A Sparkling Road Trip with Prosecco and an Alfa Romeo

Prosecco vintner Gianluca Bisol is crossing the United States in a custom roadster as he tries to highlight Prosecco's higher quality wines

A Sparkling Road Trip with Prosecco and an Alfa Romeo
Gianluca Bisol brought his wine and an Alfa Romeo from Italy to the United States. (Courtesy Desiderio Bisol & Figli)
May 4, 2022

Your next bottle of Prosecco might be delivered in a green Alfa Romeo Stelvio.

Gianluca Bisol, president and CEO of Prosecco's Desiderio Bisol & Figli winery, embarked on April 26 on a 25-day tour of the U.S. in a Verde Montreal–colored 2022 Alfa Romeo Stelvio Quadrifoglio, provided by the luxury Italian car manufacturer. Desiderio Bisol & Figli is a quality leader for the Prosecco region, a part of wine production in the area for 21 generations. And while the tour focuses on the Bisol brand, Gianluca stresses that it is also an educational effort.

"My idea is to build the knowledge of Prosecco Superiore," Bisol told Wine Spectator, referring to the wines from more distinct, delimited terroirs within the larger Prosecco appellation. "We created the success of Prosecco, but the market doesn't understand the differences between Prosecco DOC and Prosecco Superiore. The character of the Glera grape—it's very sensitive to the changes of altitude, the soil, [the exposure]—and you can find this in the glass."

Prosecco DOC accounts for the vast majority of Prosecco bottlings, with only one bottle of Prosecco Superiore produced for every seven bottles of Prosecco DOC. Prosecco Superiore is the quality tier above the entry-level Prosecco DOC and encompasses the region's two DOCG zones: Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco and Asolo. Within Prosecco Superiore there are additional quality distinctions, including bottlings labeled as Rive, from recognized, steep hillside vineyard sites and, at the pinnacle of quality for Prosecco, bottlings from the Cartizze, 265 acres of high-elevation vineyards located in Valdobbiadene. (Check out our ABCs of Prosecco Superiore video for more details.)

"We've definitely sensed resistance in the marketplace [to Prosecco Superiore]," said Rocco Lombardo, president of Wilson Daniels, Desiderio Bisol's U.S. importer. "The consumer gravitates to Prosecco DOC, maybe because of price point, maybe because of a lack of specific knowledge about the areas. We need Gianluca to be an ambassador for the Prosecco Superiore zone, with the name Bisol, of course, but first, the zone."

Lombardo recalls the evolution of Chianti Classico from the large-production, straw-packaged fiasco bottlings of the 1970s to the high-quality, single-vineyard Gran Selezione versions offered today, and sees similar potential for Prosecco.

Bisol produces five different Prosecco Superiore bottlings and, despite the fact that about 70 percent of their business in the U.S. is Prosecco DOC, events on the tour will highlight Prosecco Superiore exclusively. He'll be pouring three of the five Bisol bottlings: the Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Crede, the Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Relio Rive di Guia and the Dry Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze. The Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Jeio, from the family's second label, named for Gianluca's grandfather Desiderio "Jeio" Bisol, will also be featured prominently on the tour.

"The Prosecco Superiore is so different," said Bisol. "Thanks to the very steep hills; to the people working [in the vineyards] entirely by hand. [It's] 900 hours per hectare [2.47 acres]; in the flat area, for Prosecco DOC, it's 100 hours per hectare. So there is a reason that we can create a special taste in this wine."

The tour will travel nearly 5,000 miles, with stops in 14 cities, beginning in Boston and culminating in Los Angeles on May 19. "I love the United States, [and this is] an incredible opportunity for me to know more. I'll enjoy seeing the differences between all the states," said Bisol. "And if, [with this trip], the world of Prosecco can become a hierarchy of quality for most consumers, that will be enough."

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