It’s not a secret and I challenge anyone in the wine industry to disagree: bubbles are hot. I do not have the numbers to support the following contention but over the last decade, it seems like no other segment of the wine industry has seen as much growth as sparkling wine (and if you dare bring up “natural wines” I will hunt you down).
While I anticipate at least some debate over that first paragraph (other than the parenthetical–I like to consider myself quite the tree hugger, but the whole “natural wine” “Movement” is even too much for me), one can not dispute that: 1. Champagne has increased its area; 2. Prosecco has increased its area even more; and 3. All regions, particularly in California and Oregon in this country, have seen an increase in sparkling wine production.
And there is a good reason for this, which is embodied in my personal motto:
If it doesn’t sparkle, it doesn’t matter.
Those are words to live by, period. I have stated countless times in this space that sparkling wines are the most versatile of all wines. By. Far. Apéritif? Check. Appetizer? Check. Main Course? By the pool? With dessert? On a desert island? Watching the Eagles win the Super Bowl? Check. Check. Check. Check. And fingers crossed.
Thus, when I was asked if I would like to sample a few Prosecco rosés, I enthusiastically accepted. As I mentioned above, the production of Prosecco has exploded in the last decade. In 2008, the region produced around 150 million bottles. In 2021? That number had skyrocketed to 627.5 million bottles, a more than 400% increase in 15 years.
It seems as though the rosé category might be on a similar or even more meteoric path. In 2020, the first year Prosecco rosé was allowed to be sold, 16.8 million bottles were produced. The Prosecco DOC Consortio expected around 40-50 million bottles of rosé in 2021–it ended up being 71.5 million, a 425% increase over the previous year.
In this space, I have lambasted the dramatic increase in Prosecco production, which, at least in my opinion, has resulted in, quite frankly, a lot of bad Prosecco coming out of the DOC. (Here, I must point out that the wines under the DOCG regulations, which are much more stringent, are only getting better.) But, at least thus far, it seems as though the rosé wines from the DOC (rosé is not permitted under the DOCG, at least not yet) are of higher quality, generally.
Why? There are a couple of reasons. First, the rosés are required to undergo a longer (and therefore slower) fermentation of 60 days (as compared to 30 days for the non-rosé Proseccos), which usually results in a more complex wine. Second, Prosecco rosé is required to be vintage-dated with at least 85% of the grapes coming from the indicated vintage. While this is not necessarily an indication of quality, it does limit the amount of potential manipulation of the wine, which usually results in a better product.
Last, the regulations limit the blend to two grapes: Glera, the traditional Prosecco variety has to be at least 85% of the blend, and Pinot Nero is the only variety allowed to add the distinctive color to the wine.
I imagine the category will continue to see incredible growth since the wines are quite good and I don’t see people giving up their pink bubbles anytime soon.
2020 Azienda Agricola Corvezzo Prosecco Rosé, Veneto, Italy: Retail $13. Glera and Pinot Nero. “Organic & Vegan.” While rosé Prosecco is relatively new to the wine-tasting world, many (including me) are not strangers to the Corvezzo brand. This is the second iteration of the rosé, I believe, and although I did not taste the 2019, this 2020 is a fabulous effort. Citrus (mostly lime) and floral notes dominate the nose (along with a cleansing mineral aspect), but the palate is more red fruit in nature. Yes, that mineral aspect persists–a bit of a wet rock vibe in the mouth, with a spunky sparkle and a lengthy finish. A tad sweeter than I think it needs to be, but this is fabulous. Excellent. 90 Points.
2020 La Gioiosa Et Amorosa Prosecco Rosé Millesimato, Prosecco di Treviso, Veneto, Italy: Retail $16. Glera e Pinot Nero. While I do have some familiarity with the La Gioiosa brand, this is only the second rosé from the producer I have tried (and that they have produced, so I am not that far out of the loop, I guess). The first iteration of this wine was wonderful as is this slightly younger sibling. Fairly light in the glass with aromas of under-ripe strawberry, bright cherry, and a touch of minerality. The palate is quite tart and lovely, with great fruit, a sprite acidity, and a lengthy finish. Yum. Excellent. 90 Points.
2020 Perlino Prosecco Extra-Dry, Veneto, Italy: Retail $16? I searched, but I could not find any information about this wine online. I imagine it is close to 90% Glera with 10% Pinot Nero for the color. This is the second vintage that rosé Prosecco has been allowed, and this Perlino is a lot of fun. A cotton candy pink in the glass with red fruit and white flower, the palate is certainly fruity, with a hint of sweetness, and an overall nice balance. For the price? A solid effort. Very Good. 88 Points.
2020 Villa Sandi Prosecco Il Fresco Millesimato Brut Rosé, Veneto, Italy: Retail $20. “Glera e Pinot Nero.” I have had many (most?) of the numerous wines produced by Villa Sandi at this point, but this is the first rosé. In my defense, this is only the second vintage of rosé Prosecco at this point, so I choose not to be too hard on myself for missing the first vintage (2019). By law (at least to this point), rosé Prosecco has to be vintage-dated, but can only be produced under the less stringent and less prestigious DOC classification. Good fruit here on both the nose and the palate, but there is definitely some sweetness here that detracts, at least in my book. Still, for under twenty bucks, this is a fine effort. Very Good. 87 Points.