Federico Ricci is at the helm of this pretty much young estate following the steps of his father Luca, still present in the family business after having established it in the late ‘90s. The main goal at the very beginning was the production of subtle and elegant reds, but demand of quality driven Prosecco encouraged the winery to complete its portfolio.
Ricci’s dynasty is pretty simple to explain: it’s a story that began with the grandfather, a famous enologist and winemaker, continues with his son Luca, a business man with a farmer soul, and now is adding new chapters with the 3rd generation member, thirty something Federico.
More specifically Luca Ricci farm was established in 1999 in Collalto di Susegana, roughly 60 km north of Treviso, from a long family tradition of experience and passion. Luca is a versatile and successful business man with a deep love for food and wine and his charismatic attitude challenged Federico to increase his viticulture studies and know-how by attending different internships in Australia and France with local wine estates.
No matter if they are dealing with cherries, potatoes, spinach, vinegar and wine, as the Riccis always tried hard to take the best from their magnificent land in which they still live at the deepest contact level with fields and vineyards. This is why their soul is threefold: they farm, they are good wine producers and they believe in hospitality by managing a country house bed and breakfast.
Ricci estate fully practices the integrated pest control management (IPM). All this implies the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.
In order to get quality products is critical to facilitate the natural cycle and that’s the reason why the Riccis practice crop rotation on their fields in both Collalto lands and Pieve di Soligo (for potatoes, spinach and radicchio) allowing the soil to regenerate naturally by maintaining the variety of nutrients and contributing to greater soils stability on the long term.
Le Fade in Veneto dialect means Le Fate (Fairy in English) and is a mysterious local cave that gave the name to the ancient family mansion which has been recently adapted partially as a bed and breakfast. This family place represents almost a magnetic symbol for Ricci’s dynasty and when time came to brand the best Prosecco nobody had the slightest doubt: Le Fade name was everyone’s pick and this Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry has been acclaimed by wine critics since its debut a decade ago.
33 vineyard hectares managed directly by young Federico plus grapes coming from consolidated relations with local partners in the surrounding area of Susegana, a small village in the Treviso area. This is a lot to manage and it allows this estate to play a relevant role.
Federico runs the vineyard with modern and, at the same time, ancient techniques inherited from his grandfather Romano who was cellar master and wine director for several Veneto estates during his career. All work in the vineyards is done with one goal in mind: producing the best wines that nature will permit.
Ricci estate has always been considered a bit atypical as red wine production was the soft spot of Luca and that’s why reds are always produced although in small quantities by achieving great terroir expression. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere thrive here when yields are kept low. This includes pruning to yield a meager 38 hectoliters/hectare for red wine production, using as less as possible fertilizers and this includes partners vineyards which benefit from Federico’s supervision and careful attention. Production of fine red wines in the Prosecco area has been a challenge and something always debated with long time family friend Silvio Fanton. Years later it’s fair to admit that terroir and detail oriented cultivation techniques gave way to excellent wines marked by a relevant structure and impressive longevity.
Referring to white wine production this is a discontinued trend. Only from vintages that deserve to be remembered, special wines are made in a limited edition quantity: Ricci’s Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, always unfined and unfiltered in order to keep intact the original grape bouquet, are great food companions and sought after by Treviso restaurants and wine bars. More specifically the Pinot Grigio is produced in a classic old school ramato (copper) style by allowing a week long skin contact and developing a nice tannic structure that adds interest overall to this little gem. These two wines are called Una Tantum, from the Latin expression. The estate enologist is Fabio Bigolin who regularly consults for some wineries in Northern Italy and has been recently hired in Sicily as well; on the other hand Federico Ricci is graduated at the famous Conegliano Oenological School.
The name originates from the Italian village of Prosecco near Trieste where the grapes may have originated. Throughout its long history, the Conegliano Valdobbiadene zone has made Prosecco into an extraordinary success story, creating over the course of time a modern, informal and vivacious Italian-Style drink that is appreciated and enjoyed all over the world. Conegliano Valdobbiadene, which gained DOCG recognition in 2009, represents the cornerstone of the quality pyramid for Prosecco. The rules for this specific DOCG also allow the use of the “Metodo Classico” with the secondary fermentation in the bottle.
Other DOCG are pretty small and include the Colli Asolani, Rive Superiore and Cartizze. While all the best appellations are located in the heart of Conegliano, it’s easier to find on the shelves DOC labeled Prosecco coming from lesser quality driven areas (Treviso and all the way some other communes in Friuli Venezia Giulia.
The main grape is Prosecco (but almost everyone calls it Glera) and other minor local grape varieties are admitted in the blend. The following varieties are traditionally used with Glera up to a maximum of 15% of the total: Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir).
Grapes turn into wine via the Charmat sparkling method, which gives wines approximately 3.5 atmospheres of pressure. This means Prosecco’s bubbles typically last longer than beer (which has approximately 1.5 atmospheres of pressure) and not usually as long as Champagne (5-6 atmospheres of pressure).
Some winemakers are reviving the customary Prosecco Col Fondo, refermented in the bottle but not disgorged, as the wines are left on their lees. This yeasty residue leaves a fine sediment on the bottom (fondo in Italian) that imparts more complexity and flavor. These wines are currently labeled Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, without the added term Superiore—which is reserved for wines that have at least 3.5 bars of pressure in the unopened bottle, while the Col Fondo generally have 2.5 bars
Most Prosecco wines are produced in a dry, brut style. However, due to the grapes’ fruity flavors of green apple, honeydew melon, pear, and honeysuckle, it usually seems sweeter than it is. Even though brut is the most popular sweetness level of Prosecco sold in the market today, you can find styles that are sweeter if you seek them out. Here is how Prosecco is labeled for sweetness:
Brut: 0–12 g/L RS (residual sugar) – Up to a half gram of sugar per glass
Extra Dry: 12–17 g/L RS – Just over a half gram of sugar per glass
Dry: 17–32 g/L RS – Up to 1 gram of sugar per glass.
The estate wines are largely appreciated by Italian wine press, especially by Vini Buoni d’Italia published by Touring Club Italiano.
In a nutshell Luca Ricci winery produces three Proseccos (Le Fade, Goto, Do Case) and four reds: Vigna del Doge, Salariato, Bausk and Apaiolo (the flagship wine which is 100% Merlot). Unfined and Unfiltered Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, only produced in the best years, complete the wine roster. These wines (both labeled Una Tantum) display a more artisanal winemaking interpretation allowing the varietals to fully express themselves.
The famous wine journalist and blogger Luciano Pignataro included Le Fade Prosecco among the best deals possible at the moment in the sparkling category in his book “Grandi vini a prezzi low cost” published by Bur Rizzoli in 2014.
Steep Hill at the moment imports Luca Ricci’s best Prosecco.