WORDS BY STEPHANIE AIKINS
Pasta, pizza, parmigiano cheese… Italy has instilled in Australian food culture some pretty amazing products over the years, but none have seen growth like prosecco. This year alone, IRI reported an incredible 62.7% growth in prosecco (MAT 05/11/17). With this trajectory looking to continue into the foreseeable future, Drinks World looks into the origins of prosecco, how it is produced and its expansion in Australia.
The glera grape, the variety from which prosecco is made, derives from the northeast Italian provinces of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia, near Treviso. Although the name ‘prosecco’ actually comes from a village near Trieste, it is these regions that produce DOC prosecco (controlled designation of origin). Within this region, the majority of vines are grown on the rolling hills of the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, north of Treviso. Because of the terrain of the area, most of the 20,000 hectares of glera under vine are farmed through handpicking.
METHOD AND TASTE
What separates prosecco from other sparkling styles, such as Champagne, is the method in which it is made. The wine is second fermented in pressurised steel tanks before clarification and cooling in a process known as ‘Charmat’. This method eschews the processes of fermentation, riddling and disgorgement inside the individual bottle, as occurs in Methode Champenoise. As such, the technique is incredibly efficient, requiring lesser resources whilst affording the winemaker greater control over the product on a larger scale.
The resulting prosecco wines produced through this method are commonly light, fresh and fruity. Most present a pale lemon colour, with flavours of white peach, white pear, apple and citrus fruits. This wine style is soft on acidity and regularly has a creamy, smooth mouthfeel. Prosecco can be either spumante (fully sparkling) or frizzante (lightly sparkling), and ranges from very dry to semi-sweet.
Its popularity is often attributed to the relatively low alcohol content of the wine and its ability to be enjoyed in cocktails such as spritzs and bellinis.
PROSECCO IN AUSTRALIA
It was in the 1960s that the first prosecco grapes were cultivated in Australia. From the 1940s onwards, waves of Italian migrants arrived in the King Valley to work on Chinese run tobacco farms. One such migrant was Otto Dal Zotto, born in the Valdobbiadene region. As tobacco farming began to decline, Otto, and many other Italian workers, saw the opportunity to foster an emerging wine industry. Many planted classic Italian varietals, yet it was Otto who first got the idea to plant glera grapes.
The King Valley has now become synonymous with Australian prosecco, to the extent that the stretch of road from Milawa’s Brown Brothers to Chrismont in Cheshunt is commonly known as ‘Prosecco Road’. The wineries along this road, Dal Zotto Wines, Pizzini Wines, Sam Miranda Wines, and the aforementioned two, are some of the best wineries in the region and are all famous for their production of the sparkling varietal.
Nowadays, a number of other cool climate regions across Australia are making prosecco wines. The Adelaide Hills’ Coriole, Innocent Bystander from the Yarra Valley and Tempus Two’s Adelaide Hills vineyard are just a few of the leading wineries outside of The King Valley producing prosecco.
Below we’ve selected some of our favourite proseccos to stock in your bar and to add to the popular spritz cocktail:
2017 Coppabella Single Vineyard Prosecco RRP: $26
NV Sentio Prosecco Brut D.O.C RRP: $27
NV Bella Modella Modella Prosecco D.O.C. RRP: $28.95
2016 Canella Valdobbiadene Prosecco Brut D.O.C.G RRP: $30