There is Prosecco, and then there is Prosecco DOCG. Prosecco is made in the Veneto region in northeast Italy. Prosecco DOCG comes from two specific areas within the Veneto region – Conegliano Valdobbiadene and Asolo. It is likely that you have heard of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG, but have you heard of Asolo Prosecco DOCG?
Located in Treviso, Asolo is located between Venice and the Dolomites. It is west of Conegliano Valdobbiadene which sits across the Piave river. Asolo Prosecco DOCG encompasses eighteen municipalities surrounding the ancient village of Asolo. The charming town of Asolo, which sits on a hill, dates back to the Roman Empire. Over the centuries it drew the attention of the wealthy Venetians who built their summer houses in Asolo. Asolo was part of Venice until Napolean defeated Venice and then fell under Austrian rule for a century.
It is possible you have not heard of Asolo Prosecco DOCG…yet! Prosecco DOC produces 700 million bottles annually and Conegliano Valdobbiadene produces 100 million bottles per year. But Asolo only produces 24 million bottles per year, an increase from only three million bottles in 2014. Asolo is a small region but one worth knowing.
Asolo is a Cru of Prosecco. The region is biodiverse filled with hills and mountains, including Colli Asolani, Montello, Monte Grappa, and the Dolomites. The vineyards, which are planted on the hills, make up only 6% of the territory and forests cover 29% of the area. In Colli Asolani, the soils consist of white limestone, clay, fossils, and shells. In Montello, the soil is red clay. The climate in Asolo is continental with a Mediterranean influence. Cold winds blow south from the Alps and warm winds blow north from the Adriatic Sea.
The Asolo Consortium was born in 1985 and Asolo Prosecco received DOCG status in 2009. While Asolo Prosecco DOCG is small, it is actually the fourth largest Italian sparkling appellation, after Prosecco DOC, Asti, and Conegliano Valdobbiadene. There are 64 wineries, including three cooperatives. 60% of the wine produced in Asolo is exported to the United States.
The primary grape in Asolo, and for all Prosecco, is Glera. There are almost 5500 acres of Glera grapes grown in Asolo and no new plantings are allowed. But old varieties, such as Verdiso, Banchetta Trevigiana, Perera, and Glera Lunga are planted, as well as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. A maximum of 15% of these grapes is permitted to be added to Glera.
Styles of Asolo Prosecco DOCG
Asolo Prosecco DOCG is a Metodo Martinotti sparkling wine. Made from the Glera grape, the sparkling wine is made in the tank, not in the bottle like Champagne. Like most sparkling wines, Asolo Prosecco DOCG comes in a few different styles.
The majority of Asolo Prosecco DOCG produced (74%) is Extra Dry. Extra Dry has 12-17 grams per liter of residual sugar. Extra Dry has a sweetness but it is balanced by the acidity of the wine which typically has stone fruit aromas and a richness on the palate. Brut, which has less than 12 grams per liter of residual sugar, makes up 18% of the production. Brut wines exhibit stone fruit and citrus notes. Extra Brut has 6 grams or less of residual sugar resulting in a wine that is acid-driven and racy with citrus and mineral notes. Asolo was the first area in Prosecco to make Extra Brut in 2014. Dry is the sweetest style of Prosecco with 17-32 grams per liter of residual sugar. The bright acidity balances the sweetness of the Dry Prosecco which makes up only 2% of production. Sui Lieviti, which means on the yeasts, makes up only 1% of production in Asolo. For these wines, the second fermentation occurs inside the bottle rather than in the stainless-steel tank. The result is a dry wine (Brut Nature) that has not been disgorged and will have a cloudy color and yeasty notes.
Asolo Prosecco DOCG sparkling wines exude elegance with aromas of white blossom, pear, and crunchy apple with hints of herbs and minerality. Here are six producers to know and visit.
Dr. Ermenegildo Giusti, the son of a farmer, spent 50 years living in Canada and working in construction in oil and gas. With a fond memory of the bees that would buzz during harvest, he recalled his childhood in Asolo. Feeling a pullback to Asolo, he started investing in redevelopments in Asolo in 1998 and purchased his first two hectares in 2004. He planted his vineyard in 2006 and today has 100 hectares across ten estates. He is the largest landowner in the area, and farms with no sprays and no chemicals. And he has 30 hectares of fungal-resistant hybrid vines that are 99% vitis vinifera. He also has vineyards in Valpolicella.
Giusti is a modern five-story winery with most floors underground for gravity flow. The winemaker is Graziana Grassini who was formerly at Sassicaia in Tuscany. Giusti is always looking to push the boundaries to make the best glass of wine. The Giusti Asolo Prosecco DOCG wines, from Extra Brut to Brut to Extra Dry, are clean and fresh with minerality. He also has an indigenous grape called Recantina, as well as Merlot, Sagrantino, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay.
In addition to visiting the winery, Giusti offers eno-tourism with a Bed & Breakfast and restaurant. And Dr. Giusti is in the process of restoring the old abbey on his property.
Tenuta Baron is in Fonte in the province of Treviso. The property, which is ten hectares, dates to 1600 and was the royal residence of the King of Italy, Vittoria Emanuele II. Domenico “Nico” Baron purchased the property in the 1970s, restoring the buildings, old vineyard, and park. In 2011, Nico’s son Giacomo Baron and his friend Andrea Sbrissa started the winery while they were students in Milano.
In addition to five hectares of vineyard at the estate, they own other vineyards for a total of 16 hectares which they farm sustainably, using no herbicides. They make some still wines, but most of their production is sparkling wine. Their Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut and Extra Dry are delicate and fresh with floral notes. And their wine labels, which were designed by Andrea who has a degree in industrial design, are minimalist.
Tenuta Baron offers guests the opportunity to visit their property to taste the wines, as well as to walk in the vineyard and the park filled with ancient trees.
Villa Sandi are pioneers in the exportation of Prosecco. The Moretti Polegato family has a long-standing wine-making tradition handed down from father to son. Mario Polegato bought the first vineyards in the 1920s. His son Divo and his wife Amalia Moretti ran the business after World War II, and later Amalia ran it with her sons Mario and Giancarlo. In the 1970s, they purchased and restored Villa Sandi, a Palladian-style building dating back to 1622, located in Asolo.
The Villa Sandi winery was started in the 1980s and today has vineyards in all of the Prosecco appellations. They have vineyards in the flats of Prosecco, the hills of Valdobbiadene, the top of Cartizze, and Asolo. In Asolo, they have 100 hectares from which they produce sparkling wines with characters that are food-friendly.
Villa Sandi and its centuries-old underground cellars are a must-see destination for fans of art, history, territory, and wines. Across the river in Valdobbiadene, Villa Sandi offers Locanda Sandi, a renovated farmhouse, which has 6 guest rooms and a restaurant featuring local traditional dishes.
Located in Venegazzù, in the western part of Montello, Lorenzo Palla is the owner of Loredan Gasparini Winery. The name Venegazzù comes from the Latin word Vinea (or vine) and the Greek word “gaza”, which means abundance. The winery was first established by Count Piero Loredan Gasparini who brought Bordeaux varieties to the region in the 1940s and produced the first Bordeaux blend in Italy in 1951.
Giancarlo Balla purchased the property in 1972 and added the white grape varieties Glera, Manzoni Bianco, and Chardonnay. Giancarlo Balla was one of the first to produce Prosecco and was a leader in the creation of the Prosecco DOC and Asolo Prosecco DOCG. And, due to the unique microclimate of Venegazzù, Palla sought recognition for the area as the only subzone of the Asolo DOCG today. The Palla family has 60 hectares today, split evenly between red and white grapes.
In 1979, Giancarlo Palla released his first bottle of Glera made in the traditional method. He made a Brut style, believing that Asolo should be rich in the mouth but does not need added sugar. His son Lorenzo found that with a vineyard that produces great acidity, he could make an Extra Dry Prosecco that has beautiful richness and no sugar residue on the palate despite having 20 grams of sugar.
A visit to Loredan Gasparini Winery offers visitors a chance to walk through the vineyards and taste the wines and other products they make.
Located in Monte Fumo, one of three municipalities in the heart of the Asolo Hills, Tenuta Amadio Winery is an environmentally sustainable winery. The Amadio Rech family, who grew grapes, as well as indigenous apples, has owned the estate since 1850. After years of production, the estate was abandoned but owner Simone Rech and his wife Silvia brought the property back to life.
The estate, which is located at an elevation of 700 feet, is 20 hectares of land, 12 of which are planted in vineyards. The winery is built into a hill and the roof of the winery is a patch of grass that one can stand on and look out at the valley. The grass roof retains water, which is reused, making Tenuta Amadio almost water-independent. They are solar energy independent. The Tenuta Amadio Asolo Proseccos, from Extra Brut and Brut to Extra Dry and Dry are all elegant with vibrant acidity.
A visit to Tenuta Amadio includes a visit to the vineyards and the cellar, as well as a tasting of their wines and other typical local products.
The vineyard of Asolo Manor Winery was abandoned for thirty years until ten years ago when three crazy friends had a vision. Walter, Ruggiero, and Giuseppe planted Glera on a hill that is also home to 25 200-year-old olive trees that stand 300 meters high. The steep hill was excavated to create a vineyard and today they have 2.6 hectares of grapes. This protected area has never been touched by any chemicals and the vineyard is organically certified.
Asolo Manor made their first vintage of Prosecco in 2016. They do everything by hand and make two styles of Prosecco. Figlio Della Rocca, which means Son of the Rock, is a Brut Asolo Prosecco and Figlio Della Rocca Sui Lieviti is a Prosecco that finishes fermentation in the bottle. Both wines have lovely floral freshness and elegance.
Asolo Manor Winery is a small winery located on a steep hill. On this hill is a renovated house that is available for rent. Tastings can be arranged by appointment only.
Prosecco is a large area and Asolo Prosecco DOCG is a small part of the Prosecco region. But the wines have body and texture with notes of minerality and salinity. They are distinct and should be discovered.
Allison Levine is the owner of Please The Palate, a boutique agency specializing in marketing and event planning for the wine and spirits industry. With over 15 years of experience in communications, marketing, and event planning, Allison is passionate about the world around her and the diverse people in it. Allison is a freelance writer and contributes to numerous publications, as well as her blog at www.pleasethepalate.com. She is the host of the podcast WineSoundtrack USA where she interviews winemakers and winery owners who share their stories, insights, and some humorous anecdotes. She also co-hosts a wine video series on YouTube called Crush On This. Allison holds a master’s degree in International Communications with a focus on cross-cultural training from the American University School of International Service. She also holds a WSET Level 3 Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) and is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers.