If you’ve been following our blog from the start, you’ll know that, like many people, we are partial to a bit of bubbly. In one of our first posts we explained how the current Prosecco craze gripping the nation had not passed us by…
Sweeter and more affordable than its distant French cousin, this quaffable Italian quickly became our new fizzy favourite; particularly as it lends itself well to all manner of bright and cheery cocktails.
With sparkling wines, however, there is a danger in thinking that price is always relative to quality. Having gone through intensive wine tastings at the WSET School in Bermondsey, it became clear that you can get great quality wines cheaply and not all expensive wines are the best quality. For this reason it doesn’t seem particularly fair to compare prosecco with champagne on price alone.
For a start, different grapes are used. You may well have heard talk of the traditional method of making champagne, which involves using a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Prosecco is made using (mainly) Glera grapes which give the wine its more subtle, apple-y flavours.
The production process can also be very different. Champagne is made by adding sugar and yeast to a still wine and then leaving it to ferment in a sealed bottle, which in turn makes it bubbly. This process means that the wine is in contact with dead yeast cells for a lot longer, which gives the wine bready or biscuity flavours. While some prosecco is made in this manner, the majority is made using the tank method, which involves filtering out the yeast and bottling the wine that’s left, under pressure. This process means an absence of those yeasty flavours and a wine that is fruitier and lighter.
The price tag is usually lighter too… which is what probably led to sales of Prosecco outstripping those of champagne in the UK for the first time ever in 2014. However, as with most things, once you scratch under the surface you’ll find a wide variety of wines on offer.
Prosecco is traditionally associated with the Conegliano-Valdobbiadene region of Italy, which received DOCG status in 2009. This means that wines produced in this region have to comply with extremely strict rules surrounding their production and you can therefore expect a high quality product. Of course, you can get other proseccos, from the wider surrounding area and marked DOC, but the rules governing these wines are a lot more relaxed. So, seeing DOCG on a bottle is a good indication of the wine’s quality. Another indication of the wine’s quality is the label “Prosecco Superiore”.
Having had a conversation about the difference between regular prosecco and Prosecco Superiore with our friends at Nino Franco, they kindly sent us a couple of bottles to try the difference for ourselves. The Primo Franco Brut is well matched with light seafood dishes and risotto. It’s crisp and refreshing yet there’s a pleasant creaminess to it. The initial flavours are perhaps unsurprisingly prosecco-esque at first (we got crisp green apple) but then there’s a longer finish than we would have expected which is very pleasant. The Rustico is less zingy and has an altogether rounder body of flavour with floral notes overlaying the usual soft-fruit and apple flavours. Slightly less creamy in texture than the Brut, there’s still good acidity and we can see it as an easy drinking wine; a good aperitif. In the sunshine. With a bowl of strawberries to pick at… Again, there’s a length of finish too that you don’t seem to get with many of the cheaper proseccos in the supermarket.
While DOCG wines carry a higher price than your ‘every day’ prosecco, we’ve come to the conclusion that it’s worth paying a little bit extra for a special occasion prosecco. Furthermore, we’re told that the DOCG proseccos are not likely to run out any time soon… So panic over, people!