The month-long purge of my pile of sparkling samples continues today with a few bottles of Prosecco, from the Veneto region of northern Italy. As I have mentioned several times in this space, all Prosecco is not the same and that goes beyond stylistic differences between producers.
There is a rather significant difference in quality that one can detect before even purchasing (or opening) a bottle of perhaps Italy’s most well-known sparkling wine. If you look closely the label of a bottle of Prosecco, it will indicate that it is either “D.O.C.” or “D.O.C.G.”
The first, D.O.C., (Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is a wine that, generally speaking, comes from grapes that were machine-harvested along the valley floor. These wines tend to be less expensive ($15/bottle or under) and can usually be found in grocery stores or large wine shops. This week, I tasted two such wines, one you have likely seen, the other, perhaps not.
NV La Marca Prosecco D.O.C., Italy: Retail $16. 100% Glera. The light blue label of La Marca Prosecco is ubiquitous–you can find it just about anywhere. And while that is not necessarily a *good* thing, it is not inherently bad, either, but seeing as I am generally not a huge fan of the wines from the mass-farmed Prosecco DOC, well, let’s just say I tried to keep an open mind. Glad I did. A slightly yellow pale straw (darker than most Prosechi I have tried recently), La Marca has a sweet, tropical fruit nose (pineapple, citrus) with notes of white flower and a flinty, almost medicinal aspect. While it is not labeled as such, I would guess this is an Extra Dry, which is sweeter than a traditional Brut as the sugar hits the tongue first. It is followed by a fairly intense tartness which tries its darndest to balance out the sweetness. In all, a fairly good sparkler for the price (it sells for around 12 bucks in most grocery stores). Very Good. 87 Points.
NV Earl Stevens Selections Prosecco D.O.C., Italy: Retail $16. 100% Glera? Information on this wine was virtually non-existent online. Earl Stevens is a hip-hop artist (better known as E-40, which, being tragically white, did not help me at all) who recently started his own wine brand. As far as this Prosecco, some websites list it as a wine from California, but its DOC designation indicates that it has to be from the Veneto in Italy. Other than that? I assume it’s 100% Glera but I could not even confirm that. The wine itself is actually pretty good for a DOC Prosecco, with a pale color, tropical, nutty aromas and flavors, and surprisingly dry. I hesitate to rate a wine that I know so little about, but for $15 (average retail)? It is a pretty decent buy. Very Good. 88 Points.
The next six wines come from the Prosecco Superiore D.O.C.G. (Vino a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) side of the ledger. The fruit for these wines come from the extremely hilly region around the towns of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, are all hand farmed and harvested, tend to be a bit more expensive ($18-40), and are harder to find since the production is much smaller. But, without a doubt in my mind, are certainly “worth it.”
NV Adami Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Bosco di Gica D.O.C.G., Italy: Retail $20. 95-97% Glera and 3-5% Chardonnay. 9 grams/liter dosage. We are back in the DOCG again with another wine from the broader Prosecco Superiore appellation. Bosco di Gica is the historical name for the site, which has been inhabited/farmed for over 600 years. Pale straw in the glass with green apple and peach predominate on the nose (along with a refreshing vein of minerality). The palate is particularly delightful: Tart, perky, fruity, deep. With every additional bottle of Prosecco DOCG that I try, I only become more convinced that the wines are worth the extra tariff (particularly when compared to the DOC Valley wines). Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Andreola Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Col del Forno Rive del Refrontolo D.O.C.G., Italy: Retail $22. 100% Glera. This wine comes from one of the 43 classified Rive in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. What does that mean? Well, in short, the Rive are almost at the top of the Prosecco quality pyramid. This wine comes from the Rive del Refrontolo, which is in the Valdobbiadene half of the appellation. Pale straw in the glass with green apple, sweet peach, and pear on the nose. The palate, however, while fruity, is nearly completely dry (7 grams/liter) with ripe fruit flavors, a vibrant tartness, and lingering minerality. This is not what most people see as Prosecco, this is fantastic. Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Le Colture Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Fagher Brut D.O.C.G., Italy: Retail $19. 100% Glera. Dosage: 9 grams/liter. While this wine does not come one of the 43 Rive it *is* from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG, part of the Prosecco Superiore DOCG appellation. Yeah, it can be confusing even if you speak Italian (which I don’t, but it sounded good). Pale straw in the glass with fresh pear, green apple, and a fresh herbal aspect (mint? dill?). The palate is tart, but far from bracing, with slight elements of sweetness initially, there is a vibrant sparkle, plenty of fruit, along with mineral and floral aspects. Very nice. Excellent. 90 Points.
NV Sommariva Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut D.O.C.G., Italy: Retail $20. 100% Glera. Another wine from the more over-arching “Prosecco Superiore” designation, this wine is imported by Kermit Lynch, perhaps one of the best indications of quality one can see on a foreign-produced bottle. Pale straw with a vibrant sparkle with white peach, acacia blossom, minerality, and a distinct freshness. The palate is tart but also quite fruity, with just a subtle hint of sweetness. Another fantastic example of the quality and value associated with the Prosecco DOCG wines. Excellent. 91 Points.
2019 Trevisiol Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry Rive di Collalto D.O.C.G., Italy: Retail $18. 100% Glera. Extra Dry (~18 grams/liter). Another wine from one of the Rive in Prosecco Superiore appellation, this one from the Valdobbiadene half of the region. Pale straw in the glass with a decidedly nutty/flinty nose allowing very little fruit to express itself fully. The palate is initially on the sweet side, with eventually a bright tartness coming through along with an active sparkle and layers of depth and intrigue. But all that goodness remains hidden a bit behind that sweetness. I would love to try this wine with say, half the dosage? Still, Excellent. 92 Points.
NV Valdo Spumanti Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Cuvée 1926 D.O.C.G., Italy: Retail $20. 90% Glera, 10% Chardonnay. Another of the DOCG gems from the Prosecco Superiore appellation, this Cuvée 1926 is named after the founding year of the winery in Valdobbiadene. Pale straw with a yellow tint in the glass and aromas of fresh pear, peach, and green apple. The palate is initially a shade sweet, and at 16 grams of sugar per liter (dosage), that is understandable. But it works. There is plenty of fruit and tartness to go around, carried so effortlessly on the vibrant sparkle. Another lovely DOCG. Excellent. 90 Points.