Nino Franco

Alan Tardi on Primo Franco’s Vintage Prosecco

NNF Primo Franco Bottle“Last fall I attended an unusual tasting event at the Nino Franco winery in the town of Valdobbiadene. Trenta Brindisi al Prosecco Primo Franco celebrated thirty years of producing the company’s eponymous prosecco. The wine was something of a groundbreaker when it was first introduced in 1983 and, appropriately enough, so was the tasting that followed.

Primo Franco, creator of the wine, kicked off the evening by giving the audience—comprised mostly of journalists, sommeliers, friends and a handful of other wine producers—a bit of background.

“I didn’t set out to be a winemaker; I thought I was going to be an architect,” he began by saying. “I finally entered the family business in 1973. Ten years later, I came across a bottle of prosecco made by my grandfather that had been forgotten in the cantina. It had been made in 1956. I thought ‘this wine will surely be shot but maybe we can at least use it to make risotto.’ Then I tasted it. Much to my surprise, not only was the wine drinkable, it was enjoyable—still fresh and alive after almost thirty years. We had it with our dinner that evening rather than in it.

“This made a big impression on me,” he continued. “It changed my idea about prosecco and what it could be. I wanted to make a wine like that. And so, after the harvest of 1983, prosecco Primo Franco was born. It was an experiment. We did many of the things my grandfather (and others in the area) did—using grapes from one particular plot and from one vintage, and adding a fairly high amount of sugar (typically 27-30 grams per liter) to make a ‘dry’ prosecco—combined with the tools of modern technology. And we are still doing it, though each year is new and we are constantly making small changes and refinements, both in the vineyard and in the winery.”

One by one, the wines were poured into the eight empty glasses sitting on the paper placemat in front of us, from the most recent to the very oldest: 2013, 2003, 1992, 1989, 1988, 1986, 1984 and 1983.”—ALAN TARDI

Click here to learn about Alan’s discoveries in the glass.

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