Editor's Note: Prosecco is a wine that is under pressure. It should always be well chilled before opening. Always exercise caution when opening a bottle of sparkling wine. Point the bottle away from people and objects. Use a clean towel or clothe to firmly grip the bottle. Gently remove the wire stopper while firmly holding the cork in place. Then with thumb and forefinger, remove the cork slowly from the bottle. Do not let the cork fly. Enjoy!
The Nino Franco Winery is located in the upper reaches of the Veneto in the province of Venice. Here the Alps begin their ascent and the great Adige and Piave Rivers lie far to the south. This is Valdobbiadene, about as far from Venice as one can go and still be in the Veneto — an enclave of viticultural excellence that lies nestled among the foothills of the Alps. Valdobbiadene also happens to be Italy's finest production zone for Prosecco, Italy's most ebullient bubbly, and Nino Franco is its consummate craftsman.
More than a decade ago, Primo Franco took over this sparkling wine estate from his father, Nino Franco, and invested heavily in improvements to the winery and vineyards. The result has been the transformation of this estate into the region's foremost producer of sparkling Prosecco — much to the delight of the estate's legion's of fans.
In addition to fashioning Valdobbiadene's premier Prosecco, Primo Franco takes an active part in governing the Prosecco DOC, setting high standards of quality for Italy's most beloved sparkling wine and assuring the preeminence of the region's vineyards as the most meticulously tended in Italy.
Prosecco is a native Italian varietal, which deserves the beloved status it has long been accorded in Italy and is now, too, finally garnering abroad. In its native Veneto, Prosecco is the symbol of Venetian conviviality and a staple in every welcoming home. It is routinely offered to houseguests and served at nearly every wedding and Sunday luncheon. From any afternoon affair to the wee hours of the morning, to the occasional sip before lunch, life in the Veneto would simply not be the same without Prosecco. From Venice to the Dolomite Alps, Prosecco is undeniably the wine of the Veneto.
Although Prosecco can be made sparkling or still, the emphasis in Valdobbiadene, as in most of the Veneto, is on beautiful, dry, lightly sparkling versions like the Nino Franco Rustico. However, it is with Prosecco's predominance as a sparkling wine that the inevitable comparison with Champagne ends. Italian DOC regulation allows for a wide range of styles and techniques, resulting in a host of fresh, delicious bubbly that is meant to be consumed young, and with abandon. Alcohol levels for Prosecco are typically lower than for Champagne, too, usually no more than 10.5%-11%. For high quality Prosecco, the mousse (bubbles) is intentionally soft and non-aggressive, to heighten rather than mask natural fruit flavors. Austere, bone-dry examples as well as slightly sweet sparkling versions of Prosecco can still be found, but such wines are very much the exception today rather than the rule. Today, most Proseccos are light and pleasantly dry, but without the high acidity of Champagne or even worse its cheap imitations.
Most Prosecco producers, Nino Franco included, make several different Prosecco wines. In addition to the Rustico, Nino Franco's most popular wine, this firm turns out two other excellent sparkling wines from Prosecco and a lovely still Prosecco called Sassi Bianchi. No other wines are produced at Nino Franco, allowing this great house to concentrate on what it does best — make delicious, quaffable Prosecco that will make an aficionado out of even the most ardent opponent of Champagne.