Though most wine drinkers of the world know of Prosecco, they do not realize that it went through a crisis around two years ago. With the dwindling economy and drinkers’ realization that Prosecco is a wonderfully light, creamy much lesser expensive alternative to Champagne, Prosecco hit a boom. This, of course, was to the advantage of the region, but also to the advantage of anyone else outside of the region making “˜Prosecco’.
Unlike Champagne, Prosecco was actually the name of the grape. In Italy, there are wines called after the region such as Barolo and Chianti (made with local grapes like Burgundy and Bordeaux), but then there are others called after the grape by which it is produced, such as Barbera, Moscato and Vernaccia, often followed by a village (i.e. Barbara d’Alba, Moscato d’Asti, Vernaccia di San Gimignano). This can be confusing and Prosecco falls into this later category.
Many of its drinkers, however, think that like Champagne or Cava, Prosecco on its own is actually wine from a specified region within Italy rather than a grape variety. More and more people outside of the original Prosecco area (or even Italy such as Australia’s Brown Brothers) have wanted to jump on Prosecco’s coat tails and as a result have begun making a Prosecco of their own. Granted, they most likely do not taste the same, but uninformed drinkers making a quick buy, may not realize it.
For this reason, the people of Prosecco had to think long and hard on how to protect their reputation and their economic interests. They decided to change the name of the grape to “˜Glera’, a historic regional name for the variety. They also delineated the Prosecco growing region – like Champagne – to include a DOCG (the highest quality appellation which had been formerly a DOC) for the villages of Valldobiadene and Conegliano – the two “˜crus’ of the area – and extended the DOC area to include vineyards which were formerly used to make IGT. Anything outside of this specified area must be called “˜Glera’. Like Champagne, these rules only apply to the EU and renegade wine producers outside of the EU can still call their wine “˜Prosecco’ though hopefully most will respect Italy’s long-term history with this grape and its hard work to create its worldwide reputation.
Around the time of these changes, we combed through the region high and low to find a smaller, family-owned Prosecco producer that made delicious wine bottled in attractive packaging (for some reason, this is a difficult combination to find). After many, many tastings, we were unanimous in choosing Bianca Vigna. Amongst ourselves, we have nicknamed it “˜The Krug of Prosecco’ due to its similarly shaped bottle (unplanned on their part). But they really do make some of the best wine in the region. For more information click here.
We recently visited them and were given a tour of the vineyards – an incredibly beautiful part of Italy that is at least 10 times more stunning than Champagne with steep vineyards clutching to the hillsides, most of which need to be harvested and worked by hand.
Though their wines are delicious alone, they would also make a great Bellini, a divine concoction of white peach puree and Prosecco. Watch this space…