Back in 1542, the Bisol family started cultivating grapes in the Valdobbiadene area of Italy. During 500 years of winemaking the family has been on a mission to make prosecco better by organically farming, marking the wines from top designates, bringing in technology updates for the vineyards and winery and expanding distribution around the world.
Prosecco is an Italian white wine produced in 9 provinces across the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions of northeastern Italy. The wine can be designated as either a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) or DOCG (Denominanzione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), which are Italy’s two highest wine classifications. These can only be produced in two areas. One is around the town of Treviso, about 25 miles north/northwest of Venice. The production zone is limited to the hills between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, where Bisol is located. It is located 30 miles north of Venice and 63 miles south of the Dolomites in the province of Treviso.
Last week, I had the chance to meet with Gianluca Bisol, the president and CEO, who is on a multi-state US trip to showcase the quality of his family’s prosecco, now available in America. His family’s story is one that is linked to a love of the land, a passion for prosecco and a desire to continue to innovate.
Ironically, he was here for a big marketing initiative with Wilson Daniels, a coast to coast road tour, but we focused on the wine. It was all about prosecco and his quest to make American’s understand the quality of DOCG wines and the magic that can happen if they seek out more than what they find on grocery store shelfs today.
For 21 generations, the Bisol family has grown and/or made sustainably farmed prosecco. Today, the leadership includes four family members including Gianluca and his brother Desiderio, the chief enologist and technical director.
Gianluca talked about a few key leaps of faith the family had to take over the past 500 years to make sure the wines were ready for today’s world stage. One was to spearhead a consortium of Conegliano Valdobbiadene producers in 1963 that was instrumental in obtaining the first Prosecco designation in 1969. In 2009, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco was elevated to a DOCG, Italy’s highest-quality designation in the Prosecco category. Several generations were involved in making this designation happen.
He has very high aspirations for prosecco as he is certain Cardizze should become the version of “Montrachet” of the region for this varietal. known for its “terra” or rich soils, slopes and vineyard exposure combining the five unique soils from the hills. “Chartice” — from Cartizze hill — is the grand cru of Prosecco located on the steepest hills.
The second big evolution was to make improvements for the equipment, vineyards and production – where previously some shortcuts were being taken. This was big investment in the future of what prosecco could be with the unique terroirs of the eastern and western portions of Conegliano Valdobbiadene.
They also decided to hand harvest on steep hillsides to select the best grapes. They have more than 20 vineyards. Superiore DOCG wines must contain at least 85% Glera grapes.
During the early 1900s, Eliseo Bisol developed the winery into a modest, but successful business. Bisol 1542 is deep rooted in the history of family members who charted its course to invest in the vineyards and the production of Bisol at a time others weren’t investing. The second selection of wines, Jeio, is named after Desiderio Bisol, Gianluca’s grandfather, who was nicknamed Jeio by his wife. He was described as larger than life and one man who put the winery on its path to produce some of the best prosecco in the world.
Several years ago, Bistro was acquired by the Lunelli Group who invested in putting Prosecco Superiore di Valdobbiadene on the world map. They have invested into the vineyards, production, distribution, marketing and branding.
Gianluca described the wines we tasted as varying from “fruit to flower” – depending on where they were grown. And these are far from what most Americans know as grocery store prosecco. They are special and are worth the premium, which actually make them some of the best values out there as they tasted much more expensive than they are.
- NV Bisol Jeio Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG – notes of pear, apple, herbs and spice.
- 2020 Bisol Crede Prosecco Superiore – notes of apples, pears, lime and a nice minerality.
- 2021 Bisol Cartizze, Valdobbiadene Superiore Di Cartizze DOCG – I tasted notes of flowers, croissant, stone fruit and apple. It continued to evolve in the glass.
- 2019 Bisol Relio, Rive di Guia, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG – named after Aurelio Bisol, who was known affectionately as “Relio”. The vineyard is from a single vineyard and planted on the steepest slopes. Fragrant with notes of green apple, orange blossom and honeysuckle that develop as you sip.
A Bright Future
I loved how the message of highlighting that prosecco can be really really good is the mission. This winery has a 500-year story to tell about advocating a region and the differences between Prosecco and Prosecco and Valdobbiadene to show the best of the region. “It’s about showing the difference, terroir and the history of the quality of what prosecco can be,” he said.
If there is one word after tasting the wines and meeting with Gianluca, it’s pride – not only for 500 years of advocating and progressing one varietal and region, but elevating it to be on the world stage for recognition.