#Giro2020 Stage 14: An Individual Time Trial and the DOCG Prosecco Wines of Nino Franco

The Prosecco wines of Nino Franco

Friday’s Stage 13 took a while to get started but, once it got cookin’ there was lots of action to enjoy. What was billed as a day for the sprinters – of which Peter Sagan and Arnaud Demare, among others, were keenly aware – it turned out to be a GC battle to the finish.

My new favorite rider in the peloton is current maglia rosa wearer, João Almeida of Team Deceuninck. Every day he keeps the jersey, we all wonder how he’s held onto it this long: his team isn’t really built to defend a GC leader and when the big mountains come calling, he might be left on his own. But damnit, he’s valiantly defended his overall lead thus far, and his teammates drove the pace Friday afternoon – wait for it – leaving sprinters like Sagan, Demare, and Viviani hanging onto the back of the peloton!

Check out the recap of the last few kilometers to see just how great Almeida is riding. I still don’t think he can stay in the pink jersey all the way to Milan, but I sure do love watching him ride like the devil every day.

None of the jerseys changed hands on Friday. Saturday is an individual time trial, so be on the lookout for Filippo Ganna (winner of Stages 1 and 5) to put the hurt on the others. Plus it’s really fun to hear the announcers call him to the podium for his medal: “Filiiiiiiipppppooooo Gaaaaannnnnaaaaaa!” Trust me, you’ll enjoy it, too!

Whichever cyclist you cheer for, pour yourself a glass of good Prosecco from Conegliano Valdobbiadene in the Veneto region. It’s where the peloton is headed, and there’s some really good sparkling wine at hand if you know what to look for. (It’s all about that G!)

About Nino Franco

Vineyards at Nino Franco (winery photo)

This family-owned estate is celebrating its 100th birthday this month. Antonio Franco founded the winery (then called Cantine Franco) in the hill town of Valdobbiadene, Italy, in 1919. In 1982, his grandson, Primo, took the reins, investing in everything from improved vineyard practices to more efficient wine production. Considered a driver of the Prosecco revolution around the world, Primo remains committed to marketing Prosecco as a high-quality sparkling wine. While his daughter Silvia now runs the operation, Primo is still active in building relationships with wine lovers around the world, traveling far and wide to share his wines, his family’s history, and the ongoing evolution of Prosecco.

Prosecco – It’s More than a Single Wine

visual-1 Prosecco Info Site
Map of the Prosecco DOC region (courtesy of Consorzio Tutela Prosecco)

Did you know that there are several different quality levels of Prosecco? The wines labeled Prosecco DOC come from grapes grown on the flatter lands within the denomination, which spreads from Trieste to Vicenzo, as shown on the map above. When most people think of Prosecco, these are the wines they’re imagining: simple, refreshing, and fun, if not necessarily worthy of contemplation. However, anyone looking for a budget-friendly sparkling wine that is easily available could do much worse than a bottle of Prosecco DOC.

Rustico is a great QPR wine, retailing for about $20.

When It Comes to Prosecco, the G (as in DOCG) Matters!

But we can step it up a notch: that’s where the Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG designation comes in. Grapes grown on the slopes outside the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene bask in the long hours of sunlight each day, thanks to the slightly higher elevation. That allows them to ripen slowly and completely, resulting in wines that exhibit more complex flavors and aromas. Similar wines are made across the river, in the Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG.

Tasty Nino Franco duo

As you can see from the Wine Folly diagram, there are two other levels of Prosecco beyond this: Rive, which denotes one of 43 slopes in the DOCG area that have been identified as great places to grow Glera, the workhorse grape of Prosecco. Wines made from these grapes are labeled with the name Rive and the particular slope where the grapes were grown.

Prosecco quality pyramid courtesy of Wine Folly

At the very top of the Prosecco quality pyramid is Superiore di Cartizze, considered the “grand cru” of the Rives. It is a single plot of just 108 hectares, meaning quantities are small and quality is usually very high. Prices reflect the small quantities available, but they represent quite high QPR especially when compared to top-quality sparkling wines from other regions.

Nino Franco Cartizze Grave di Stecca

For me, that slice in the middle of the pyramid – the regular Prosecco DOCG tier – is the sweet spot. For less than $20, you can buy a very good sparkling wine that’s a significant step up from the basic Prosecco DOC, yet a real bargain compared to non-vintage Champagne and other bubbly bottles. And, if you’re looking for a low-alcohol option, the Rustico weighs in at just 11% abv. Perfect for a weeknight.

Cheers to the time trial and the absolutely delicious wines of Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG!

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