Add fizz to your life with prosecco
Back in October of 2015 I wrote that prosecco was one of the fastest growing wine categories, as this Italian bubbly was gaining many new fans.
In November, a Bloomberg report described perfect weather and the biggest harvest ever, that represented an increase of 56 per cent over the previous year. In fact, in the USA over the past six years, sales have grown annually from about $15 million to more than $120 million. In 2013 prosecco actually outsold champagne throughout the world for the first time.
I am not for a moment suggesting that champagne is no longer the benchmark for the greatest of all sparkling wines, and if the need is only for the finest fizz then you would be wise to buy the French. Articles in the British press are hinting that supplies of the Italian bubbly in England may run out this summer and indeed during my recent stay in Italy I heard similar rumours about the wine named after the town of Prosecco.
Last year I also wrote that “we sell twice as much prosecco in a week than we did in a whole year ten years ago” and, amazingly, it just keeps growing in our 2016 season. We all know the old story about supply and demand but so far I have heard no suggestions for price increases. We've actually had some reductions due to the weaker euro and we have passed these on to our customers.
Even though the glera grape, used for making prosecco, has been around since Roman times it was not until 1969 that this style of wine was awarded DOC status. The Denominazione di Origine Controllata protects and limits the area of production, and laws are in place for its quality assurance. They were further strengthened in 2009 with a tightening of controls on zoning, bottling and production supervision.
It makes me chuckle when I hear someone ask, “Would you like a glass of prosecco or possibly a glass of wine?” You see, in my way of thinking, a sparkling wine is even “more wine” than a still wine, as not only is the alcohol part of fermentation saved, but also the carbon dioxide gas that is just allowed to escape during the making of still wines.
Our Pasqua Prosecco is a DOC-classified wine that is bright straw yellow in colour with faint greenish tinges. The nose is gently floral with a mixture of peach, pear and tropical fruit notes.
Like all prosecco it is made by the Charmat or bulk method, and this means that rather than going through a second fermentation in the individual bottle, like champagne, it is made in a large stainless steel tank and then bottled under pressure.
The very labour-intensive “méthode champenoise” is just one of the reasons why champagne is a more expensive proposition all around. This Pasqua Prosecco is $14.90.
In April of 2010, two small areas nestled in the hills of eastern Veneto, called Valdobbaidene and Conegliano, were designated DOCG status. Let me explain. In 1980 a new level for Italian wine went into effect and it was called Denominazione di Origine Controllata Garantita.
The idea was to guarantee a certain level of quality and single out the very best growing appellations. All DOCG wines must be submitted to a tasting panel before they can be released for sale. Special neck bands are given to put on the approved bottles. To say the least, it has caused a few arguments and now some of the finest producers just ignore it and put DOC on their bottle. It might be appropriate to say “de gustibus non est disputandum” or, for the Latin-challenged, “there is no arguing about taste”.
Anyway back to our Santa Margherita Prosecco Valdobbiadene DOCG with its peach, pear and apple aromas.
Wine & Spirits Magazine gave this 91/100 and said: “The texture of this wine deftly balances the richness of ripe stone fruit with the grip of fruit skins like apple and apricot.
“A hint of white pepper adds subtle complexity, while the finish feels fresh and elegant.” $19.90.
For many years we have imported prosecco from the Canella family and at this time we have their Canella Prosecco Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG 2014 — and plenty of it.
I emphasise the stock level because I am going to let you in on a little secret: we have always stocked their prosecco DOC but when I checked our stocks before writing about it, I made the discovery that they have shipped us the vintage DOCG and I am somewhat at a loss as to why, unless it was just a mistake.
Anyway, we are not changing the price and, to be honest, while tasting their wines with the Canella family in Italy in April, I did think that we should offer a vintage version. Fate has taken care of this for me, so this silky-smooth, textured vintage wine is yours for a bargain $17.60.
• This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at mrobinson @bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George's (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits is available online at www.wineonline.bm