I helped out at an event devoted to Prosecco last week. DOC Prosecco is experiencing a steady growth in sales in Europe with 40,200,000 bottles of 2006 sparkling Prosecco DOC sold to date. This was the first major tasting in the UK for 32 of the most important producers all from the DOC area of Conegliano Valdobbiadene. It was also an opportunity for a bit of education as the DOC Prosecco Consortium, the producers trade body, recognise that education is the key factor to increasing the understanding and acceptance of the product in the UK.

prosecco-region.JPGDOC Prosecco is Italy’s most famous sparkling wine and is produced in the province of Treviso, in the northeast of Italy, between Venice and the Dolomites. The vines are grown on the south facing slopes of the hills at an altitude of 50-500 metres with the steep slopes making it hard to mechanically harvest the grapes. Consequently managing the vineyards has almost always been left in the hands of the 5,000 producers, most of whom are small growers.

Prosecco itself is the name of the wine and the grape. (Oh, if only all labels could be this easy to decipher!) It’s an elegant wine with fruity and sometimes floral aromas and is sometimes blended with other local varieties called Verdiso, Perera and Bianchetta to a maximum of 15%. This means that along with differences in terroir, there are subtle differences between what could otherwise be similar wines. There are 3 different styles depending upon residual sugar levels these being brut, extra dry and dry. There is also a Grand Cru called “Cartizze.”

prosecco-grape.JPGPeter McCombie MW ran the seminar and talked about the production zone, grapes, production regulations and food matching amongst other topics. Alongside were Wine Intelligence who had some interesting statistics for the UK market. 1 in 5 regular UK wine drinkers have heard of Prosecco with half of those who have heard of it having had a bottle of it in the last 6 months. This shows to me that Prosecco is a bit of a secret but, to those who have discovered it, they have realised how good it is, especially in the value for money stakes. However only 1 in 10 of the people who have drunk sparkling wine in the last 6 months have chosen Prosecco so there is much room for growth in the UK market.

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