November 2, 2017
Prosecco. The down to earth, unassuming cousin of the more distinguished and refined Champagne. I love it – and if sales at La Vigna are anything to go by, so does everyone else. We have been through the era of glitz and glamour, of keeping up appearances and sacrificing our opinions for the bittersweet gift of public approval, but times have changed. The world wants good, easy to drink wine and Prosecco fits the bill.
The world’s current love affair with all things Italian helps. A few years back, French themed parties were all the go; prints of the Eifel tower became sought after décor and French restaurants were the hip place to meet. Then came the Spanish era, thank goodness, the world needed Churros! and now, it’s Italy.
If only I had a dollar for every time a customer asked, “Do you have Aperol?” Almost invariably, this question leads to an exciting conversation about a recent trip to Italy, or a friend’s trip. I know all too well, after returning from Venice, it’s difficult to pass a sunny afternoon without recalling the bliss of sipping an Aperol Spritz by the canals. The exquisite citrus freshness of Aperol, paired with the light crisp bubbles of Prosecco is simply delicious, and thankfully, is just as fun to drink in Perth.
While the world is enjoying more and more Prosecco, a bitter ‘custody’ battle rages between Italy and the non-European nations. The name Prosecco once referred to the grape variety used in the production of Prosecco, but due to a change in regulations in 2009, the grapes used to make Prosecco are now referred to as Glera throughout Europe. The name Prosecco is reserved for wine exclusively produced in the region of Prosecco and only these wines may bear the assurance of quality, DOC or DOCG. In 2013 Australia fought and won the right to continue marketing their wine as Prosecco although export to Europe under that name is forbidden. But, the Italians are not happy and continue to dispute these findings, calling Australian producers ‘imposters’ and threatening free trade agreements between Europe and Australia. Japan, Mexico and the US are also facing Italy’s wrath and while many of us sip with carefree abandon, the big wine bodies continue the fight to keep ‘Prosecco’ on their shores.
After visiting the gorgeous Prosecco region of Italy, it is easy to understand Italy’s attempt to protect the identity of their iconic wine. The picturesque region of Prosecco, north of Venice, covers a wide area, with diverse growing conditions. Much of the area is home to small yielding vineyards, several that still hand-pick their grapes, and it is these small vineyards that produce some of the finer Prosecco; subtle yet crisp, with delicate notes of apple, peach and pistachio.
I was fortunate to visit the Vignarosa Estate in July, set amongst the rolling hills of Colle Umberto near Conegliano, north of Venice. Grapes grown in such a breathtaking environment can’t help but make delicious wine! Have you seen the photograph on our Facebook page? Vignarosa is in the DOC area and produces fine Prosecco that we are fortunate to stock at La Vigna.
The subtle freshness of Prosecco makes it remarkably versatile; equally delicious as an aperitif, with snacks, throughout a meal and beyond. It is the main ingredient in the hugely popular Aperol Spritz and Bellini cocktail and can secretly replace Champagne in many others. In fact, Prosecco’s honest good value and unassuming nature has earned it many invitations to wedding toasts at the deliberate expense of Champagne.
Sorry Champagne, but there it is – Prosecco is light, fresh, and delicious. It breaks through class barriers and is unchallenged by pomp and show. The bottom line – Prosecco is inexpensive, good wine, so we can drink more, more often.