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The Prosecco Masters 2014: The medalists

A panel of experts gathered for a blind tasting to deliberate over the great, the good and the sparkling at the first ever drinks business Prosecco Masters.

Let’s face it, if one were to list this decade’s most fashionable drinks, Prosecco would undoubtedly feature, and probably top the list. With its memorable and distinctly Italian ring, appealing taste, and gentle fizz, the sparkling wine now features on almost every chalkboard, wine list or supermarket shelf, as well as in a raft of trendy cocktails.

As a result, Prosecco has pretty much single-handedly sustained northern Italy’s export volume success, becoming, some might say, the new Pinot Grigio. And, while the latter light-bodied white grape brought a fresh generation of drinkers into wine, Prosecco has, similarly, taken a great number of consumers in a new direction, turning them into regular sparkling sippers – as opposed to regular wine drinkers and occasional Champagne consumers.


In essence, Prosecco has become the crowd-pleasing solution for more casual, and celebratory social occasions, however, it’s less prevalent at formal and upmarket events, as well as those really special times, when the default choice is still Champagne.

Its inability to take advantage of the latter sparkling opportunity is probably because there’s a sense that Prosecco is nothing more than an unsophisticated, fun sparkling – which after all, is a belief that has served the category well. However, as those who reside in Italy will tell you, there’s more to the category that basic fruit-scented fizz. But, what is the difference in taste between the different quality tiers? And, can one detect site specifics at the top-end?

It was such questions, when allied to Prosecco’s sales success, that prompted the drinks business to launch the Prosecco Masters to complement its other major Masters competitions, including one for Champagne as well as others for widely planted grapes, such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Having attracted just under 100 Proseccos for our first competition, it seems we were right to instigate such a tasting for the fast-expanding category, with many producers telling us how pleased they were that we were running an independent blind tasting just for this Italian fizz.

To judge the sparklings we selected a range of personalities from different professions that were well known for their expertise in both the Italian and sparkling wine scene, be they wine writers, sommeliers or buyers (see box below for the list of judges).

As the day’s tasting came to a close, all agreed that they were greatly encouraged by the overall consistency in quality, although certain categories performed better than others. The judges were looking for certain traits, such as delicate fruit, freshness, as well as, depending on the price, complexity and a long finish, and they weren’t disappointed.

“For me, Prosecco is all about Italian technology wedded to a very delicate grape variety,” commented Alex Canetti, Italian specialist and brand manager of Antinori at Berkmann Wine Cellars. Drawing attention to the need to protect this variety’s subtle character, he praised northern Italy’s ability to produce the world’s best winemaking equipment, be it bottling lines, tanks or presses, and then use them to great effect with the Glera grape in the Prosecco DOC and DOCG. Supporting such a belief, Nick Tatham MW, who works for Italian specialist Continental Wine and Food, added, “Delicate is an extremely important word when it comes to Prosecco, and I think delicacy is what customers are looking for.” He also noted, “The nose is terribly important; it has to be appealing.”


Sugar levels were also a topic of some discussion after the tasting. Remarking that Prosecco “is meant to be off-dry”, Tom Bruce-Gardyne, who has become the UK’s leading commentator on this Italian sparkling, noted that the highest-scoring examples were often at the sweeter end of the spectrum, and designated Extra Dry. Somewhat confusingly for consumers, the Extra Dry classification comprises Proseccos with 12 to 17 grams per litre of residual sugar, sweeter than Brut, a term used to describe those sparklings with 12g/l or under. Of course there were some high-scoring Bruts, an increasingly fashionable classification for producers, but most of the Proseccos that scored less well were 12 g/l or below. Well-known Champagne commentator and sparkling wine specialist Michael Edwards was particularly pleased to see the Extra Dry Proseccos well rewarded. “Although Brut is the coming flavour in Valdobbiadene, Extra Dry is much more the tradition in Prosecco,” he commented. “But it’s not just a question of nostalgia,” continued Edwards, “Prosecco with a touch of sweetness is a very good partner to Asian cooking.” Summing up he stated, “Brut is not next to godliness, at least not in Prosecco.”

Similarly, Tatham commented after the tasting, “Extra Dry is the best place for Prosecco to be” – and looking at the results, of the 20 silvers awarded, 16 had over 12g/l residual sugar, placing them in the Extra Dry classification or above. Similarly, the sole gold awarded was an Extra Dry, as was one of the two Masters.

What about classifications other than sweetness? One element the tasters were keen to test was whether DOCG Prosecco faired better than DOC. The former, which was conferred on Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene and Prosecco di Montello e Colli Asolani in 2009, sees stricter regulations on quality, in particular yields – with 90-95hl/ha the limit, compared to 126-180hl/ha for DOC zones (like Belluno, Gorizia, Padova, Pordenone, Treviso, Trieste, Udine, Venezia, and Vicenza, replacing the former IGT Prosecco).

Certainly there were no golds or masters in the DOC tasting category, and only six of the 20 silvers, lending weight to the idea that stricter controls and the more tightly geographically defined area of the DOCG does yield a better Prosecco.

“I did notice an improvement in marks for DOCG, which generally scored more highly,” commented Tatham. However, he also pointed out that, although the difference in quality was apparent, it was not pronounced. “I felt that DOCG generally speaking did have the edge, but to the average consumer it is not going to be obvious – if it’s going to be successful, DOCGs have got to be substantially different to DOC,” he said.

As for the very best examples, notably the only gold medal was awarded to Bisol’s Vigneti del Fol, which comes from the Il Rive cru, which, along with Cartizze, is the most expensive and rarefied expression of Prosecco.

Meanwhile, one of the Masters was from the less common DOCG Colli Asolani,and, while it may seem strange that the competition yielded just one gold but two Masters, this was because despite repeated tasting the judges couldn’t decide which was the very best wine of the day, and so awarded both Giusti Dal Col and Andreola Di Stefano Rola the highest accolade.

Finally, because Proseccos from the Cartizze cru, where the DOCG’s most valuable vineyards cling to a steep hillside, tend to be the sweetest, these were judged separately, and, as one would expect, scored well. However, the judges weren’t entirely convinced that Cartizze always offered the very pinnacle of Prosecco. “I’m not a great fan of Cartizze,” said Tatham. “In some ways it’s a mistake to see it as the ultimate Prosecco because it’s so different in style – it should perhaps be classed as something different.”


Then there was the issue of value for money. Knowing that these wines were nudging or bypassing the £20 mark, it was felt that it was hard for Prosecco to justify such a premium over good examples around £10, or even below. “Towards the Cartizze end there was definitely some real quality but whether that justifies the price remains to be seen,” commented Andrea Bricarello, head sommelier at Galvin La Chapelle and Café Deluxe.

Nevetheless, the tasting highlighted three things. Firstly, the success of the traditional Prosecco style – a pretty, delicate sparkling
wine with fine bubbles, an attractive sweetness, balanced by a refreshing acidity. Secondly, the quality now available in Prosecco, even among producers operating at the lower-priced DOC level. And thirdly, the wide range of styles available. So, whoever thinks that all Prosecco tastes the same needs to take part in next year’s tasting.

Prosecco Masters judges (l-r): Nick Tatham, Tom Bruce-Gardyne, Andrea Briccarello, Gabriel Savage, Alex Canneti, Patrick Schmitt, Michael Edwards, Roberto Della Pietra

Scroll through to see which Proseccos were deemed worthy of a medal by our panel of judges…



DOC Prosecco

DOC Prosecco: Under £10
Company Product name Medals Vintage Sugar (g/l)
MA SpA M&S – Spumante Extra Dry Silver NV 13
Santero Villa Jolanda Silver NV 15
Vinicola Serena Terra Serena – Treviso Extra Dry Bronze 2013 16
Val D’Oca Val D’Oca – Treviso Extra Dry Bronze 2013 16
Fantinel Fantinel – Extra Dry Bronze NV 18
GIV UK Conti d’Arco Bronze 2012 11
GIV UK Le Altane Bronze 2012 11
Mionetto Prestige Collection – Treviso Brut Bronze 2013 13.5
Casa Gheller Casa Gheller – Treviso Bronze 2012 14


DOC Prosecco: £10-20
Company Product name Medals Vintage Sugar (g/l)
San Simone di Brisotto Brut ‘Il Concerto’ Silver NV 9
Bottega Bottega Il Vino Dei Poeti Silver 2013 11.5
Il Caggio Il Caggio Silver NV 15
La Marca Vini e Spumanti Torri della Marca – Treviso Silver NV 17
Le Colture Sylvoz – Brut Bronze 2013 9
San Simone di Brisotto Brut ‘Perlae Naonis’ Bronze 2013 9
Borgo Molino Borgo Molino – Treviso Brut Bronze NV 11
Follador di Rossi Italia Treviso Brut Bronze 2013 11
Biancavigna Biancavigna – Brut Bronze 2013 12
MA SpA Vallate Spumante – Extra Dry Bronze NV 13
Cantine Maschio Maschio Spumante – Treviso Brut Bronze NV 13
Masottina Masottina – Treviso Extra Dry Bronze NV 14.6
Borgo Molino Borgo Molino – Treviso Extra Dry Bronze NV 16



DOCG Prosecco

DOCG Prosecco: Under £10
Company Product name Medals Vintage Sugar (g/l)
Casa Gheller Casa Gheller Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Silver 2012 17
Bortolomiol Bortolomiol Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Senior Extra Dry Bronze 2012 15
Bortolomiol Bortolomiol Bandarossa Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Bronze 2012 18


DOCG Prosecco: £10-20
Company Product name Medals Vintage Sugar (g/l)
Andreola Di Stefano Mas de Fer Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry Master 2013 14
Giusti Dal Col Prosecco Superiore Asolo DOCG Brut Master 2013 10
L’Antica Quercia Matiu’ Conegliano Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Silver 2013 6
Carpenè Malvolti 1868 Extra Dry DOCG Silver 2013 15
Giusti Dal Col Prosecco Superiore Asolo DOCG Extra Dry Silver 2013 18
Giavi Giavi Prima Volta Prosecco Superiore DOCG Millesimato Dry Silver 2013 22
Follador di Rossi Italia Prosecco Superiore di Valdobbiadene DOCG. Extra Dry Millesimato Silver 2013 15
Borgo Molino Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry Silver NV 16
Domenico de Bertiol Domenico de Bertiol Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Spumante Silver NV 16
Perlage Col Di Manza Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Silver 2012 17
Mionetto Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry – Luxury Collection Silver 2013 17
Andreola Di Stefano 26° I° Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut Bronze 2013 5
Giavi Giavi Emma Prosecco Supeiore DOCG Bronze 2012 5
Bortolotti Bortolotti Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Bronze NV 7
Cantine Maschio Maschio dei Cavalieri Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG – Rive di Colbertaldo Bronze 2013 14
Santa Margherita Santa Margherita ’52’ Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Bronze NV 14.5
Symphoniae Symphoniae Prosecco DOCG Extra Dry Bronze NV 15
Canevel Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry Bronze 2013 17
La Marca Vini e Spumanti La Marca Prosecco Spumante Superiore Bronze NV 21
Andreola Di Stefano Vigneto dirupo Valdobbiadene Prosecco Spumante Superiore Brut Bronze 2013 10
Val D’Oca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut Bronze 2013 10
GIV UK Prosecco Bolla Bronze 2012 10
Giavi Giavi Prima Volta Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Bronze NV 11
Bottega Bottega Il Vino Dei Poeti Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG Bronze 2013 16


DOCG Prosecco: £20-30
Company Product name Medals Vintage Sugar (g/l)
Bisol Vigneti del Fol – Prosecco Superiore di Valdobbiadene DOCG Gold 2012 16
Bisol Crede Bisol Prosecco Superiore di Valdobbiadene DOCG Silver 2013 7.5
Masottina Masottina Extra Dry Silver NV 15.1
Masottina Masottina Brut Bronze NV 10.2
Villa Sandi Valdobbiade Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Millesimato Bronze NV 12
Le Colture Pianer Valdobbiadene DOCG Spumante Extra Dry Bronze 2013 14


DOCG Prosecco: Cartizze
Company Product name Medals Vintage Sugar (g/l)
Mionetto Cartizze DOCG Dry MO Collection Silver 2013 23
Carpenè Malvolti1868 Cartizze DOCG Silver 2013 19

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