Bellenda The Selosse of Prosecco 2019

Founded in 1986 and devoted to organic farming, Bellenda produces a lineup of Proseccos that rarely disappoint and are usually marked by lovely purity and refined, almost austere aromas and flavors. The Cosmo family was one of the first to believe in, and revive, Prosecco wines made by the classic method of secondary fermentation in the bottle. IAN D’AGATA, Vinous

Bellenda takes a unique approach to Prosecco Superiore. This wine sees its secondary fermentation in the bottle (like a Metodo Classico sparkling wine) and it even sees a few months of sur lie aging for extra textural richness. All of these factors make this wine one step above your average Glera-based sparkling wine. MONICA LARNER, The Wine Advocate

When we visited the winery earlier this year for the first time I quipped that Umberto Cosmo was the “Selosse of Prosecco” and was very much intending on running with that for this offer but sadly this was kiboshed by the powers that be. All jokes aside though the reason that sprang to mind is that I was legitimately amazed at what we learned on our first visit to the estate. This is not your usual Prosecco producer, not by a long shot.

Firstly the property is located in the DOCG zone on the hills surrounding Carpesica, the heart of quality in the region, where as the bulk standard prosecco you see littering shelves all over the world tends to be grown down on the flats outside of the traditional area.

Umberto is very quick to make a couple points, they are organic and have been since before it was a fashion statement and a marketing tool. They drastically restrict the yields, Glera in in particular is very vigorous and this allows those mass producing prosecco to achieve yields that should make a wine grower blush.

Once Umberto thought we had these key points we ducked off for a quick tour and then a very in depth tasting. The tour was like any other winery that makes sparkling I had visited. The tasting was something else indeed. Cosmo (I know his name is Umberto but I cant stop thinking of him as Cosmo) guided us though what he called the history of Prosecco. I didn’t quite understand at first but he began with a wine that is made using the same methods traditional to the area, a cloudy rural style wine, and then moved through to some of his more modern incarnations, wines people are more likely to expect from the region  today. The tasting was intense and he explained the history of the wines, the region and his family’s estate as well as the progression of their understanding of what it meant to make great Prosecco.

His range extends from the fairly “classic” styled of San Fermo (named for the church next to their vineyards) through to the wild and heady Radicale, a wine that sees no sulphur and without being disgorged, so sold on full lees. We tasted through a number of older versions of this wine and they transformed the ideas I had in my mind about what it meant to drink Prosecco.

One more point to make here, the family were heavily involved in pursuing the local DOCG to allow for bottle fermentation in the region, something done traditionally but no longer allowed. Permitting this for Prosecco has allowed them to continue to drive Prosecco towards being regarded, as it should be, as a premium wine region.

The short story here is this, the Cosmo family are both visionaries in the way they have pushed the quality of their own wines and those of some of their neighbours towards higher and higher quality and a style that is distinct and unique to them and their area. Also in their adoption of organics in a region dominated by huge, commercial factory style wineries as well as the way they are working to bring back an understanding of what the wines of the region were before they became such a commercial product, their use of natural bottle fermentation gives us a glimpse in to the wines of yesteryear.

There are many comparisons that can be drawn between the Cosmo family and those that began the Grower Champagne movement that has transformed the way many people think of the region. It is fairly telling that Umberto and his family drink so well and so widely and that they also run an import and distribution business with a focus on Burgundy and, yes, Grower Champagne.

We here at PWS are very proud to be importing these wines and while Prosecco may have an image problem among some drinkers we sincerely think these break the mould and encourage everyone to include them in this spring and summers drinking line up. Every region needs a star and every style requires someone to commit to ensuring it reaches its full potential, that man is Umberto Cosmo for Prosecco.