Presecco — the sparkling wine tak­ing the globe by storm

The China Post - - ARTS -

Prosecco, a dry sparkling wine from Italy, has taken the world by storm in re­cent years. Last year it be­came the big­gest-selling sparkling wine glob­ally, over­tak­ing cham­pagne. The UK has tra­di­tion­ally been the big­gest sin­gle mar­ket for cham­pagne, and Prosecco sales also over­took those of cham­pagne in that coun­try last year.

Prosecco is mostly made from the Glera grape, which was for­merly known as Prosecco. Other va­ri­eties such as Bianchetta Tre­vi­giana, Verdiso and Per­era can be used in the blend. The wine’s name comes from the Ital­ian vil­lage where it is be­lieved to have been first grown. In 2010 the Ital­ian gov­ern­ment de­creed that “Prosecco” could only re­fer to the wine style and not the grape va­ri­ety, which hence­forth would be clas­si­fied as Glera.

Global sales have been grow­ing by dou­ble-digit per­cent­ages since 1998, helped by Prosecco’s low price com­pared with cham­pagne. That low price is the main rea­son for sales suc­cess, com­bined with a sig­nif­i­cant rise in qual­ity and a con­tin­u­ing world­wide in­ter­est in sparkling wine. Per­haps the world re­ces­sion that started about 2008 pro­duced an un­con­scious need to prove we can find bar­gain wines? The best sin­gle-vine­yard Prosecco DOCG — DOCG is the high­est tier of qual­ity — re­mains af­ford­able and the wine of­fers some ag­ing po­ten­tial.

The main rea­son for a lower pro­duc­tion cost is the wine­mak­ing process, known as the Char­mat method. Sec­ondary fer­men­ta­tion takes place in stain­less steel tanks, un­like cham­pagne where fer­men­ta­tion oc­curs in the bot­tle, which in­volves much more hu­man or ma­chine in­ter­ven­tion in things like turn­ing or “rid­dling” the bot­tles.

Un­til the 1960s Prosecco was a sweet wine. Now it typ­i­cally of­fers min­eral and sa­vory notes with a hint of sweet­ness, plus the at­trac­tive tight bub­bles or “bead” found in good cham­pagne. The Glera grape gives aro­mas of white flow­ers such as wis­te­ria, lily of the val­ley and aca­cia plus green ap­ple, pear and cit­rus.

The best DOCG Pros­ec­cos come from the steep slopes be­tween Conegliano and Val­dob­bi­adene in north­east Italy. Italy has about 6,500 hectares of vines de­voted to Prosecco grapes.

One of the in­ter­est­ing Prosecco mak­ers to emerge in re­cent years is Bottega SpA, a dis­tillery and win­ery lo­cated in Bibano in Tre­viso, about 45 kilo­me­ters north of Venice in the north­east of Italy. The com­pany started in 1977 as a grappa pro­ducer, but has slowly evolved into a wine pro­ducer.

Bottega SpA is best known for Bottega Gold Prosecco in its iconic gilded bot­tle, dis­trib­uted to more than 90 coun­tries. The bot­tle is pro­duced us­ing a com­plex me­tal­lic fin­ish­ing process. Be­yond the aes­thetic ap­peal, the bot­tle’s gold plat­ing pro­tects the wine by pre­vent­ing con­tact with light, pre­serv­ing aro­mas and fresh­ness and im­prov­ing longevity.

San­dro Bottega, owner of the win­ery and dis­tillery, orig­i­nated the idea of eye­catch­ing pack­ag­ing for his Prosecco in 2000. His idea was to pro­ject the no­tion of “ac­ces­si­ble lux­ury.” Some peo­ple com­plained the shiny bot­tle was an at­tempt to di­vert at­ten­tion from the con­tent’s qual­ity. Bottega Gold was re­cently awarded two pres­ti­gious in­ter­na­tional prizes, pre­sum­ably dis­prov­ing this ac­cu­sa­tion.

Bottega Gold re­ceived the ti­tle of “Prosecco Master” at the sec­ond an­nual Prosecco Mas­ters Com­pe­ti­tion that the Bri­tish mag­a­zine “the drinks busi­ness” (sic) or­ga­nized ear­lier this year. Only two Pros­ec­cos re­ceived this recog­ni­tion. The mag­a­zine con­cluded that Prosecco “now seems bul­let­proof, hav­ing carved a niche as a stylish sparkling wine rather than sim­ply as a cheap al­ter­na­tive to cham­pagne.”

About the same time the noted Bri­tish mag­a­zine “De­can­ter” awarded Bottega Gold a sil­ver medal at the latest edi­tion of its World Wine Awards, one of the globe’s largest and most in­flu­en­tial wine com­pe­ti­tions. Both com­pe­ti­tions were tasted blind.

Though la­beled as DOC, Bottega Gold is ac­tu­ally a DOCG Prosecco. The Glera grapes from which it is made are hand­picked in Val­dob­bi­adene, in the heart of Italy’s DOCG re­gion. Ital­ian reg­u­la­tions stip­u­late that Prosecco DOCG can only be put in glass bot­tles in col­ors that are trans­par­ent to yel­low, or green and brown to black. Thus Bottega Gold must be la­beled as Prosecco DOC.

The com­pany makes a range of Pros­ec­cos. Of par­tic­u­lar note is the beau­ti­fully named Il Vino dei Poeti ( wine of the po­ets). The com­pany web site says the name cel­e­brates the way po­ets, artists and art lovers raise their glasses to toast the joy of be­ing alive. This ex­tra dry wine comes from Glera grapes grown at or­ganic vine­yards that only use nat­u­ral pes­ti­cides and ban chem­i­cal from the site. The vines grow on land cov­ered by a layer of grape mulch that stops the growth of weeds.

Dark­ish straw yel­low in color, it is in­tensely fruity with pro­nounced aro­mas of ripe ap­ple, typ­i­cal of or­gan­i­cally grown grapes that tend to ox­i­dize. It would be won­der­ful as an aper­i­tif or in cock­tails but would also match well with fish and poul­try.

One of my fa­vorite Pros­ec­cos is sealed with a beer bot­tle cap known as a crown cap. The Fun­dum Il Vino dei Poeti DOC Prosecco is fer­mented in the bot­tle. This pre­serves the nat­u­ral yeast de­posits and the wine ap­pears cloudy in the glass. It is dry with low lev­els of sugar.

The crown cap is a hall­mark of the bot­tle, the com­pany said. It is sim­i­lar to the ev­ery­day Pros­ec­cos that Ital­ian farm fam­i­lies con­sume through­out the meal and of­fers fla­vors of ap­ple and dried fruits with a sa­vory fin­ish.

It is prob­a­bly best to de­cant this wine to let the sed­i­ments set­tle and al­low oxy­gen into the glass, which im­proves the fla­vors. It is suit­able for di­a­bet­ics, be­cause of the low level of sug­ars. Welcome to the new world of sparkling wines. Stephen Quinn writes about wine for a va­ri­ety of publi­ca­tions in the re­gion. From 1975 he was a jour­nal­ist for two decades with the Bangkok Post; BBC-TV, The Guardian, ITN, the UK Press As­so­ci­a­tion; TVNZ; the Mid­dle East Broad­cast­ing Cen­ter in Dubai and a range of re­gional news­pa­pers in Aus­tralia. Dr. Quinn be­came a jour­nal­ism ed­u­ca­tor in 1996, but re­turned to jour­nal­ism full time in 2011. He is based in Hong Kong and is the au­thor of 17 books. Annabel Jack­son has worked in the wine in­dus­try for more than 20 years, and has writ­ten eight books about wine and food. She is an Ad­vanced Am­bas­sador of the Academy of Wines of Por­tu­gal, and teaches wine mar­ket­ing at the Univer­sity of Brighton in the United King­dom.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.