Prosecco's New Wave


As a young enology student less than a decade ago, Christian Zago learned that most Prosecco was akin to beer.

"They taught us that common Prosecco was something you drank and then pissed out," laughs Zago, 29, at his family's 91-year-old Ca' dei Zago winery in the hamlet of San Pietro di Barbossa.

His blue eyes widening, Zago counters that, within the gorgeous sloping hills of Valdobbiadene in the Prosecco Superiore zone, "We have some fantastic terroirs. The problem is that, to the public, it is all Prosecco."

Prosecco's image is changing, if slowly. And in a very short time of only five vintages, Zago has established himself as an important producer of what is known as traditional col fondo Prosecco.

Zago's single-vintage wines don't rely on the charmat method, dominant in Prosecco, in which the wines undergo secondary fermentation in large, pressurized steel tanks. His more rustic approach is similar to the metodo classico, used in Champagne, with the bubbles created by fermentation in bottle. The difference is that the resulting lees are not disgorged before sale. Instead they rest, somewhat murkily, at the bottom, or "col fondo," of the bottle.

"For me, it's the best way to bring the terroir to the table," says Zago, who also defines "best" as a minimal amount of filtering and the full blog at