Writing about sparkling wine just after New Years seems a little like missing the boat. But given the amount of attention paid to Champagne and, to a lesser extent, Prosecco (not to mention American sparkling wines) in the weeks leading up to New Years, maybe waiting a little makes sense. After all, these are wines that are meant for any occasion, not just the big ones.
Italy produces many sparkling wines, red and white – over 100 DOCs allow for sparkling wine to be produced, which some people have pointed out makes it hard for Italian producers to present a unified image to consumers of what can be expected from a specific region. However, for most people, Italian sparkling wine means Prosecco. Prosecco is known to most Americans as a poor-man’s Champagne and in the last decade or so it’s popularity has grown tremendously. In Italy Prosecco has fairly humble roots; it was originally much sweeter than what we see today and usually drank in and around the Veneto region that where it’s from. It was often served (and sometimes still is) with peach puree in Bellini cocktails and even came in cans in some cases. Over the years techniques improved and demand rose, resulting in the quality of the wine growing as well. For a long time most Prosecco was sold under a fairly generic IGT status, with pretty loose regulations. In 2009, however, that IGT was done away with and a new DOC was created, the Prosecco DOC. Prosecco is one of the few wines in Italy that is made from grapes of the same name, the Prosecco grape, which is native to the Veneto region. The Prosecco grape has also gone by a second name locally, an old regional synonym: Glera. To prevent confusion between the new DOC and the grape, the officially recognized name for the grape that produces Prosecco is now Glera, though people will still often refer to it as Prosecco.
In addition to the primary Prosecco DOC, there are a handful of other wine regions where Glera-based sparkling wines are produced. This wine comes from one of those other regions, the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG (this region is also labeled as Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG, Conegliano Prosecco DOCG, or Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG – it’s all the same region). These wines are, by reputation at least, the finest of Prosecco wines, a step up from most of what is found in the Prosecco DOC. They are produced from grapes grown on the hills surrounding the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, as the name suggests. This region has existed since 1969, when it was first introduced as a DOC, and was “promoted” to a DOCG at the same time as the Prosecco DOC was created. Just about all wines from this region are spumante (Italian for sparkling), though frizzante and still wines are also allowed. All wines must be made from at least 85% Glera.
This wine is from the producer Sommariva. It is a non-vintage wine, which is common for Prosecco just as it is common for Champagne. The wine has a pale, straw-yellow color to it – very light. The notes has some slight floral notes and nice, sweet fruit notes, with some citrus and McIntosh apple to it. It is very light on the palate, as you’d expect, with lots of bounce. The palate has a nice, crisp, acidity to it, with notes of pear, green apply, and other fruits. It has a nice aftertaste, with a little bitterness to it.