Dear thebestofchester Members,
Most of you will at some point or other have come across Prosecco, the light and crisp Italian sparkling wine that originates from the hills just north of Venice and Treviso in North Eastern Italy – or at least that is where it should come from.
As you may not have noted, Prosecco is not only the name given to the wine but also the name of the grape that produces it. Generally, it is considered to be a neutral grape, its use best suited to the production of moderately priced sparkling wine which fairs best in the northern regions of Italy. Crucially though, one of the consequences of naming Prosecco after the grape was that anyone who wanted to grow the Prosecco grape could legally produce and bottle Prosecco sparkling wine, anywhere in the world.
Now things are changing and rightly so. As the popularity of this very iconic Italian sparkler grows it was becoming increasingly likely that others would look to capitalise on the popularity of the name and release Prosecco from untraditional areas not necessarily associated with quality.
Australian company Brown Brothers have already released a Prosecco onto the market and unless things changed it was only a matter of time before mass produced examples spoilt the well earned reputation that quality focused producers had worked hard to achieve.
The Italian authorities have now moved to protect their wine and the integrity of the classic production zone by pushing through both a name change for the Prosecco grape and a promotion of former DOC vineyard zones to DOCG. As of this year’s harvest the grape Prosecco is to be renamed ‘Glera’, the ancient name for the variety while the three former zones that carried the DOC status; Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Prosecco di Conegliano and Prosecco di Valdobbiadene are to be reclassified as DOCG, the highest statement of quality in Italy.
As a result this actually promotes some vineyard area which was previously only suitable for IGT production into the left behind DOC category. Very cleverly this move protects the Prosecco identity in the Veneto within the EU while at the same time subtly increasing the perceived quality through its new classification as well as effectively increasing DOC production.
Prosecco is made using the Charmat technique of sparkling wine production where a second fermentation of the base wine takes place in stainless steel tanks as opposed to in the bottle, a technique used religiously in Champagne.
The reasons for this are numerous although two in particular immediately come to mind. Firstly, the Prosecco grape or Glera as it is now known is at its best when a fresh and crisp wine is produced which looks to utilise the young fruity character of the grape rather than searching out bread and yeasty flavours which are the hallmark of good Champagne. Secondly the cost of instigating secondary fermentation of the wine in stainless steel is considerably lower than the practise would be should in take place in bottle. Consequently the price of most Prosecco wine is far more accessible and offers good value for money.
Cantina Caputo carry a number of different recommended Prosecco, all of which have their own peculiarities. One however does stand out as having the perfect equilibrium between quality wine and value for money. The Prosecco extra brut by Cantina Beato Bartolomeo (pictured) is one of my favourite wines. It is a relaxingly pale straw colour, displaying an intense nose of golden delicious apples, pear and floral notes of rose petal. On the palate this wine is crisp with an almond aftertaste. At just £9.99 it is fantastic value and certainly worth filling the cellar with.
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