Bring on the Bubbly: Case Coste Piane Prosecco "Sur Lie"

I guarantee Case Coste Piano Prosecco di Valdobbiadene “Sur Lie” DOCG is not like any Prosecco you’ve ever seen or tasted before.

Cloudy in the glass.
Delicate aromas.
Crisp with Minerality.
Lightly Structured and, yet, complex.

I first tasted Case Coste Piane Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Sur Lie DOCG some years ago at Il Silene in Tuscany and became an immediate fan.

In part, the magic of Case Coste Piane Prosecco relates to the fact that the second fermentation occurs in the bottle (as it does in the production of Champagne).

Unlike Champagne producers, the Folladors follow the ancestral way of making sparkling wine with Prosecco grapes in the Veneto: without “degorgement” (French way of removing the spent yeasts from the bottle). Instead, the spent yeasts are left in the bottle as Adelchi Follador explains here. (The French expression for wine left on spent yeasts is “sur lie”).


For subtitles in English, click on CC.

The deeper secrets behind the magic of Case Coste Piane Prosecco relate to the fact that Loris Follador, who has owned Case Coste Piane since 1994, and his sons, Adelchi and Raffaele, who now work with him, consider themselves first “stewards of the land”, then, winemakers. And the land where they grown their Prosecco grapes in the heart of Valdobbiandene-Conigliano DOC/DOCG classification area is very particular.

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All of the various Follador vineyards (totally six hectares or about 12 acres) are high above the valley. Years ago, only vegetables were grown at lower elevations, but in the seventies, local coops began paying farmers for Prosecco grapes in bulk to make vast quantities of inexpensive sparkling wine (sometimes sweet) using the Charmat Method (second fermentation in covered, pressurized vats).

Prosecco (Glera) grapes have a natural tendency to overproduce (meaning lots of grapes without much taste), and this tendency was aided by large amounts of chemical fertilizers. Lower, flatter vineyards also made mechanization possible.

But there were families who resisted all of these trends with a vengeance and stayed with the ancestral methods of grape growing and wine making.

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This photo barely gives a sense of how steep the Follador vineyards are. They are not terraced; the plants between the vines hold the thin layer of topsoil covering the compacted clay-limestone below.

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From a distance, the underlying soil looks like solid rock.

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But over the years, the roots of the old Follador vines have penetrated deep in this unusual soil, giving the wine its distinctive, crisp, mineral flavor.

The Follador vines are mostly between 50 and 120 years old. This is one of the oldest.
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The vineyards are spread around in different locations, always facing south and always in somewhat remote and wild places. A hint of this wildness comes through in the wine.
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Case Coste Piane Prosecco di Valdobbiadene “Sur Lie” DOCG (with a cork) or DOC (with a bottle top) can usually be found in the US through Wine Searcher and generally and sells for about $25 a bottle.
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NB: Because of the holiday, this Prosecco seems largely sold out. More info on sparkling wine for New Year’s coming up in tomorrow’s post.

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