Luca Ferraro is happiest pouring his Colfòndo Prosecco. He grows his grapes organically on the steep slopes near Asolo, 20 minutes down the road from the better known town of Valdobbiadene.
“Colfòndo” is the Italian way of saying “Sur Lies” (French) or “On the Spent Yeasts” (English). Last year I wrote in depth about Bele Casel, its wines and its history.
Colfondò is made according to the traditional method: Prosecco grapes ferment into wine; the wine is bottled a year later with a small amount of new must from the new vintage; and a second fermentation occurs in the bottle (as with champagne).
The difference is that instead of uncorking the bottle to take out the spent yeasts, Luca leaves the yeasts in the bottle.
He turns the bottle upside down to mix the yeasts into the wine before uncorking.
The result is a wine that is cloudy but full of delicate flavors. No “dosage” or sweetness is added, leaving the wine very dry.
Luca’s sister, Paola, who works closely with him and his father, Ilario, took me up to the vineyard I saw last year.
We found a few scattered bunches of grapes that had been missed during the harvest.
Paola showed me the new vines, planted by hand in the torrid heat of July. Each wooden pole had to be sunk deep into the soil using an old-fashioned digger. No machines work on this wildly steep slope.
Even though the vineyard is predominantly Prosecco grapes, Luca has mixed in other old, native varieties (Rabbiosa, Bianchetta, Marzemina Bianca…) in the way that the contadini (farmers) have traditionally done and in the way that his old vineyards are planted. Having biodiversity in the vineyard keeps the vines healthier, more resistant to disease, and also adds interest to the wine.
One day, those tiny vines will become bushy like these that are more than twenty years old.
They cling to the east facing hillside in this pristine valley. Paola underlined that their vines (as opposed to their neighbors’ across the valley) get only morning sun. The grapes ripen without getting burned or overripe.
When we returned to the cellar, we found Luca working with one of his sons following behind.
We sat outside to taste Colfòndo as well as Bele Casel Extra Brut and Brut. “Colfòndo is what we drink every day with our meals,” Luca said. “It is delicate, but it pairs very well with almost any food.” It is definitely more than a wine for aperitivo.
Many people are still accustomed, however, to the look and taste of an Extra Dry or Brut. Bele Casel’s are clean and elegant.
All come from grapes grown in this limestone, clay soil. It gives the wine distinctive minerality (crispness).
As I left, I saw boxes of Colfòndo packed and ready for shipping.
Via Moresca, 136
31031 Caerano San Marco – TV
Phone: +39 0423 859795
Cellphone: +39 393 9993614
To buy these wines in the US:
Contact Jeremy Parzen, who will source Bele Casel wines anywhere in the US.
Or use Wine Searcher. All Bele Casel wines sell for around $15.
Luca is a member and leader in FIVI, the The Italian Federation of Independent Winegrowers (Federazione di Vigaioli Indipendenti). To learn more about the organization, click here.