Thursday, March 13, 2014

Prosecco Unmasked in Ardclough

Our December tasting was exceptional. None of us had been to a Prosecco only tasting before and boy were the wines interesting.

Here's the lineup:

Kevin ( that's me .. ) gave a brief introduction to what Prosecco is, where it comes from and how it is made. It can be as simple as remembering that its a one grape sparkling wine from the north East of Italy.  The detail behind the region was then explained and demonstrated by tasting 'across' the DOC and DOCG regions.

We began with a Rizzardi Frizzante - O'Briens Wines € 
Frizzante Prosecco's have a lower atmospheric pressure in the bottle and are often sealed by screwcap or  a relatively simple cork. The bubbles don't last as long in the glass and there isn't a great big loud pop when the bottle is opened as there is for full sparkling Prosecco - described as Spumante. Irish excise duty is the same for frizzante styles as it is for standard still wines between 5.5 and 15% vol. That makes frizzantes seem like good value. 
Rizzardi is brilliant. Never lets you down. Strong flavours with elements of austere pear and melon, fine structure with excellent acidity and soft bubbles effect.

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Spumante DOCGValdobbadione Prosecco Superiore Spumante Aldi €11.49
This was instructive as the label tells us that its a DOCG Prosecco.
Really good pour with big mousse foaming to top of the glass. Drinks well but needs to be attacked quickly as it loses its initial charm after a while. That said noone seemed to think Prosecco's are left in the glass for too long to worry about that! It is a dry style where the acidity is quite marked. Would make a very good base wine for a Bellini.

Rizzardi Prosecco Spumante Extra Dry O'Brien's €17.49
At this point it was useful to explain the Extra Dry versus Brut etc
06WITA012     Here's the scale:  g/l sugar
     0 to 6 Extra Brut
     6 to 12 Brut
     12 to 17 Extra Dry
     17 to 35 Dry
     35 to 50 Dolce

Dolce means sweet and extra Brut will be very dry. This wine however is 'Extra Dry' and as you can see from the scale that does not mean it is devoid of sweetness! The Prosecco grape, or more accurately, as it has been renamed, the Glera, is an acidic grape with a fine austerity to it. Left to its own devices it can be crushingly dry on the palate and will need a few grams of residual sugar to balance the palate out. That's good and it also contributes to one of Prosecco's other great attributes - alcohol levels are very managable around the 11 to12% vol mark - and that's very good.

This Rizzardi wine is very good. Rounded fresh fruit punctured by crisp acidity; long lasting bubbles. All very enjoyable.

The next two wines were very similar and showed that there are quite a few proseccos on the market that are well made with little to distinquish between them. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why Prosecco has been so succesful - inherant reliability?

Prosecco Santa Margarita Brut 11.5%vol (Cassidy Wines - widely available)
Super mousse. Lingering herbal quality to the bouquet. Scrunchy delicious palate. Like this.

Maschio dei Cavalieri Prosecco (Gleeson Gilbeys- widely available)
Another excellent wine. Lots of intensity and very clean lines. As I mention above these do Prosecco proud.

Finally we had a pair from a producer called Masottina distributed in Ireland by Classic Drinks. These are exceptional. I had the pleasure of meeting with owner and winemaker Adriano dal Bianco and his wife Franca in Dublin last year. I was guided through Prosecco as never before. These wines are exceptional.

A relaxed Adriano and Franca in Dublin - note three wines in photo are not sparklers - sin sceil eile.

Masottina Conegliano Valdobbiadene 11% €15.99
Brilliant pour with hints of green herbs and apple on the bouquet. Intense palate with fantastic lenght. Really good sparkling wine.

Conegliano Valdobbiadene Le Rive Ogliano Prosecco Superiore
DOCG Extra Dry Spumante Millesimato 11.5%
Our final wine brought us to new levels on a number of fronts. This was the most expensive wine in the line up at about €30.00 a bottle; it was from the smallest demarcated area in the tasting, the hills of Ogliano; it was the best wine on the night and it was the best received wine by club members. Praise indeed.
This wine pours well showing a very fine mousse and bubble. Excllent bouquet of fresh lemon and soft ripe peach. Palate structure is gentle and well defined. Elegance is this wines hallmark. I cannot think of any occassion where this wine would not be welcomed.

Next club night is first Wadnesday of February 2014 when the theme will be 'Cabernet Sauvignon'.