Prosecco is vibrant and classy, says MARY-THERESE BLAIR, so let’s party.
WHAT STARTED AS international non-méthode sparkling tasting became a prosecco whitewash. Hardly surprising as in recent years this northern Italian sparkling has taken the world by storm. Between 2008 and 2018 prosecco production quadrupled from 150 million to 600 million bottles annually. Prosecco is lower in alcohol, light, crisp and fruit-forward, comes in a range of sweetness levels and is available at an affordable price point – it’s not hard to see the appeal.Prosecco’s affordable price point is as a result of its production using the tank method. Base wine is fermented again in large tanks before being bottled. No secondary fermentation in bottle means none of the many labour-intensive, time-consuming winemaking steps that come with it, therefore prosecco can be on shelves within months of production. Expect more prosecco in the next sparkling issue and given that the Prosecco DOC Consortium has approved the blending of pinot noir with traditional glera grapes to make a rosé prosecco, you can expect to see them blush.
TASTING PANEL Ben Glover, owner and head winemaker for Zephyr Wines in Marlborough and internationally regarded wine judge, led this panel and was joined by two experienced wine professionals. Liz Wheadon is the general manager of Glengarry wines and an experienced wine taster and Chloe Somerset is winemaker and vineyard manager at Cable Bay Vineyards, Waiheke Island.
CONSIDERING THE international popularity of prosecco is a relatively new phenomenon it can be easy to forget that it has been made for generations in northern Italy. Our top prosecco is a DOC from Chiarano, a town in the Treviso region of Veneto. The family has grown grapes in their 33 hectares of vineyards at Chiarano since 1940. The company is managed by four cousins who used to play in the vineyards as children but now each play their part in running the business. The glera grapes for this prosecco are grown in clay soils and after harvest the freshly picked grapes were de-stemmed and pressed before initial fermentation to make the base wine. The second fermentation, which makes the wine sparkling, took place in a sealed pressure-resistant tank – this is known as the charmat method – for 30 days before being filtered and bottled. On the nose this wine has a wonderfully clean green apple with a hint of yellow lemonade-lime character which provides youthful vibrancy. This citrus follows through to the palate with almost muscat-like characteristics and endearing phenolics that provide juiciness and poise surrounded by sweet approachable fruit. This prosecco has been skillfully put together with a beautiful persistent mouthfeel and bright acid coming together to create a fully charged, well-balanced wine. Made from 100% traditional glera grapes this prosecco is extra dry with 14 grams of residual sugar, so serves well as a light aperitif or would mix well as an element within a cocktail. Exceptional value for money. Not a wine to keep or cellar but to enjoy now, well chilled. (B)
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A really classy example with bright lemon curd, crisp green apple and …3
A long, elegant style of prosecco with a salty texture and an …4