Prosecco on Lees

Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco Col Fondo is bottled without filtration. The tiny bit of natural yeast left in the wine is intentional and completely safe to drink

The most interesting wine I tasted this Covid year is Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Col Fondo” DOCG 2018.

Even as we offer the slightly fizzy Prosecco “Col Fondo” or sur lie (in French) on our sister website, myself bought three bottles each of the 2018 and 2019 vintage.

As I write this, only two bottles remain.

So insatiably delicious is the Prosecco from Valdobbiadene, the hilltop sub-region regarded as the “Grand Cru” of Prosecco.

I drove, last year, to Valdobbiadene on 7 October 2019 to visit the House of Nino Franco, perhaps the greatest producer of sparkling Prosecco. Indeed, I stay at Villa Barberina, their guest house which is also open to the public. My hosts were the charming proprietors Nino & Annalisa Franco and their daughter Silvia.

When I first tasted Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Col Fondo” DOCG 2018 in Singapore last month, it was gratifying to be told its owner Christian Zago had been attached to the House of Nino Franco at one time.

Proprietor Winemaker Christian Zago pays tribute to his grandfather in the way he makes his Prosecco “Col Fondo”

Great winemakers have a way of connecting.

Christian Zago does not make sparkling Prosecco.

Instead, his Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Col Fondo” is produced in the traditional, historical way, the same his grandfather had done so before Prosecco became sparkling.

Christian Zago takes us back to the future.

In fact, it was only in the 1970s that pressurized tanks were introduced to make Prosecco sparkling or spumante.

If you stand the bottle up for a while, the wine is completely clear and bright (as the yeast sinks to the bottom of the bottle)

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Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Col Fondo” is only frizzante or fizzy. And is absolutely bone-dry. Because the fruit is so intense and persistent, the dryness is very well integrated into the wine and not at all austere.

Founded in 1924, Azienda Agricola Ca’ dei Zago has six hectares of vineyards in Valdobbiadene, Veneto.

There has never been any herbicide or pesticide used in the terraced vineyards– 300 to 400 metres above sea level – belonging to Ca’ dei Zago. The vines hang breathtakingly on steep slopes so characteristic of the unforgettable Valdobbiadene landscape.

Machine harvesting is impossible so human hands (and legs) are responsible for bringing in every vintage. Since 2010, Ca’ dei Zago has been biodynamic.

Ca’ dei Zago – produced principally from the Glera variety – the yield is a miniscule 13.5 hectolitres per hectare.

The steep, terraced, biodynamic vineyards – 50-year old vines – are 300 to 400 metres above sea level in Valdobbiadene, the “Grand Cru” DOCG of Prosecco

Compare this with the permitted yield for Burgundy Grand Cru white which can be between 40 and 64 hectolitres per hectare (for Grand Cru red it’s about 35 to 37 hectolitres), and we realise how severe and serious Christian Zago is in putting utmost quality in the bottle.

Even if we take into consideration a Burgundy vineyard is planted to an average 10,000 vines per hectare and Ca’ dei Zago is just half that number of vines, doubling 13.5 hectares to 27 hectolitres per hectare is still only around half the yield of a Burgundy Grand Cru Chardonnay.

The incredibly low yield brings forth a wine of great purity and stubborn persistence.


Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco Valdobbiadene “Col Fondo” DOCG finishes its fermentation – the last 1% – in the bottle. This is the traditional, ancestral way of making Prosecco.

The result is a delicately fizzy wine that is just slightly cloudy because of the tiny bit of spent yeast still in the bottle. If you stand the bottle up for a while, the wine is completely clear and bright (as the yeast sinks to the bottom of the bottle).

Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco Col Fondo is bottled without filtration. The tiny bit of natural yeast left in the wine is intentional and completely safe to drink. It’s harmless, tasteless and for any student, scholar or lover  of wine, priceless!

Tasting Notes

Ca’ dei Zago Prosecco Col Fondo Valdobbiadene DOCG 2018*

Hand-harvested, when the grapes reach the winery they are pressed by gravity and never pass through pumps. The Glera variety planted (and some Bianchetta and Verdisio e Perera) in the 6 hectares of vineyards are from very old clones. The soil is predominantly clay and limestone. The age of the vines is 50 years. Fermentation starts in concrete tanks (and depending on the vintage) can be for 10 to 20 days and is then transferred to stainless steel tanks where the fermentation continues except for the final 1%. The wine is bottled with this tiny bit of yeast and finishes the fermentation in the bottle. The spent yeast is left in the bottle. Shining bright straw, Ca’ dei Zago is upliftingly fresh and bone-dry. With a very attractive fizz or frizzante to it. Appley/citrus fruit with a hint of yeast. Reminds a bit of young, fresh, sparkling apple cider. Makes for an invigorating aperitif. Perfect also with a dim sum lunch, pakoras, tempura, sushi and sashimi.

 *The 2018 vintage is starting to become gently creamy in texture. Although 2018 is already very good, the 2019 is even better!

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