolicella.

Not all of these grapes are destined to become fizz. In fact, Riondo’s parent company also produces red and white still wines under different brand names: Lunardi, known for its clean, fresh varietal characteristics, and complex Castelforte wines.

But Riondi’s Spago Nero Prosecco is DOC, which means that the Glera grapes that go into it are guaranteed by the Italian government to come from the Prosecco region, and its production is guided by a series of strict rules to guarantee quality.

Once the grapes are hand-picked and collected from the associated farmers, they’re pressed in a lung press. This very gentle process removes the juice, which is fermented in a temperature-controlled stainless steel tank, specially designed to retain the grapes’ unique aroma.

All Proseccos are made using the Charmat, or tank method, so the base wine goes into another large tank for its second round of fermentation. It’s this round that will result in the gentle bubbles, so the winemaker looks for the pressure inside the tank to reach 2.5 bars – less than half the five to six bars of pressure in a normal sparkling wine, or spumante – before decanting the now fizzy liquid into a bottle and corking it.

The extra sugar in this particular bottle of fizz means that it’s especially round when served cold, and therefore delicious as an aperitif. But this is a very versatile wine, and can also be drunk with everything from rice and vegetable-based dishes to aromatic Asian cuisine. However you choose to enjoy it, this gentle wine will brighten up winter with the aromas of an Italian summer.

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