A very long overdue post, from a fantastic day of tasting which was all very secret, fun and exciting. I was very privileged to be invited to Andrew’s Really Secret Event code-named #ARSE (tee hee) where even the venue was not disclosed. We met at Camino’s in Kings Cross and were walked to a special venue near Green Park which turned out to be the Naval Club, complete with its own Gun Room!
We were brought together for a tasting of a special range of Proseccos.
Now I am a big fan of sparkling wine and more than a regular consumer. I’ve watched with interest what has been happening with Prosecco, how it has managed to carve a niche for itself outside of the traditional Champagne celebration occasion and is wrapped up in the stylish, premium sexy nature of Italy. I’ve also worried a little about the number of cheap low quality Proseccos flooding the market and the potential damage this could do to the category.
So, a bit of background to start, Prosecco is both a grape variety native to the Veneto region in North East Italy and the name of a wine made from it.
Virtually all Prosecco is grown in the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano zones north of Venice, or in the Colli Euganei, outside of Padua.
It is a variety that ripens late and according to my new favourite wine book Oz Clarke & Margaret Rand’s Grapes & Wines it was ‘this late ripening that gave rise to the spumante tradition, as the fermentation tended to stop in the autumn leaving some carbon dioxide and some residual sugar in the wine, which would begin to ferment again in the spring’.
Most of the wine today is made by the Charmat method and second fermentation takes place in a sealed tank rather than in a bottle, which is not as costly as the Champagne method and means the wines retain the fresh fruit flavours of the grape rather than developing complex, autolytic yeasty aromas.
The DOCG is Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene which covers 4,300 hectares and shares approximately 5,000 producers.
One of these producers is the Fornasier family, the owners of Riccardo, a niche forward-thinking producer.
They are really pushing the quality message and trying to raise standards, something I definitely applaud as I would much rather drink a premium quality sparkling wine than a cheap champagne any day of the week.
All of their wines can be traced from vineyard to bottle, a mark of transparency and commitment to quality. Each bottle has a special neck tag where if you type in your bottle number, vintage and lot number and can see where your wine has come from.
The Food Chain Traceability Standard applies to the entire process, from cultivation to labelling, and maps and documents the wine’s history.
The wines themselves are fantastic; I have honestly not tasted Proseccos so good, ever! My favourite was the Riccardo Prosecco Cartizze which was in a word ‘devine’.
Its grapes come from Cartizze a 1,000 foot high hill of 260 acres owned by 190 producers and is widely considered to be of the highest quality. A hectare of Cartizze grape land is estimated to be worth in excess of 1 million US$, much more than the Brunello di Montalcino.
Because of its altitude, Cartizze is cooler than the rest of the zone and produces of one million bottles of very fine Prosecco.
Riccardo produces three sparkling Proseccos and a still Prosecco I have yet to try.
“Riccardo” Cartizze Prosecco Superiore di Valdobbiadene DOCG Spumante Dry
“Riccardo” Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry
“Riccardo” Prosecco di Treviso DOC Spumante Brut
“Riccardo” Prosecco di Treviso DOC Vino Tranquillo
The wines are marketed by a very clever and engaging chap Riccardo Tomadin, no relation to the Prosecco, who has turned to social media channels to create buzz and excitement around this great product with much success. I hope to see more of it on shop shelves very soon.
Check out www.prosecco.com for more details.
I arrived back in Madrid, Spain last weekend after four long months away. I’ve collected a lot of stories on my travels