Prosecco is always spoken about with all due respect, but the concept of drinking comes with its own twists and turns. By now, the bubbly Prosecco has touched the palate of almost everyone, which is why the new favorite these days is Col Fondo. This drink belongs to the Prosecco family, and finds its roots in the Italian taverns, where when asked for Prosecco, you will be served with a not-so-clean or sparkling drink that you have always known.
If your curiosity is piqued by now, read on to find out more about this exquisite drink and the different bottles that you can try.
What Does Col Fondo Taste Like?
The name translates to mean “with sediment” or “with the bottom” in English. It essentially features lees at the end of the bottle, and is cloudy and unfiltered in texture. Just like Champagne, this drink is prepared through second fermentation process within the bottle itself. As a result, you get a savory, terroir-propelled, and dry wine that is a bit sour and funky to taste.
This taste is more intriguing than most Proseccos. The pastry-like and savory character comes from the yeast (dead), and the sour and funky notes remind you of green apples. You may come across certain bottles that infuse sage-like or desert thyme (dried) aromas into the drink. It is fizzy in character but less than filtered Proseccos, which is why it is gentler to the palate.
Origin of Col Fondo
Rooted in places like Conegliano, Asolo, and Valdobbiadene, this lees-featuring drink belongs to yesteryears when changing seasons would be responsible for creating delightful drinks. The fermentation process would come to a halt during the winter season and would start again when spring would arrive, releasing carbon dioxide that would impart a bit of effervescence to the wine.
On the contrary, Prosecco’s making involved the charmat method in which secondary fermentation process would take place in pressurized tanks made of stainless steel. This Prosecco-making process was invented in 1895 by Prof. Federico Martinotti, but the tanks were constructed and patented by Eugène Charmat in 1910.
The question here is how did they prepare Prosecco before the year 1895? Well, the answer lies in the fact that instead of pressurized tanks, the secondary fermentation process would take place inside the bottles. This process of preparing Prosecco can be dated back to earlier than 9th century, which is attested through a quote found on making Prosecco with secondary fermentation taking place inside the bottle. The name Col Fondo translates from Italian to English as with the bottom, which implies that lees or sediment is characteristically present in this drink.
How Is Col Fondo Made?
This Prosecco drink is put together by preparing a base wine, which is then provoked with another (second) fermentation process inside the same wine bottle. After this, the bottle is sealed. The lees in the wine bottle are never disgorged, and there is no further addition of dosage to this bottle. This preparation method is referred to as the ancestral method.
Grapes Used in Making Col Fondo- At least 85 percent Glera grapes are used in making this lightly-frizzy drink. The other grape varieties that you can use are the ones used in preparing Prosecco DOCG or DOC. These include Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero), Chardonnay, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Verdiso, and Glera Lunga.
The Glera Grape- This grape is crucial for preparing this drink, and a minimum of 85 percent of this grape should be used for preparation. Most of the time, Glera is the only variety used for preparing Prosecco. Earlier, this grape variety was called Prosecco but today using this name is not permitted legally, except in certain Australian produces. This grape is grown mostly in the north-eastern region of Italy mainly for producing Prosecco.
Normally, the grape makes semi-aromatic wines that are infused with pear, floral, and stone fruit flavors. However, when it comes to Col Fondo, there is no strong aromatic flavor because these flavors turn herbaceous and yeastier that remind you of green apples (the granny smith ones).
The residue that is yeasty in character, settles in the form of sediment at the end of the bottle, imparting intense and complex flavors. These flavors include apples, Alpine herbs, citrus notes, and mineral tones. The drink is released without getting rid of the yeasts which is why there is no addition of dosage after the completion of the second fermentation process. The bubbles in this drink are not as exuberant as their pressurized-tank-fermented cousin, and that’s why this drink falls in the frizzante classification.
Preparation Difference with Classic Wine
While making comparison with classic wine preparation, here are some things that will help you understand the difference:
The classic preparation for wine includes producing a base wine, which is followed by provoking inside the same bottle a second fermentation process. Then the wine is allowed to age on its sediment or lees without changing the bottle. Then the disgorging of the lees takes place, and finally a dosage or sweetener is added to the wine.
While this light-frizzy drink is prepared in the same method right up to the provoking stage, the bottle is then sealed up instead of undertaking disgorging of lees. Also, no dosage or sweetener is added to the drink, making it different from a bottle of wine.
What Makes It Stand Out From Regular Prosecco?
Although, filtered Prosecco is more of the two siblings, there are some distinct characters that makes this drink stand out from a regular Prosecco. The first is that there is less fizz in this drink, which enhances the aftertaste once the sour flavor leaves your palate. The presence of mineralized taste and sufficient body for the drink to age, produces something special that is both quaffable and complex.
If you are not into popping Champagne bottles, this drink comes with a crown cap instead of a cork. The reason is the use of ancestral methods for preparation in which traditionally crown caps were used.
Prosecco surpassed in popularity because large distributors and firms found potential in the swift financial returns and simplified drinking that Prosecco offered. The demand grew in the 1980s as more people wanted cleaner and crisper bubbles that were fermented in pressurized tanks. The resilience towards quick and easy profit-making made Col Fondo less famous.
While the 1970s saw higher production of Prosecco with more steel tanks featuring temperature-control option being introduced to the producers, the demand for Prosecco gradually decline. This is because people in general, started shifting towards more earthy tastes and traditional methods; both of which are characteristic to this drink. This brought back the terroir-propelled drink into the limelight. Even in the U.S. the audience found a new liking for this drink because they started looking for things that were heirloom and artisanal in nature.
Col Fondo Serving Guidelines
Drink Temperature- You can serve this drink at a temperature ranging between 6° to 8°C, and the form should include ample-size crystal.
Serving Glass- Try not to serve the drink in a narrow flute. You can pour this drink carefully in a serving carafe’ instead. This way you can enjoy the drink with its natural lees, which will directly pour inside the glass. At first, the drink might appear clear, but after some time the rich sediment will start appearing.
Where to Serve- You can bring this drink to a picnic and serve it with your cold dishes. It goes well with simple meals.
Storage Guide- When stored properly, this drink will evolve significantly over time, adding to the complexity on the palate and the nose after four years of being harvested.
Avoid shaking the bottle because it is the sediment that works all the magic in this drink.
The Best Col Fondo Wines
Here are some bottles worth trying:
The Case Paolin NV- This is a spectacularly fragrant and lightly-frizzy drink that comes with scents of stone fruit (white), honeysuckle, and lemon blossom. The dry palate is crispy with delivery of Bartlett pear, green apple, saline note, and citrus zest. Along with it comes bubbles that foam lightly and a strong acidity.
The Ca’ dei Zago 2016- This is a light sparkling drink with earthy tones that combines finesses and soul. It is bone dry and ethereal in nature. The drink comes with captivating flavors and aromas of citrus, ripe apple, Alpine herb, spring flower, and Bartlett pear. A smooth mousse and crisp acidity adds to the balance while the presence of a mineralized note helps you with a focused finish.
The Albino Armani NV Casa Belfi- You will enjoy the aroma of yeasty bread dough, wild flower (pressed), an earthy brimstone whiff, and toasted hazelnut in this drink. Accompanying these flavors will be the crispy palate of yellow apple and citrus.
The Costadilà Bianco dei Colli Trevigiani- This particular label comes with drinks named on the basis of the height at which the grape varieties used in them are grown. The drink features pear and yeasty scented flavor, which you can pair with cured meats like prosciutto.
The Zanotto Col Fondo- The richness of green apples and innate salinity make this drink more mineralized and leaner in taste.
This is all that you would want to know about this enticing drink. Give it a try and you will never want to go back to regular Prosecco.