In the final part of my report from a visit to northern Italy and the Masi portfolio of estates, we drove two hours north and east to Valdobiaddene, centre of Prosecco production and the headquarters of the Canevel estate. Created by the Caramel family in 1979, I met up with Carlo Caramel (right), who explained that the business is now in partnership with Agricola Masi for both wine production and commercialisation, Masi having bought a controlling share in the company.
This is the Valdobiddene-Conegliano DOCG area, the core of the Prosecco DOC region. Canevel’s 26 hectares of estate vineyards are planted on relatively steep slopes, growing the Glera (formerly ‘Prosecco’) variety. Soils are rich in clay, sandstone and marine marl, and grapes are hand harvested and gently pressed into the fermentation tanks, with the juice maintained at low temperature. Most of this fruit is bottled as single-vineyard ‘Crus’, though fruit is also sourced from growers in the region for some cuvées.
Farming avoids synthetic herbicides and pesticides, and some vineyards are fully organic. Their Campofalco cuvée is organically certified, and recently received Tre Bicchieri from the Gambero Rosso.
Andrea Dal Cin, group technical director for Masi, is in charge of the production process here and draws on Masi’s extensive experience to continuously improve the wines, one of the major programmes at the moment is experimenting with yeasts that will increase production of amino acids, to induce autolysis very quickly, thus protecting the wines from oxidation which in turn will minimise the use of sulphur. They are working with six yeast strains currently, but Andrea says “Perhaps in the future there might be a Canevel yeast that can be developed from the vineyards.”
This is clearly a Prosecco producer focused on quality, and part of a growing number of producers looking to produce distinctive and terroir-expressive wines that stand some way apart from the cheaper Proseccos on supermarket shelves. All wines tasted below come from the 2017 harvest.
(2019) Very pleasant sherbet and pear nose with a juicy apple freshness on this Extra Dry, with 15g/l of residual sugar. Nicely pitched palate too, with good balancing lemony acidity. A quality Prosecco from the flatter vineyards.
(2019) From the hillside Faè vineayrd, a zero dosage Prosecco that has direct, lemony aromas, tight and almost salty mineral notes. Because this is fermented totally dry, a special yeast is used to improve the minerality and length of the wine. The palate is very crisp, very racy, and though there’s a pithy lemon tartness, the clarity is fine, racy and quite long.
(2019) A fine mealy note, lemon zest and lemon rind, a touch of charming icing sugar lightness and touches of floral character. Even with 10gl of dosage it is dry to taste, very elegant with a raciness and a lovely fresh but not aggressive finish, with only 4 bars of pressure. I cannot see a UK retail listing for this wine at time of review.
(2019) Very fine, very racy, a golden delicious ripeness, then the 16g/l of sugar and a certain preachiness absorbed into the racy sherbet lemon clarity of the fruit and acidity. Balanced and a dry impression right in the finish, despite the sweetness being quite obvious mid-palate.
(2019) This organic vineyard is surrounded by forest, with no immediate vineyard neighbours, allowing them to farm organically with no danger of neighbour's synthetic chemicals drifting into the vineyard. 250 metres elevation on a very steep limestone slope. So different on the nose, a definite yeasty autolysis, such a pleasing breadth and depth of aroma and flavour, very fine mousse and a delicious length and balance. Peachy, but biscuity too thanks to extra time on the lees. No UK retail stockist at time of review.
(2019) Foamy, lemony and bright, with crisp and crunchy apple. A little bit of biscuity richness to this, and obvious sweetness from 25g/l residual sugar that gives a nectarine fruit sweetness. There is a good lemon and lime acidity and a nice saline touch that helps offset that, and gives a medium-sweet but not cloying finish that is very stylish.
(2019) Canevel made their first Millesimato Valdobbiadene in 1989. A selection of the best grapes, gives a nice touch of biscuity autolysis, creaminess to apple fruit. A ripe and fruity palate, but an extra ounce of intensity here, with a lovely creaminess of texture and racy but gentle lime acidity. No UK retail listing at time of review.