I have been writing about Italian sparkling wine for the past week. I have mentioned Trento Doc, Franciacorta DOCG, Alta Langa DOCG, and Lambrusco. Today I want to write about Prosecco. I work with a Prosecco brand, Val D’Oca, and have worked for the Prosecco DOC Consortium in the past so I rarely write about it but I always drink it. I have a bottle of Prosecco in my home at all times. I love the versatility of Prosecco and the easy pairings that I find be it as an aperitivo, with a first course or throughout the whole meal. I love Prosecco with Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Thai cuisine.
Prosecco is the largest selling Italian wine in the US. I believe the last count of how many bottles were sold annually is around 500 million bottles a year. These numbers are shockingly largest. In 2013 I remember doing a presentation for the Consortium and at the time they were selling 350 million bottle a year.
Working with one producer rather than the Consortium, I have learned a lot more specifics about Prosecco. I learned that the traditional style of Prosecco is Extra Dry. This version has up to 17g residual sugar. Extra dry means the wine has 12-17g/L, and Dry can be 17-32g/L. I also learned a lot about the Rive wines, a category of 43 areas. The Rive are part of the Prosecco region where everything is hand picked in extremely difficult conditions at incredibly steep slopes. The producer I work with has 9 Rive in their portfolio although they sell only one of them at this time in the US. Apparently, each Rive expresses the terroir of the area to such a degree that some people collect examples of all of the Rive. I am not that well versed in the Rive to be able to tell the difference but hopefully 2021 will bring more Rive into my life.
The big news in the Prosecco area today is the Rosé category which is now set to take off in the US in the New Year. “Approximately 20 million bottles of the 2019 Prosecco DOC Rosé were produced, with 15-20% distributed in Italy. The balance has begun export to leading foreign markets, such as the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, East Asia, France, and the Nordic countries. There are between 40 and 50 million bottles of the 2020 vintage of Prosecco DOC Rosé in production and set to be released in January of 2021,” according to a press release from the Consortium issued in November.
Prosecco DOC Rosé calls for secondary fermentation for at least 60 days before release. The wine is made with up to 10%-15% Pinot Noir. The remaining portion is Glera, the principal grape of Prosecco. The wines are made by the Martinotti/Charmat Method. There are no still or frizzante versions of the Rosé. The Rosé versions of Prosecco will range from Brut Nature to Extra Dry. There are no sweet versions of the Rosé.
Another big piece of news I learned of during Wine2Wine was that the whole Prosecco DOC region is working towards becoming more green and sustainable. The whole denomination is looking to have the area be certified sustainable in terms of respecting certain norms for water, air and the soil as well as reaching certain economic and social sustainability parameters. They are working to have at least 60% of the entire DOC area certified. The project is called PRO.S.E.C.CO.
To speak about Prosecco however we must also mention the most prestigious denominations such as the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG and Cartizze DOCG. Cartizze is only 107 hectares, it is basically one hill. The production area of Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG covers 15 communes and represents the heart of the Prosecco world. I could write a very long post on these other denominations and I think I will in 2021.
Another newly minted version of Prosecco is sui lieviti or sur lie. This is a historic and traditional version but until recently it wasn’t including in the governing rules or disciplinare. It was previously called Col Fondo. Fermentation takes place in the bottle in the ancestral method and the resulting wine is usually cloudy and Brut Nature. This version shows less fruit and more yeasty notes than other Prosecco.
Asolo is a separate Prosecco denomination which I will mention on another day.
For today, this New Year, I just want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. I’ll have Prosecco in my glass along with something else for the second course. I toast to you and yours. I hope 2021 will bring all good things to everyone, health above all and joy.