The Glera Grape behind Prosecco Wine in 1000 Words
Everything You Need to Know about the Glera Grape & Prosecco Wine… and more.
Glera is essentially the synonym of Veneto’s Prosecco grape of northern Italy. The name by which it is now officially known.
Top Interesting & Fun Facts about Glera/Prosecco
What you should really know about Glera & Prosecco – Top 5 Facts:
1- Prosecco wines MUST be made from a minimum of 85% Glera grapes using the tank method (Charmat).
2- Glera is a semi-aromatic variety meaning it can be rather fragrant, floral and fruity when grown with care and low yields.
3- It is always a white wine mostly grown in Veneto, with a small percentage in Friuli–Venezia Giulia.
4- Prosecco DOC is the largest denomination of origin in Italy and Glera produces the highest volume of any Italian DOP.
5- Originally the grape was known as Prosecco (and several variants such as Prosecco Tondo) but the name was changed in 2009 in order to protect the Prosecco name from international appropriation.
5 Things You Didn’t Know about Glera & Prosecco:
1- There is an actual town called Prosecco, located in Friuli Venezia Giulia’s province of Trieste.
2- Since 2013, more bottles of Prosecco are sold globally than even bottles of French Champagne (307 million bottles of Prosecco sold in 2013 versus 304 million of Champagne that year).
3- The fermentation of Glera in tanks rather than in bottle like in Champagne results in more affordable sparkling wines. You do get more wine for your bucks!
4- Not all Prosecco is sparkling! Most are indeed spumante (abundantly bubbly), but some come as the slightly fizzy version called frizzante, or even entirely still as tranquillo (although these are rarely seen outside of Italy).
5- Prosecco has both DOC and DOCG status. Standard Prosecco comes under the Denominazione di Origine Controllatta ‘Prosecco DOC’. But some small vineyards areas with vines growing in limestone-rich and steep hillsides benefit from the Prosecco Superiore DOCG appellation such as Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Cartizze, Asolo or Rive.
Glera: The Grapes behind Prosecco Bubblies
Prosecco wines MUST be made predominantly from Glera grape, which must account for 85% of the final blend.
Other permitted varieties (up to 15%) are both local (Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera and Glera Lunga) and classic international grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco/Blanc, Pinot Grigio/Gris and Pinot Nero/Noir).
When grown in the large Venetian plains with virtually unrestricted yields, Glera’s expression can become rather neutral due to a lack of aromatic compound concentration.
But when planted on well-exposed slopes (south-facing and sunny ones) with controlled yields, Glera can produces fragrant wines.
Limestone terroir adds depth, leanness, and finesse to the Prosecco wines such as those found in the Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG vineyards.
The grape is relatively late-ripening and prone to fungal diseases. Glera is also susceptible to water stress and requires soils with good water retention properties.
Glera grapes are moft-often machine-harvested, although some DOCG regulations command grapes to be picked by hand.
Aromatic Profile & Tasting Notes
Glera is considered a semi-aromatic variety, although when grown on flat land with unrestricted yields, it becomes rather neutral.
If planted on south-facing slopes with controlled yields, Glera produces expressive fruity and floral bubblies characterized by aromas and flavors of:
- Citrus: lime, lemon, grapefruit or mandarin
- Pipfruit: Apple & Pear
- Honey & Floral Characters: acacia honey and flowers, elderflower, lily, daisy
Prosecco wines are marked by a distinctively high acidity, adding freshness and amplifying the zesty flavor characters of the grapes.
It is believed that organic Prosecco can be more fragrant and aromatic, as the grapes develop thicker therefore more flavorsome skins.
From Prosecco to Glera: The Reason for a Name Change (2009)
Originally the grape was known as Prosecco (more precisely Prosecco Tondo) but the name was changed in 2009 in order to protect the Prosecco name from international appropriation.
Because before 2009, Prosecco was the name of the grape used to make the sparkling wines that came under the Prosecco IGT (typical geographical indication of origin) in northern Italy, any other country and winery outside of Italy could potentially use it, just like Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon which are now grown all around the world (see an example here with an Australian Prosecco).
To prevent the international wine scene from using the original Prosecco name and protect their heritage, Italian authorities changed the name of the grape to Glera, and then claimed the name Prosecco as a protected indication of a place.
The presence of the town named Prosecco located in the province of Trieste (Carso triestino) which was historically linked to the origin of the grape variety which was already listed in the National Register of Grape Varieties as a historical synonym of Prosecco legitimized the claim before the E.U authorities.
This official recognition taken by the Italian Ministry for Agricultural and Food Policies in collaboration with the European Union, allowed preventing imitation and exploitation of the name.
Because the E.U. has agreements with many countries around the world to protect its indications of origin (such as Champagne, Burgundy, Bordeaux or for many of its cheeses e.g. Grana Padano) wine producer outside of the Italian Prosecco DOC and DOCG denominations area may not use the term on a wine label, but only the term Glera.
History of Glera in Brief
The earliest documentation concerning the cultivation of Prosecco variety in the Veneto region dates back to 1754.
The 1870 “Ampelografia Generale della Provincia di Treviso” includes a Prosecco bianco, tersely defined as a “favourite variety for fine wine”.
In 1907, in the “Rivista della Scuola di Viticoltura ed Enologia di Conegliano” (The Journal of the Viticulture and Oenology School of Conegliano), F. Antonio Sannino provided a rather detailed account of the Prosecco cultivars growing in the Treviso hills.
In more recent times, after World War II, Prosecco was given its first boost in development and its first protection by the law on the Denominazioni di Origine dei Vini (Delimitation of Wine Origins).
According to the 2000 Agriculture Census, some 4,000 ha in the DOC Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene zone were planted to Prosecco. In 2005, that rose beyond 4,700, to become 5,700 in 2010. Source springer.com
Food Pairings for Glera & Prosecco Wine
Because of its acidity and its discrete xesty flavors, Prosecco bubblies are versatile food-friendly wines.
Here is a selection though of particularly successful Prosecco pairing articles with various international cuisine styles (follow link or click on image to read more):
Learn More about ‘What is Prosecco?’
We’ve gone through all the most common questions you have about Prosecco bubbles, to get you to understand the essence of this ultra-famous but sometimes misjudged Italian wine. You will find the best Prosecco wines, the different sweetness levels (dry, brut, extra-dry), the quality levels, Champagne Vs Prosecco, information about #NationalProseccoWeek and much more through the article below.
4 Reasons to Choose an Organic Prosecco
Why would I choose and buy an Organic Prosecco or even more generally an organic wine instead of a conventional (non-organic) one?
You might be wondering. Well, there are several valid reasons to do so.
Find out the 4 Reasons You’d Want an Organic Prosecco.
The Challenges of Growing Organic Prosecco
While many producers simply enjoy the global trends of easy and increasing global sales, one winery, the Corvezzo Winery, has decided to take a distinctive approach using various environmentally-friendly production practices, and producing exclusively organic wines across their whole range, including many successful organic Prosecco and Pinot Grigio wines.
To learn more about how one finds himself becoming the #1 organic Prosecco and Pinot Grigio vineyard in Italy, I have asked the owner of this half-a-century-old family winery, Giovanni Corvezzo —who calls himself the Happy Farmer—, to tell us more about his approach to viticulture, winemaking, business, and organic wine.