The Wine of the Week
by Annette Tomei
2011 Ca’ dei Zago Col Fondo, Prosecco DOC, Veneto, Italy
Ca’ dei Zago is a biodynamic producer in the Valdobbiadene region of the Veneto. Their Prosecco is produced using an old, rarely used regional method called col fondo, which translates to “on the lees”. It begins with a single fermentation in concrete tanks, and is finished in the bottle with a crown cap closure to contain the pressure; the resulting sediment remains in the bottle and becomes and integral part of the evolution of the unique flavor of the wine (similar to bottle conditioned beers).
Bottles are typically stored standing up, versus on their sides. This allows the yeasty sediment to sink to the bottom. The first few glasses are bright and clear, but as you get closer to the bottom of the bottle, the lees begin to mix in and the wine is cloudy, but the flavor becomes richer and more substantial. These last couple of tastes are something to look forward to – with dinner, the wine becomes more substantial as the meal does – a bonus!
For those who think of Prosecco as sweet, simple bubbles that are best with a bit of peach puree or orange juice, this week’s wine is a game changer. This is not a typical Prosecco, if indeed there is such a thing. There may be a hint of the familiar aromas of Prosecco – white flowers and honeydew melon – but then there’s something deeper, lustier – Earthy black pepper? The first sip brought the sensation of biting into a crisp aromatic heirloom apple (not the grocery store variety – something organic and gnarly), then green almonds. The finish is bone dry and minerally, leaving you ready for another sip. This is not mimosa wine… this is an aperitivo, a clean, almost-savory start to a meal. I’m sure it is lovely with prosciutto wrapped melon or other delicate antipasti, but it is also a delightful summer refresher all by itself.
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