Eons ago the river Piave carved an elegant escarpment from the limestone foothills of the Alps and the best Prosecco is cultivated on these steep, south-facing slopes. Unlike Champagne, Prosecco is fermented in a tank and was traditionally vinified leaving a hint of residual sugar. A century ago life here was hard; sparkling wine was a great luxury and sweet sparkling wine was the height of a fashion that was creeping slowly eastwards from Asti.
Tastes have changed but even today sugar levels regularly top 10 grams per litre. The majority of Prosecco sold is not of DOCG status and is produced from vineyards grown on the plains to the south. Paolo Zucchetto and his son, Carlo, a farm just 5.5 ha of vineyards (Prosecco is also the name of the grape) in the heart of the Valdobbiadene DOCG and also have holdings in the prestigious Cartizze zone. The Extra Dry is the sweeter of the two (we’re in Italy) but I prefer the Puro Fol sourced from a single vineyard and fermented almost to dryness. There’s an engaging nose of melon and quince and a sophisticated twist of austerity on the finish.