Prosecco Conegliano Val­dob­bi­adene

A hugely suc­cess­ful cat­e­gory, but Prosecco’s ge­og­ra­phy-based la­belling can make the best qual­ity wines hard to spot. Andy Howard MW ex­plains where to look for the best value

Decanter - - BUYING GUIDE -

87 wines tasted Con­sis­tent qual­ity and char­ac­ter in these pre­mium Ital­ian sparklers – it’s worth spend­ing a little ex­tra

T his vin­tage it is fore­cast that 500 mil­lion bot­tles of Prosecco will be pro­duced. The star­tling growth of Prosecco has been one of the most sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ments in the wine world dur­ing the past two decades, and to­day it is by far the largest sparkling cat­e­gory. Ear­lier this year, the Fi­nan­cial Times re­ported that Prosecco sales in the UK have in­creased by more than 6,000% since 2008. UK con­sumers clearly en­joy Prosecco, con­sum­ing 85m bot­tles in the last year. But, the lat­est fig­ures show that sales in the UK have fallen for the first time in a decade.

Prosecco is made in the northern Ital­ian re­gions of Veneto and Fri­uli-Venezia Gi­u­lia. Although the core, DOCG ver­sion is pro­duced in the hill­side ar­eas around the towns of Conegliano and Val­dob­bi­adane, the wider area of pro­duc­tion runs all the way to the Slove­nian bor­der in the east. Glera is the key va­ri­ety and must ac­count for at least 85% of the blend. Most Prosecco has a flo­ral fra­grance, with light body, soft mousse, re­strained flavours of white peach, and a sweet­ness from a fre­quently higher dosage. Drink­ing en­joy­ment is the key.

Su­pe­rior qual­ity

Prosecco is nearly al­ways pro­duced by the Char­mat (‘tank’) method. Italy has a long tra­di­tion us­ing this process, with large, re­frig­er­ated stain­less-steel tanks used to con­duct the sec­ondary fer­men­ta­tion in a more in­dus­trial way. The ma­jor ad­van­tage of Char­mat pro­duc­tion is speed – the sec­ond fer­men­ta­tion can take as little as four weeks. There are also ben­e­fits in terms of con­sis­tency, the abil­ity to re­act bet­ter to the mar­ket, and con­se­quen­tially lower pro­duc­tion costs.

How­ever, crit­ics are quick to point out that it’s dif­fi­cult to reach the qual­ity lev­els of the best tra­di­tional-method wines. The lat­ter will usu­ally have some years of age­ing on the lees, en­cour­ag­ing a fine mousse to de­velop and en­hanc­ing flavour com­plex­ity.

Although Char­mat wines are ca­pa­ble of high qual­ity, many Prosecco wines can be less in­ter­est­ing to taste. This does not ap­pear to con­cern mil­lions of con­sumers, though, who ap­pre­ci­ate Prosecco’s lighter, un­com­pli­cated and sweeter style.

Prosec­cos from newly planted ar­eas to the north­east of Venice carry the DOC des­ig­na­tion and can be made in spumante, friz­zante (lightly sparkling) and tran­quillo (still) ver­sions. DOCG Prosecco Su­pe­ri­ore is nearly al­ways spumante and comes from the hill­side vine­yards around Conegliano and Val­dob­bi­adane, or the sep­a­rate area of Asolo. The emerg­ing DOCG des­ig­na­tion Rive is re­stricted to 43 spe­cial sites with spe­cial ter­roir char­ac­ter­is­tics. DOCG Prosecco Su­pe­ri­ore should be very con­sis­tent, of good qual­ity and a dis­tinct step up from DOC. Bot­tles car­ry­ing the Rive clas­si­fi­ca­tion should show ad­di­tional ter­roir in­ter­est.

For this tast­ing, the panel’s ex­pec­ta­tions were of a solid, rather than ex­cit­ing line-up. So, were these ex­pec­ta­tions met?...

‘Prosecco Su­pe­ri­ore should be con­sis­tent, of good qual­ity and a step up from DOC’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.