Good bubbles come at a price, but there are incredible values to be found in Prosecco if you know what to look for.
“Thanks to the plethora of industrial examples that have transformed it into a billion-dollar industry, most consumers think of Prosecco as something cheap and easy to throw in a Bellini or Mimosa,” says Zachary Sussman, author of the new book. Sparkling wines for modern times.
According to Sussman, these “pop wine” stereotypes stem from the fact that Prosecco’s production area has expanded rapidly to keep up with rising demand, and its prestige has been hampered by high-yield chemical farming. This mass market model obscured the identity of the small hilltop villages that make up Prosecco’s ancestral home.
The best Prosecco is labeled DOCG, or “Superiore,” and comes from a small, mountainous region collectively known as Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. “Here in the ‘Superiore’ subzone is where you will find Prosecco’s soulful side,” says Sussman. Sussman, populated by independent, family-run vineyards and wineries that have been making wine for generations, found that the wines of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene offer a stark contrast to the “big brand” mentality that came to define the Prosecco category.
Prosecco from the DOCG is harvested by hand, requiring more than three times as many hours of manual labor to harvest as Prosecco from the plain that produces the more ubiquitous, DOC variety. DOCG Prosecco tastes as it was originally intended to taste, with rich character of the unique location and organic farming in ancient soils, remarkable drought thanks to its low residual sugar content, and more nuanced fruit flavors due to thoughtful harvest.
If you want to grab a bottle, here are some excellent examples of Superiore Prosecco that can be found in the US, all at remarkable values.
To me, this has the most Champagne-like finish of all. A rich, enduring quality stood out. It was introduced by Kermit Lynch, and if in doubt, you can never go wrong with their wines.
A personal favorite of Zachary Sussman, who describes the Mongarda Brut as bright, flowery and softly bubbling … a classic example of Prosecco’s past that shows the way to the future.
The Druze family has been making Prosecco for three generations, from vineyards that are now more than a century old. This Extra Brut has green apple and flower notes, and a dry finish.
A “Modern” Prosecco according to its manufacturer. Wine reviewer Eric Guido of Vinuous described it as silky in texture, yet energetic and spicy, with mineral-tinted orchards and hints of sour grapefruit creating enticing contrasts.
This single vineyard Prosecco made by two sisters (Sorelle Bronca means Bronca Sisters, in Italian) has no residual sugar, notes of flowers and pear, and prominent acidity that gives it a “lithe and vertical” taste.
Producer Cinzia Canzian lives by the motto: Life is a bubble. She describes this Rosé Brut as a hippie of a sparkling wine that goes against trends; sweet on the nose but dry in the mouth. Her Prosecco Superiore Brut is also exceptional.
Producers Silvano and Alberta Follador have dedicated themselves to, as Follador writes, respecting the natural physiology of the plant as well as the fertility and microbial life of the soil. This resulted in more fragrant grapes. They practice a spontaneous secondary fermentation process that, they say, brings out the true variety aromas with hints of the minerals found in the soil.