Mention sparkling wine and food and many people would probably think of Champagne and smoked salmon. However, not only are there many styles of sparkling wine, but there are also many different types of food that could be paired successfully with them.
Villa Sandi Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG ‘Extra Dry’
I recently had the pleasure of attending a Villa Sandi and Theo Randall Canapé Party focusing on sparkling wine and food pairing, hosted by Ehrmanns Wines. Theo Randall is the award-winning chef of Italian cuisine, based at the Intercontinental Hotel in Park Lane. Historic and renowned Italian wine producer, Villa Sandi, is one of the biggest exporters of Prosecco in the world. This iconic sparkling wine, made from the Glera grape variety, has become increasingly fashionable in the UK, especially in London, over recent times. Indeed, a recent report in the drinks business shows how global sales of Prosecco are now outperforming Champagne. Nevertheless, the choice available to the mass market does not always showcase the true quality that does exist. Villa Sandi’s Proseccos are high-class examples of what can be achieved.
Winemaker Stefano Gava described the defining features of his different styles of Prosecco, referring to the importance of terroir and the company’s methods of production which use particularly low levels of sulfites. While this was happening, Theo Randall demonstrated how to cook a perfect risotto with radicchio, confirming how well Prosecco and food, particularly when it contains Parmiggiano, can go together.
Our apéritif was the Prosecco DOC ‘Il Fresco’. Fresh, fruity and floral, this had refreshing apple and citrus notes – perfect for drinking on its own or with light canapés. Following on from this, we enjoyed the delightful Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG ‘Extra Dry’. Very floral and elegant with notes of stone fruit and pear plus a fresh lemon zing, this richer style of Prosecco would match well with light but similarly richer food, including crab.
Undoubtedly, Villa Sandi’s cream of the crop was their Vigna la Rivetta Brut Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG, particularly well-suited to Theo Randall’s risotto. The ‘Cartizze’ style is named after a 260-acre, hilly, stony and sunny vineyard area, shared between over 140 growers. Here, the grapes can ripen slowly to allow production of rich, complex sparkling wines. This particular Cartizze from Villa Sandi, made in the ‘Brut’ style, has 10g residual sugar, which helps to bring out the intense fruity character of peach, apple and citrus, complemented by a touch of salinity and good minerality. Stefano explained that other wineries which produce a Cartizze make the ‘dry’ version only, whereas Villa Sandi, in addition to that style, also make 12,000 bottles a year of their unique ‘Brut’ version.
We were then treated to a glass of Villa Sandi’s Opere Brut, a traditional method sparkling wine, made with 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. Aged for 36-months on its lees, it was delicate and aromatic with citrus, biscuit and cream notes. The wine was a particularly good match for the delicious Lincolnshire wild smoked eel. Finally, the Opere Brut Rosé, also made by the traditional method, with 100% Pinot Noir, was floral and refreshingly zingy with light red berry and citrus notes.
There are many sparkling wines in the higher price categories, which all have their own desirable features. However, if you want to spend a little less money, why not give some of the good quality alternatives a try? You won’t be alone! Glass of Prosecco with your beef carpaccio, anyone?