Within the amphitheatre of vineyards in the hills north of Treviso, homes are made of stucco and stone with German-influenced wooden shuttered doors, and the white glera grape (formerly known as prosecco, named after a tiny village of Trieste) is harvested in mid-September. This golden, green-tinted jewel with a taste so “perfetto” is a grape varietal that spans 9 provinces in the Veneto region, used to make sparkling Italian white wine we know as spumante or prosecco.
Although the vineyards run down steep terrain, I cannot resist the temptation to make my way down a nearby branch of renegade sunlit grapes to pluck one for instant gratification. The warm burst of refreshing citrus, white flower and pear flavors add to the buildup in visiting La Marca, where it is suggested that prosecco wines will take over Champagne in the next few years (in total production of bottles). As of 2011, up to 57 percent of prosecco wines may be found in the U.S. But first, a stop at a vineyard, where colors of yellow, green and pink dominate the vintage chateau situated atop a mountain where you feel a reach to the clouds --- much like I would imagine heaven.
Since this is a sparkling wine best consumed with prosciutto, which washes the salt from your palate, it makes sense to sip outside around a table filled with the Italian sopressata, plus cheese and bread of the area.
At Il Castello di San Salvatore in Susegana, I am motivated to walk uphill from the landing below to burn some calories in anticipation of lunch to be served after a guided tour of the castle. I am left breathless by both the heart-pumping walk and the decadence of the exterior and interior design. During my tour, the story of the castle is told -- a man who was to marry a woman whose maiden combed her hair in her chambers – when her fiancé appeared at the door. The glance between the maiden and the man sent the woman into a jealous rage, enough to imprison the maiden by having a wall built where she was meant to stay until her death. When the woman’s fiancé found out about this, he broke off the engagement and sent her on her way, but the maiden’s cries can still be heard from the tower.
Once the history lesson is behind us, we begin our lesson on La Marca, named after a trevigiana zone in the heart of the prosecco region. This is where more than 5,000 winegrowers comprise families of pickers of this glera grape that emits a strong aroma of honeysuckle. I love this area – and this grape.
Only the blue label of La Marca prosecco is sold in the U.S. We taste the still version of prosecco, not for production, but sold locally for around 2 euro a bottle.
“It is the base to produce the others,” announces Fabrizio Gato, wine consultant for La Marca.
Next, we try the La Marca prosecco of Treviso, a lovely, elegant sparkling wine bottled with a screw cap. Tastes of green apple and lemon dominate this frizzante. Next is Ecco Prosecco, a refreshing, light blend, followed by a taste of effervescent Prosecco Treviso – Extra Dry.
Finally, we get a taste of the blue label La Marca, which is fantastic, with aroma of honeysuckle and perfect effervescence. We learn the German market is the biggest for prosecco wines before we taste our final glass of LaMarca Conegliano Valdobbiadena supierore, which really is superb.
All of the wines tasted are paired with local seafood of the area, such as octopus, shrimps and a harlequin of sea salad, as well as breads, cheeses and cold meats. My favorite is the Farro con mazzancolle e zucchini, which is spelt with shrimps and courgettes.