At a glance:
Inspired by memories of her grandmother’s tavern or osteria, where conviviality and wines like A Fondo and Tajad followed, Cinzia Canzian started Alice (the name of her grandmother) in 2004, after an experience of almost two decades working for her husband winery and the Prosecco consortium. Her vision was to bottle an artisanal Prosecco that spoke of the grapes and soil, but was also bone dry Brut, and fruit from vineyards at the base of the Dolomites near her home. We call it Prosecco for non-Prosecco lovers (a category that includes us). Alice’s Brut style was the first in the Prosecco area to really get the attention of sommeliers and wine lovers looking for something to pair instead of Champagne, and it is still considered one of the best.
Vineyards and the Mealybug destroyer
The Prosecco DOCG growing area is part of UNESCO’s heritage sites, as rolling green hills of vines make their way to a part of the Alps that’s called the Dolomites. That edge, between green vineyard hills and the pink sheen of the Dolomites, is where Alice holds 12 hectares (9 that are owned by Alice and 3 she rents from her husband who own the Prosecco winery Bellenda). I say all this to underline what a gloriously beautiful place this is to grow the Glera grapes that make Prosecco, and underline how healthy and vibrant with cover crops Alice’s vineyards are. The winery doesn’t use any herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides. Yet, all is not idyllic: the devastating Scale insects here are capable of wiping out entire vineyards. Alice is part of an experimental pilot program with the Università di Padova e Conegliano to introduce the parasitoid Anagyrus pseudococci, and the punk-band sounding predator called Mealybug Destroyer. This is the kind of progressive approach we love, a tethering to tradition but not blinded by what other did before.
Various sparkling wine methods
Cinzia could have started and stopped exploring at her single-vineyard Brut Nature, that’s been a delicious mainstay of many tables (and countless weddings) for years. Instead, she pushed on to explore different fermentation methods. She says all this parsing has helped her understand even better how to reflect her grape and soil terroir. Cinzia recently added two wines made with secondary fermentation in the bottle: .g (Metodo Classico, or Champagne method) and P.S. (Metodo Integrale; i.e., not disgorged). Rounding things out are two easy going daily drinkers: Tajad, the old-school Prosecco blend from Vittorio Veneto that from local antique varieties, including Glera, that Cinzia’s grandfather made for her grandmother’s osteria in the 50’s, and Osé, a Brut rosé that’s made with the local Marzemino as the added red variety.
Col Fondo and A Fondo
In the last few years, the col fondo movement of cloudy Prosecco has caught on. Alice always made col fondo bottles for us to have when we would visit. They were refermented in the bottle and left on the lees or fondo (lit. ‘bottom’). Shake the bottle and it becomes cloudy with lees sediment. She’s now managed to make enough to offer some to the market with A Fondo, her 100% Glera, senza SO2, bottled feremented Prosecco. Only the best grapes go in here, and the resulting wine is stellar. Beer drinkers ‘get’ A Fondo, as it isn’t the classic fruit-driven Prosecco. A light red sparkling, made from Glera and Marzemino grapes, is called M Fondo, and it too is refermented in the bottle, pet-nat style. It kind reminds me of baby-Barbacarlo. It’s less bitter than Barbacarlo, but there’s a light fizzy and airy suppleness to the fruit that’s similar.
We see Alice as a winery that stuck to its guns to make natural Brut style, and called into question what ‘traditional’ Prosecco from the 50’s and 60’s really meant, when it would have been easy to have just gone with the Extra-Dry sweet-money flow. For that, we are grateful, and the reason we’ve been drinking, selling, and celebrating with these wines for years.
Part of the PortoVino portfolio
Delaware, National, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania