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Bellenda Conegliano Valdobbiadene

I recently had a Zoom tasting with Bellenda 1986 owner, Umberto Cosmo. We were tasting some sparkling wines from the premium Prosecco region, Conegliano Valdobbiadene. Conegliano Valdobbiadene is located in a hilly area in northeastern Italy, just 30 miles from Venice and about 60 from the Dolomites. This area has been producing wines from the Glera grape for three centuries, Glera is the most important grape in Prosecco Superiore. The region’s production area includes 15 communes and represents the heart of Prosecco territory. The wines from this region are classified as a Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin (D.O.C.G.) which is the highest level of quality for Italian wines.

I recently visited the Asolo D.O.C.G. which is the only other region producing this higher level of Prosecco. Most of the Prosecco wines seen in the Houston area seem to be the less stringently regulated D.O.C. classification. You can read more in this blog about Asolo Prosecco here.

Conegliano Valdobbiadene’s location between the sea and the Pre-Alps helps it to maintain its mild climate, with an average temperature during the year of  55°F with steady breezes, which allow the grapes to dry quickly after rainfall. The hills stretch from east to west, they have a south-facing slope where the vineyards sit with excellent exposure to sunshine while the northern slopes are typically woodland which keeps the area more biodiverse. The altitude of the vineyards range from 900 and 1600 feet. The diurnal swing helps to develop aromas and maintain natural acidity. 

The Glera grape variety has found an ideal environment in these hills. The soils of Conegliano Valdobbiadene derive from ancient sea and lake beds and glacier movement. The glacier derived soils are deep, some composed of conglomerates of rock and sand with clay with some areas rich in iron oxide while others are composed of the less deep marine origin soils of marl and sandstone The different combinations of slope, exposure and soils make each micro-zone in the region unique.

At Bellenda, the business is a family affair with Umberto’s brother working as head winemaker and other members of the next generation also involved. Their total production is 8,000,000 cases which translates to about 100 million bottles, of which about 30,000 cases are D.O.C.G.. The winery has over 85 acres which are bottled under the Bellenda label. The D.O.C. wines are sourced from a few select growers. The vineyards are farmed with an eye to protecting biodiversity, following practices such as not mowing the grass between and under the vines.

The Tasting

My tasting notes were written during the Zoom meeting but as I had only poured small tastes, most were served at Thanksgiving two days after. All the wines were still in good condition and still very effervescent.

San Fermo Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Brut 2022 - The San Fermo name comes from the church that sits next to the vineyard in the Conegliano hills. It undergoes fermentation in a steel tank before bottling. Umberto shared that this wine evolves to express the morainic soils on which the grapes grow with notes of saffron and petrol over time, at our tasting it was very fresh, lively, and mineral driven. Umberto stated that he likes it as an aperitif with salami and cheese or with risotto or roast chicken. I greeted my guests upon arrival with small pours and everyone wanted more which, unfortunately, I did not have. 

Sie Uno Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Extra Brut Rive di Carpesica 2020 - This classic method sparkler is fresh, crisp, and elegant with notes of apple, melon, bergamot, and mint with a touch of hazelnut in the lingering finish. Enjoy it with vegetable antipasti or seafood. The term “Rive” indicates the slopes of the steep hills that are characteristic of the zone. This category of wine highlights the diverse expressions of Conegliano Valdobbiadene. Rive wines are often obtained from the most precipitous, high-quality vineyards, from grapes grown in a single commune or area, showcasing the characteristics that a particular terroir gives to the wine. Within the denomination there are 43 Rive, and each one expresses a different and distinctive combination of soil, exposure and microclimate with reduced yields with the grapes picked exclusively by hand and the vintage always shown on the label. I was sipping on this during my dinner preparation so only a couple of early arrivers had the opportunity to taste this one.

Bellenda Prosecco DOC Rose - This pink crowd pleaser is made from Glera and Pinot Noir. The Glera sourced from the northernmost part of Treviso while the Pinot noir comes from vineyards with limestone soils. Full bodied, aromatic with notes of cherry, and fruit forward with a wild strawberry taste, this was also a hit with my Thanksgiving Day guests.

Con Alti - PetNat Colli Trevigiani IGT - This unfiltered wine with its cloudy look was a bit more polarizing. The younger guests were delighted to try it and seemed to enjoy it more than my older guests. Made from a field blend of grapes including Glera, Marzemino Bianca, Vertizzo, and Boschero to name a few, this wine displayed a flinty nose and a dry, yeasty, citrus finish.

All the wines are recommended.


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