Earlier this year, leading UK wine educator Janina Doyle featured Villa Sandi international export director Flavio Geretto on her popular podcast and blog, Eat Sleep Wine Repeat.
The following are some of the highlights from their wonderful chat. You can listen to the episode in its entirety here (and you can also download a transcript). The interview has been abbreviated here for clarity.
JD: One of the most amazing things about you guys, Villa Sandi, is that you don’t actually bottle everything straight after harvest, you produce to order effectively. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?
FG: Every grape, every wine has its own identity. The identity of Prosecco, when you have a quality Prosecco, the freshness must be the distinctive element. So we need to preserve this freshness, our stock is as fresh as possible, because when the wine is fresher, you can perceive all the most important characteristic of the parts. So we decide to use this method to chill the must after the pressing. It means that when the skins are pressed, it is only a soft pressing. We have a machine that puts the temperature from 15-18 degree that is the harvest temperature, to zero degree in half an hour so in this way it can fill a lot of tanks of grape juice.
JD: Right so no fermentation at all.
FG: The very good news is that we have a wine that is fresh every time we produce the wine. The wine is always fresh like if we started production after the harvest. In this way we could maintain the most important characteristic of the Prosecco. That is the freshness.
[ON PROSECCO ROSÉ]
FG: Prosecco rosé DOC now is on fire. It is made with glera that is the grape of Prosecco, with a quantity of a Pinot Noir that must be produced inside the Prosecco region from 10 to 15%. So it means that the Glera can be from 85 to 90% and the Pinot Noir inside from 15 to 10%. It was the first choice like Prosecco rosé in Selfridges.
JD: What would you like to pair with this specific wine?
FG: Very good like an apéritif, tempura, Thai cuisine, or with the Chinese cuisine. Sashimi is perfect.
[ON THE COLOR OF PROSECCO ROSÉ]
FG: It is the protocol that give us are the guidelines. You can’t produce a pink color Prosecco. The color of
Prosecco is of this nuance because it is the protocol that decided that what it must be. [Here in Valdobbiadene,] we can say the color of the Prosecco DOC rosé.
JD: And also Prosecco rosé needs to be aged a little bit longer right before being released like 60 days, minimum 60 days.
FG: Yes 60 days. And normally, the prosecco takes a minimum one month, but I can tell you that for Villa Sandi, there is no chance because we used to produce our Prosecco with the minimum 75 days of fermentation in tank and for the DOCG and Cartizze we can arrive also more than three months, three months and a half.
JD: Perhaps you can explain a little bit more for someone who maybe doesn’t understand the the hierarchy of Prosecco.
FG: The Prosecco territory is very wide because it is around 33,000 hectares. And it covers two regions of Italy, the regions of the northeast of Italy. We are speaking about Veneto and Friuli region, okay. And Veneto is the region where the capital city is Venice. So if you have the idea of the boot that is Italy, in the northeast, there the Arctic sea, you have Venice, so the region of Prosecco goes from that area. Inside this area, we have a province, the province of Treviso, okay. That is around 50 km northwest from Venice and in this province is the very original production area of Prosecco. It is where Villa Sandi, that is in Crocetta del Montello, has our headquarters.
And inside the province of Treviso, if you produce the DOC you can write in the wine Treviso DOC because a winery and grapes come from this subzone, but the good thing is that inside this province Treviso, we have also the two DOCG areas that are Valdobbiadene Conegliano or simply Valdobbiadene and Asolo. So the difference if you have the label in front of you. It is very important because in Prosecco if you can read very well the label that you can understand immediately the difference because the DOCG area both Asolo and Valdobbiadene, we can say that Valdobbiadene is the capital city of Prosecco. It is not very easy to pronounce because of Valdobbiadene, many times in the UK people say Valdobbiadene but it is the town where there is the best expression of the Prosecco and I can tell you that in terms of extension, the Valdobbiadene Conegliano DOCG is around 8,000 hectares. Asolo is around 1,800 hectares.
If you consider the DOC Valdobbiadene and Asolo are very small, the production is lower, because in the DOC you can have normally 18 tonnes per hectare, in the two DOCG you can have 13.5 tonnes per hectare of production. And the difference that a consumer can perceive immediately is that if you have a DOCG wine, it means in the label the word Prosecco will be always followed by the name Superiore, because if a prosecco is a DOCG is superior.
JD: I hadn’t realized that the imprint of Villa Sandi on the the DOCG bottles.
FG: Our claim is “Villa Sandi, the iconic premium Prosecco,” because it was something that we would like to do in order to give evidence that we are in the premium category because you know, Prosecco is very big, like a name but it is overcrowded like a category. So you need to stand out from a crowd and to make people to understand that they are drinking something very different.