Over the past few years, I have reviewed several higher-end Proseccos to consider for holiday celebrations. The following is an update of that article with several more wines currently available….
Before I started writing this blog, I had a love/hate relationship with Prosecco. Actually, it was pretty much a hate-only relationship since most of the Prosecco available in the US had only one main attribute for me: it was cheap. There was not much flavor other than an acrid nuttiness that was not really all that appealing at all (at least to me).
I will freely admit that some of my angst directed at Prosecco was my identity as a Champagne snob—Prosecco is made with the Glera grape (at least 85%) and not by the traditional or champagne method, but by the Charmat or Martinotti method, which as a champagne snob, one is required to see as inferior. (The two methods both start with still wine and then a second fermentation is induced [which creates the effervescence]. In Champagne, this happens in the bottle, whereas it occurs in a large tank in Methodo Martinotti.)
A few years into this blog, though, I had a fantastic lunch in New York City with Silvia Franco of Prosecco producer Nino Franco and she introduced me to Prosecco Superiore DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita or Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin). It turned out that the Prosecco for which I had so much disdain was Prosecco DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata or Denomination of Controlled Origin), which comes from the valley floor where the fruit is machine-picked and the wines are made on a massive scale.
Silvia stressed that there is a huge difference between the DOC and DOCG wines, the latter coming from the intensely hilly areas around the two Veneto towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene (there are actually 15 different communes that can use the designation, but that level of minutiae is for another post). The key point to take away? When looking for a higher quality Prosecco, make sure that it is labeled as a DOCG and not simply DOC.
There are two other designations within the Prosecco Superiore DOCG that are of even higher quality: Prosecco Superiore Rive DOCG (which comes from 43 specific villages or vineyards) and Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG (which comes from one specific ridiculously steep hill in Valdobbiadene, which is considered the Grand Cru of Prosecco.
Over the past decade Prosecco has consistently seen double-digit percentage growth in sales (and has seen over 20% growth every year since 2013) and that type of growth is expected to continue in the near future (Wine Industry Advisor).
Much of that growth is attributed to new sparkling wine drinkers whose search for bubbles focused on wines in the $10-20 range, and once those new drinkers get a taste of sparkling wine, they soon are looking for higher quality bubbles to fill their glasses. As a result, this country is seeing an increase in the importation of the higher quality Prosecco Superiore DOCG wines, a few of which I sampled recently.
2019 Le Colture Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG, Italy: Retail $45. 100% Glera. From that most prestigious area within the Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Cartizze, which I mentioned above and is one of the more amazing areas I have ever visited. Extremely steep vineyards within a few kilometers of the Dolomiti, a truly stunning place. A brilliant light straw in the glass with a delicate, yet persistent sparkle. Lovely tree fruit notes, clear minerality, and a sweet croissant element on the nose, but the palate is much more of a green apple, tart, yet still round (due to the rather high RS: 23 g/l) and the sparkle, while present, is understated. A lengthy finish to a lovely wine. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Masottina Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Millesimato Extra Dry Rive Di Ogliano DOCG, Italy: Retail $30. 100% Glera. From one of the celebrated Rive in the Prosecco Superiore DOCG, this has quite a bit of RS (15.4 g/l) but comes off as remarkably dry. A bit of color in the glass, but still decidedly in the “straw” category, with oodles of citrus on the nose: grapefruit and lime predominantly. The palate is quite dry and focused first on the fruit and then the acidity and, as I said, comes off quite dry until the lengthy finish where the sweetness starts to come out. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Marsuret Glera Rive di Guia Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOCG, Italy: Retail $26. 100% Glera. From a vineyard (Guia) with one of the only Northern exposures in the entire appellation, which creates more green notes (celery, basil) in addition to the more usual citrus (lime). Even though this is labeled as Brut, it could be classified as an Extra Brut due to its minimal dosage (4 g/l). As a result, quite a tart wine but still laden with fruit on the palate, again, mostly citric in nature–the lime really explodes. Quite a lovely wine and would be fantastic with a bowl of carbonara. Perfetto. Excellent. 92 Points.
2019 Adami Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Col Credas Rive di Farra di Soligo DOCG Extra Dry, Italy: Retail $24. 100% Glera. From one of the 43 prestigious Rives in the appellation and vinified to the Extra Brut level (4 g/l). More tree fruit (peach and pear) than citrus (but there is some of both lemon and lime) on the nose. The palate is quite dry, really dry, and fantastic. That pear and citrus lead off, followed by a near-searing tartness that coats the mouth and causes gallons of saliva to be produced almost instantly. If there ever was a food-friendly wine, this is it, my friends. Delicious. Outstanding. 93 Points.