A raised glass of Prosecco is ubiquitous with celebration, so we enrolled the entire Italia! team for this wine review…
For this Drink Italia! we?ve gathered together a selection of Prosecco wines to enjoy and to deliver you our verdict. And in a break with tradition, we?ve opened up the tasting to the entire Italia! team (rather than trusting the palate of regular wine writer Paul Pettengale), so you?ll be getting our collective opinions. You can?t celebrate alone, after all.
Prosecco has gained in popularity enormously over the past five to ten years, replacing Cava as a go-to alternative to Champagne. It?s lighter than either its Spanish or French rivals, less acidic and easier to drink as a lunchtime tipple or early evening aperitif. It also mixes well to make inexpensive cocktails, and is now readily available both in supermarkets and in bars and pubs by the glass. Plus, it?s fairly low in alcohol, so you can have a glass without feeling too much of an effect.
The best Prosecco comes from the Veneto region, especially from the villages of Valdobbiadene and nearby Conegliano ? about 30km north of Treviso, where the steep hills bleed into the mountains of the northeastern stretch of the Alps. Although they?re more expensive than those wines made lower down, towards the sea, the quality more than makes up for a few extra pounds or dollars. They tend to have a tighter, more vigorous mousse (small, fast-moving bubbles) and a cleaner, crisp flavour of orchard fruit. So, turn the page and find out what the Italia! team thinks of their 100th-issue celebratory Prosecco wines. And then buy a bottle or two yourselves, and raise a glass to the next hundred issues.
Italia! discovery of the month
From Berkmann Wines
This Prosecco was unanimously adored by the taste test panel, so there was no hesitation when it came to selecting our Discovery of the Month. This mid-range bottle has a delicate nose with floral, violet tones that opens out into a well-balanced honey on the palate that doesn?t linger too long. Unlike some others tested here, the effervescence in the mouth is subtle and not too biting ? this is reflected in the delicate mousse you see rising in the glass. This makes it a great choice for wedding toasts ? the elegant stream of tiny bubbles rising through the pale hay-coloured wine is pretty as a picture, and shows its quality by lingering at the top of the wine, too.
As well as honey on the palate, it brings delicate citrus mixed with ripe plum and apricot, followed by a satisfying dry finish that?s pleasingly complex. We could have finished the whole bottle. This Brut oozes sophistication, both with the understated bottle and joyful Prosecco inside. Even if you are not getting married, we suggest you still try a celebratory case.
From Liberty Wines
This is the only Prosecco reviewed here that comes with a screw top, which does somehow take away from the ceremony of celebration. But don?t judge a book by its cover: the Prosecco inside is good, with a delicate but abundant mousse and a hint of yeast on the nose. In the mouth it brings refreshing sweet citrus, with a strong leader of lime, which follows with a soft minerality to refresh the palate.
Serve it with olives to good friends as a fine evening aperitivo.
From Marks & Spencer
Sparkling wines from M&S have a reputation for being a bit hit and miss, but for the price, this DOC-approved Prosecco from winemaker Alberto Fabretti is a big hitter. It?s very soft on the tongue with a super-subtle mousse that, sadly, doesn?t linger at the top of the glass. Flavour-wise it is very dry and crisp with aromas of caramelised squash and a very long finish with lingering sandalwood.
A powerful, salty cheese ? Parmesan or Pecorino would work well.
Despite being the cheapest Prosecco tasted, this offering from Sainsbury?s Taste the Difference range delighted the panel with a pleasing degree of minerality and a toasted almond flavour that you often see in Champagne. It has a nice balance of subtle sweetness against its clarity too; a pleasing juxtaposition between Granny Smith and the light acetone of pear drops. It?s a real crowd-pleaser of a bottle, and has the price to match.
Dolce ? try it with panettone, biscotti and other pastries.
From Sussex Wine Company
This bottle, which arrives in orange cellophane to protect the contents, caused confusion ? can it be reviewed as Prosecco? With 100 per cent Glera grape, it can. These come from old vines that produce a delicate straw-hued wine. The silky mousse with sage and bitter lemon invigorated the palate. Very different, due to its low sugar content making it dry and crisp. This also makes it a great keeper, one of the few Proseccos that will age well.
This subtle dry wine is the perfect partner for oysters and shellfish.
From Great Western Wine
This is a rather understated Prosecco on the nose that doesn?t give much away. Sipping it reveals a strong zing of citrus on the palate with subtle notes of melon and orange in the mix too ? intriguing. In the mouth this is like a burst of sherbet with an intense citrus reminiscent of Moroccan preserved lemons. The finish is long and herbaceous, with thyme and subtle coriander. Delicious. Why not buy a case?
This has enough going on that it would work well with fish like salmon.
From Majestic Wine
Expect a real sparker from this Prosecco with a very dry, acidic character. It?s all apples on the roof of the mouth, with aromas of cider in the mix and an acidic attack that would partner well with creamy pasta dishes, despite being medium-bodied. It has a very fizzy, sherbetty finish, reflected in the enthusiastic large bubbles of the mousse. We found this led to some copious burping, so perhaps this delicious Prosecco is best enjoyed en famille.
The bright flavour would work well to cut through a heavy, creamy Carbonara.
Last hurrah for Harry’s
News broke in late December 2012 that Harry?s Bar, the iconic cafe? in the heart of Venice?s St Mark?s Square, has gone into administration. Although the Cipriani family, which founded and has owned the bar since its establishment in 1931, has effectively been given notice by its banks, there?s hope that a buyer can be found to revive the fortunes of one of the most famous bars in the world. One of its claims to fame? The invention of the Bellini cocktail, named after the 15th-century Venetian artist, incorporating Prosecco, white peach pulp and a touch of sugar. Should the worst happen and Harry?s close ? however doubtful that may seem ? then there?s always the option of creating your own Bellini at home. The important aspect of this cocktail is chilling the components right down. Pour one measure of very cold white peach juice (or strained pulp) into a tall glass and top up with three measures of quality Prosecco. Add a touch of sugar to taste if necessary, and serve.