As I stand with a glass of Prosecco in one hand and delicious crostini in the other, looking out onto the hills of the Veneto region of Italy, I think to myself, does it get any better than this? I had been invited by luxury Prosecco brand, Bottega SpA to spend a few days in the region, living the Dolce Vita and discovering more about how Prosecco is made and most importantly how you should drink it and what food to pair it with.
Our trip started with the easy flight into Venice we arrived and were swiftly introduced to Irene, a fount of knowledge and our guide through the world of Prosecco for the next few days. Myself and the other writers on the trip packed into the car and soon it was off with the Italian countryside rolling passed the windows as we climbed up the hills of Valdobbiadene in the province of Treviso, the home of Prosecco…
Our first taste of the signature Bottega Gold was like nectar for us slightly weary travellers, pairing perfectly with the cured meats and bread which was also very welcomed by five hungry ladies. Fruity flavours of apple and pear were so perfect on the palate that it’s no wonder that this Prosecco has become so popular – sold in 132 countries in hotels, restaurants and bars and one of the most popular Proseccos in Duty Free shops.
I have been to wine tasting regions both in and out of Italy, but the landscape never fails to take my breath away. The perfect place and climate for the Glera grape that grows most abundantly in this region and the key to making Prosecco.
Our lunch would introduce us to the range and begin a lesson in discovering more about one of my favourite tipples. The starter, a delicious vegetable and cheese tart was paired with Bottega Vino dei Poeti Prosecco DOC, a deliciously dry and light wine. In Italy there are strict regulations applied to wine to make sure quality control and authenticity are adhered to.
Under these regulations Prosecco can only be produced in this particularly area with name itself deriving from the Italian village of Prosecco near Trieste where the wine orginates from. We learnt it’s important to know that there are two standards of Prosecco; Prosecco Superiore DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is the more common variety and the area where it is produced is slightly larger, less hilly and produced in nine provinces throughout the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions.
Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG (DOCG) is the higher status wine and can only be made in Treviso province of Veneto on the hills between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene. Strict rules govern DOCG wines regarding grape varieties, grape ripeness, winemaking process, and maturation so that they will always be of the highest quality. One thing I also hadn’t appreciated until now is that there are actually three types of Prosecco; spumante (sparkling wine), frizzante (semi-sparkling wine), or tranquillo (still wine).
Really good fresh pasta is one of my favourite reasons for coming to Italy (it’s all about the three P’s: prosecco, pizza and pasta!) and this Paccheri pasta was just divine. The sauce is actually made using herbs from the surrounding fields, so it’s fresh and local as can be. This course was paired with the Bottega Rose Gold, an absolutely gorgeous rosé with berry notes and a beautiful peach appearance.
Local cheeses were paired Bottega Valpolicella classico superiore, a fabulous red and an introduction to the house’s gorgeous still wines.
And dessert came paired with Bottega Vino Poeti Prosecco DOCG, one of the brands finer wines made with Glera vines from Hills of Valdobbiadene. There was also an opportunity to try some of the brands after dinner drinks, Liquore al Pistacchio and Liquore al Nero di Grappa. The latter being quite an acquired taste due to the high alcohol content.
More than satisfied after lunch, it was time to take a look at the DOCG hills, where that superior quality Prosecco is produced. It’s these steep hills with stony soils, and cool breezes off the Adriatic that provide a moderate climate that is perfect for growing the Glera grape. Only 25% of Prosecco wines are given DOCG status, so the standard is incredibly high and this historic area has actually been given UNESCO World Heritage Status, reflecting how important it is culturally.
We also paid a visit to 17th century Molinetto della Croda mill, a beautifully picturesque spot in the Lierza Valley in Refrontolo that remained in operation until the early 1900s but has since been renovated.
Which leads me to say a word about the Bottega Gold, Rose Gold and White Gold bottles. The stylish hand blown bottles have been made in the tradition of Italy’s fine Murano glassware and elevated with the gold, rose gold and white gold appearance. However the owners decided to make a sacrifice when choosing the bottles appearance, despite being of the highest quality the Bottega Gold can only be classified as DOC because under the guidelines an opaque bottle cannot be labelled DOCG. The argument is that the sacrifice is worth it as the bottle stands out so vibrantly on the shelves, and the majority of the markets would not understand the DOCG classification. The bottle is not just a pretty face however, it actually keeps the Prosecco fresher!
Next it was time for a rest as we drove to our home for the night, the beautiful CastelBrando, perched on the Treviso Hills. One of the oldest and largest castles in Europe, it is utterly spectacular.
A real life Medieval castle, CastelBrando has origins right back to the Roman age as a defensive fortress but in the 13th Century it was enlarged with a central tower and battlements. However, it was the purchase by the Brandolino family that really turned the castle into something utterly spectacular with an extension and a chapel. Nowadays it has been fully renovated and now is both a hotel and a museum.
Though I’ve stayed in castles before, I’ve never stayed somewhere that so typifies a castle. With battlements, turrets and towers, we truly felt like princesses, spending the night in a place like this.
After getting ready for dinner we headed for aperitivo in the bar, located right in cellar of the castle.
And as we snacked on some delicious nibbles and drank Prosecco, it was time for an important introduction. Sandro Bottega, joined us in the cellar bringing even more life to the party and more than a touch of Italian charm. Bottega was established in 1977 by Aldo Bottega, a man with over 30 years experience in wine making. After his death in 1983, his son Sandro became president of the company and ran it with the help of his sister Barbara and his brother Stefano. With their children now involved in the running of the company this history now spans thirty years and three generations. Though the history of the family can actually be traced back for four centuries in the world of wine and grappa.
Sandro’s energy and passion for the brand is utterly infectious and having run the distillery since the age of 19, he fully embodies the brand as one that is fun, vibrant and full of life.
Dinner was in Sansovino, the fine dining restaurant of the castle and it is again delicious, satisfying our craving for simple yet elegant and delicious food. Each menu had been carely devised for us by Irene with absolutely nothing left to chance. A crab salad started proceedings, followed by an excellent ravioli and guinea fowl for main course. We were also given the opportunity to try more the Bottega still wines, and once again fell in love with rosé.
A strawberry tart for dessert was paired with Bottega Ii Vino Dell‘Amore Petalo Manzoni Moscato Spumante Rose a higher sugar wine that really tasted of roses and was the perfect match with the dessert.
Very tired from our early start and rather tipsy from the Prosecco, it was time to make our way to our rooms in the castle as tomorrow we would be heading to the Bottega SpA vineyard and then on to Venice!
My trip to the Veneto Region was hosted by Bottega but this is not a sponsored post and thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.