Prosecco: Discovering the drier side

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Valdobbiadene under a dusting of winter snow Credit: Maurizio Parravicini

There’s a buzz in the Prosecco Superiore hills of Valdobbiadene and Conegliano. A new generation of producers is emerging and the established names in the region are releasing premium, limited-selection bottlings. There is greater sensitivity in the vineyard as producers seek to express a sense of place, and increased diversification in winemaking styles. Quality is stepping up – or perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is being forced up by the need to distinguish Prosecco Superiore DOCG from the commercially rampant Prosecco DOC of the plains. In lockstep with these developments, there has been a significant swing towards drier styles in recent years.

Prosecco has three categories, from driest to sweetest: brut (including Extra brut and variously named zero-sugar styles), Extra Dry and Dry.

Paolo Bisol of Ruggeri recounts that 40 years ago the most highly prized sparkling wines reserved for special family occasions were sweet. The fruity Extra Dry, on the other hand, was the everyday style that flowed copiously, and still does, in the osterie of the province of Treviso. Until relatively recently, Prosecco brut accounted for only a small part of the total DOCG production, but this is changing in response to evolving tastes and in particular to the demands of international markets. For example, production was once divided 80/20 between Extra Dry and brut at Ruggeri, but the split is now a much drier 50/50; nearly four-fifths of Bisol’s Prosecco Superiore is brut.

Translated by ICY

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