When we were learning about Prosecco at the Italian Wine Tales event in March, we had the good fortune to meet David Noto, the owner of Altaneve / Vico Neve LLC, one of the producers in the prestigious Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG region of Italy. As we recently reported, this small area north of Venice produces the highest quality grapes and wines in the entire Prosecco region. The Glera grape varietal (from with all Prosecco wines are made) is harvested by hand from small vineyards, today. Mr. Noto’s Altaneve is an incredibly fine example of what this region can produce.
As we mentioned in the Advice Sisters’ April 2014 article, (A Tale of Processo), wines from the Conegliano Valrobbiadene DOCG are labeled as such and carry a reputation for both quality and complexity. This is because the region has a more mineral soil than much of Prosecco, from which the grapes pick up a complexity. Generally one expects a Prosecco to have a floral note with rose or jasmine notes, and a tropical fruity taste with a lot of peach and banana. But wines from this small region can differ significantly and can sometimes have a taste profile much like fine champagnes. With weddings, graduations and Summer entertaining opportunities coming up, sparkling wines are a perfect option for a celebratory wine that is also just lovely for every day enjoyment.
Altaneve is this type of wine although on the high end of the prosecco spectrum in terms of quality and price. The color is a light golden hue, and the nose with notes of citrus and orange zest as the wine warmed in the glass. There was a hint of Asian pear as well. The wine itself was very light with a soft creamy mousse and a Champane-like taste profile with just a slight hint of citrus. The predominant notes were earthy and yeasty giving the wine a distinct and somewhat complex character, but the glera grapes did show through as there were light tones of granny smith apple and peach. As the wine warmed in the glass there was some buttery-ness on the finish.
We had the wine with a light citrus-y fish dinner and found that it paired very nicely. The wine was light and elegant and the lack of heaviness helped promote the taste of the food. Also there was just enough acid and minerality to help it hold its own against stronger dishes like salmon or shellfish.
Translated in Italian as “high snow,” Altaneve alludes to the Dolomite Mountains’ temperate micro climate that lends a special character to the grapes that make the wine unique. The wine comes from Valdobbiadene, the Italian town reputed for producing the highest quality of sparkling wine.
Altaneve is a Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. wine, and has a character that comes from the small vineyards and steep terrain that allow the winemaker to maximize the ripeness of the grapes by picking from different areas of the vineyard over a long period of time, but what is really important is how the wine is made, stored and consumed. Unlike many small producers, the winemaking process at Altaneve is designed to guarantee consistent taste and composition. The suggested retail price of Altaneve ($29.00) is higher than most Prosecco sold in the U.S., but it reflects its higher quality.
According to Mr. Noto, “Everything about our wine costs more to make than other, lesser expensive Proseccos on the market in the U.S., starting with the maintenance of our vines that are located on the steep hills of Valdobbiadene in Italy, to the hand-picking and hand-selection of the grapes that are harvested over the course of a month as they reach their perfect ripeness, to the very extended secondary fermentation that occupies our tanks for 2-5 times as long as other wines.”
Mr. Noto’s passion for Prosecco originated in his childhood. He comes from a wine-making family, boasting over 10 generations of wine makers in Calabria. Although the family produced red wines, Mr. Noto was always fascinated with Prosecco and the magic of its bubbles, and when he had the opportunity to pursue his winemaking passion, he decided to introduce the US market to the best Italian Prosecco that he could make.
Since the American market is not deeply familiar with the broad range of Prosecco, Mr. Noto felt it was time to introduce the U.S. to a brand of Prosecco designed to meet its preferred taste profile. Altaneve exemplifies the highest quality in every sense, from the quality of the grapes to the extended fermentation process that helps to produce the driest of the extra dry spumante that showcases the minerality, and floral bouquet for the crisp, clean, sparkling, elegant experience.
One of the best aspects of Prosecco in general, is the versatility in pairing it with foods. The wine can be paired with charcuterie and cheeses as well as with vegetables and seafood. Even foods that are at opposite ends of the spectrum like white meats and desserts go well with Prosecco, and with Altaneve in particular. This is due to several factors – The light sweetness of the wine, the hint of minerality and the balanced acidity help the palate absorb oils, fats and salts in foods, and this helps amplify the great qualities and tastes of many dishes. Of course, you can just drink it “as-is” of if you wish. Traditionalists, may frown, but if you wish, add a berry (or slice of fruit) in the glass on a hot Summer day and toast your joy!
Most events we attend serve sparkling wines such as Prosecco in tulip champagne glasses, but Mr. Noto suggests that Prosecco be served chilled, in a white or red wine glass that has a large bowl and a smaller diameter opening. This is because the best Proseccos have a lovely and delicate nose. The larger bowl and smaller opening of a white or red wine glass allow the scents and essence of the wine to accumulate as the bubbles rise to the surface of the wine. When you serve your sparkling wine, show your wine savvy and serve it properly. This is how you can truly appreciate a great Prosecco!
**Thanks to John Dunham, The Advice Sisters’ wine enthusiast, for this report.