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The best Proseccos for 2018

With its slight sweetness and fruity characteristics, Prosecco is one of the most popular wines available. We bring you the category’s best bubbles from this year’s Prosecco Masters tasting.

While all the competitions in the drinks business’s Global Masters series are important, some are more commercially significant than others. For wine buyers in the UK, particularly those in the supermarket or pub sectors, few parts of the drinks business are more marketable than Prosecco – an area of trade that has grown to such an extent that demand outstripped supply last year. For this reason, the Prosecco Masters is one of the most hotly anticipated tastings in our series – both for the judges and the wider trade, most of whom now handle this product in some way.
But what has made Prosecco such a success? It is a question that can be best answered after a day sampling more than 100 wines from this category, covering every style and price point, including the niche producer and big-brand player.
Nevertheless, before the tasting began, our judges had a pretty clear idea of what they where looking for, believing they know what makes this sparkling wine such a hit with today’s drinkers. Would a the competition alter or confirm their views? Well, in short, it reinforced them, while also drawing attention to the sweet spots in the category, and areas of relative weakness. For them, Prosecco is popular for its fizzy pear and peach flavours, along with slightly sweet character. It’s best enjoyed while it’s young and fresh, and sells best around the £10 mark in UK retail – and preferably below this psychological cut-off.
But what was less well understood were the gradations in quality according to source area and winemaking approaches; essentially, the qualities that justify the higher prices for premium Prosecco.
One element that is clear from the day’s tasting is the high level of appeal at the entry-level end of the category. Prosecco is, in part, sought after because it delivers a consistent flavour and quality – and that was seen among the DOC samples under £10. Nothing was outstanding, but few samples secured less than a Bronze medal. And between £10 and £15, we not only had our first Gold – Ponte’s DOC Extra Dry – but also a remarkably high proportion of Silvers. This is not easy, gaining such a medal requires agreement between a group of exacting judges who are looking for more than just orchard-fruit flavours in their fizz.

Ultimate accolade

Alex Canetti, judge in the Prosecco Masters, Italian wine specialist, and director of Berkmann Wine Cellars

The improvement in Prosecco within the DOC samples as one moved up the price bands was notable. Indeed, our first Masters were awarded once we passed the £15 mark, with Maccari receiving the ultimate accolade for its Extra Dry Duplavilis, and then Bottega, for its even more expensive ‘Gold’ expression.

The step up in general standard once we moved into the DOCG Proseccos was notable – those sourced from the best sites in the region, be they Conegliano, Valdobbiadene or Asolo. In broad terms, these tended to have purer, more intense fruit, and often with ripe peach alongside the traditional pear flavour. Complexity was also evident in some samples, with a touch of citrus zest, and a gently chalky taste and sensation on the finish. Sugar-acid balance, even in sweeter samples, was key – the judges were on the look-out for refreshment.
Moving up the scale to the very top end of Prosecco, it was pleasing to see that Rive examples received some of the highest scores of the day. This category was introduced in 2010 to draw attention to particular sub-zones with distinctive and high-quality terroirs, and the Master awards for the Rive Proseccos from Val d’Oca and Masottina proved that there are sites in the Prosecco region that really do produce special wines.
We did taste one Cartizze – named after a hill in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG that is famous for producing the most concentrated expression of Prosecco. From Colesi, it was certainly impressive enough to gain a Gold, even though it was made in a Brut style – unusual for this pinnacle of the Prosecco pyramid, which is usually made in a sweeter style, and often ‘Dry’ (17g-32g/l).

Widespread appeal

Jonathan Pedley MW, wine consultant for Crown Cellars and Prosecco Masters judge

With this in mind, it is worth considering sugar in Prosecco. Unlike Champagne, where the majority of wines are made in a Brut style (0g-12g/l), Prosecco is generally released as an Extra Dry (12g-17g/l), and the fizz seems to suit this level best – the sugar broadening the mouthfeel and complementing the orchard-fruit flavours. Furthermore, the slight sweetness to Prosecco in part explains its widespread appeal – and, in particular, its popularity with a cross section of drinkers who were, 10 years ago, mainly drinking sweeter styles of pink wine, known as ‘blush rosé’.

So, as you can see in the results, the majority of high-scorers were ‘Extra-Dry’, and, should one seek out Brut, it is usually from better sites in the region, so DOCG areas, and in particular the warmer, south-facing hillsides of DOCG Asolo, which naturally produces wines with more yellow-fruit flavours. Indeed, after the day’s tasting, one judge, Jonathan Pedley MW, said: “Most wines achieved a good balance between sweetness and acidity. That said, there were a couple of examples where producers straining to make Brut or even Extra Brut offerings ended up with wines that were too tart and austere.”
Having considered sweetness, another aspect to Prosecco that emerged after the tasting is freshness. While an element of maturity is desirable in many bottle-fermented sparkling wines – above all, Champagne – when it comes to Prosecco, the combination of the Charmat method and the aromatic Glera grape means that this fizz is best enjoyed as a youthful product. As a result, some of the rejected wines were those that showed flat, tired, and at times oxidised characters, and not the aromatic freshness that makes Prosecco stand out. As Nick Tatham MW, another judge, said: “The Glera grape is at its best when drunk fresh.”
He said that this meant that vintage-dated Proseccos (millesimato), if they are from older harvests, might not offer a better experience for the consumer, even though they can be more expensive than ‘regular’ releases.
Also, although the vast majority of Proseccos are labelled NV, they are generally the product of one vintage, which is usually the latest one, thanks to the popularity of the product.
In summary, it was widely felt that Prosecco is fashionable because it successfully delivers fresh, fruity, slightly sweet sparkling wines that are enjoyable to consume. And, it was revealing to see the quality attainable at the top end, be it from the step up to DOCG, or, much more rare, the Rive designation for special sites. Overall though, it is the combination of the sparkling winemaking expertise of northern Italy with the appealing aromatics of Glera that has made Prosecco such a hit. While there is a place for premium or even super-premium Prosecco, the judges felt that it was important the top end remained true
to Prosecco’s most appealing attributes – particularly regarding freshness and sweetness.

About the competition

The drinks business Prosecco Masters, now in its fifth year, is a competition exclusively for the Italian sparkling wine. This year’s event saw more than 100 entries judged blind by a panel of highly experienced tasters. The best wines were awarded medals that ranged from Bronze through to Gold, as well as Master, the ultimate accolade, given only to exceptional wines in the tasting. The Proseccos were tasted over the course of one day at Henrietta Hotel in London’s Covent Garden on 23 March. This report features only the medal-winners.
The judges (l-r): Nick Tatham MW, Alex Canetti, Roberto Della Pietra, Jonathan Pedley MW, Patricia Stefanowicz MW, Andrew Howard MW and Patrick Schmitt MW

Prosecco Masters medallists 2018: DOC Prosecco

Company Product Vintage Medal
Under £10
Cantina Colli del Soligo Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut NV Silver
Casa Defrà Prosecco 1754 NV Silver
Cantine Riunite Riunite Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry NV Silver
Valdo Spumanti Marca Oro Prosecco DOC Extra Dry NV Silver
Casa Vinicola Botter Carlo Prosecco DOC Spumante Bio Divici NV Silver
Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut 2017 Silver
Cantine Riunite Maschio Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry NV Silver
Colli Vicentini Prosecco DOC Torre dei Vescovi NV Silver
I heart I heart prosecco NV Silver
Cielo e Terra Cielo Prosecco Spumante DOC NV Bronze
Genagricola sior Sandro NV Bronze
MA. S.P.A. Vallate Prosecco Brut NV Bronze
Bacio della Luna Spumanti Prosecco DOC Brut NV Bronze
Cielo e Terra I Castelli Prosecco Spumante Cuore 1530 NV Bronze
Casa Vinicola Botter Carlo & C SpA Prosecco DOC Spumante Botter NV Bronze
The Wine People Onbrina Prosecco NV Bronze
£10-£15
Viticoltori Ponte Prosecco DOC Treviso Spumante Extra Dry NV Gold
San Simone Di Brisotto Prosecco DOC Brut “Il Concerto” NV Silver
Pradio Vineyards Pradio Passaparola Prosecco Spumante DOC NV Silver
Cantine Riunite & CIV Maschio dei Cavalieri Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry NV Silver
Masottina Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry NV Silver
Villa Sandi Prosecco DOC Treviso Spumante Brut Casa Gheller NV Silver
Fantinel Fantinel Prosecco Extra Dry NV Silver
Montelliana e dei Colli Asolani Montelliana Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry 2017 Silver
Azienda Agricola Biasiotto Prosecco DOC Extra Dry 2017 Silver
Giusti Wine Rosalia DOC Treviso Extra Dry 2016 Silver
Sensi Vigne e Vini S.R.L “18K” 2017 Silver
Raphael Dal Bo Prosecco DOC Extra Dry La Vita è Bella, Agricoltura Biologica NV Bronze
Martini SpA Prosecco Martini NV Bronze
Salatin SRL Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut NV Bronze
Vigna Belvedere Prosecco Vigna Belvedere DOC Brut NV Bronze
Campari Group Frattina Prosecco DOC Brut 2016 Bronze
Continental Wine & Food Ltd. Prosecco Spumante DOC Extra Dry Collevento 921 NV Bronze
Vigna Belvedere Vigna Belvedere Prosecco DOC Extra Dry 2017 Bronze
£15-£20
Maccari Spumanti Prosecco DOC Extra Dry Duplavilis NV Master
Fantinel Fantinel “One & Only” Prosecco DOC Brut 2017 Gold
Villa Marcello Prosecco Millesimato Brut Treviso DOC 2016 Silver
I Magredi Ca’Lisetta Prosecco DOC Extra Dry NV Silver
Bottega “Il Vino dei Poeti” Prosecco DOC Spumante Brut 2017 Silver
Maccari Spumanti Prosecco DOC Extra Dry Maccari 2017 Bronze
Martini & Rossi Prosecco Martini Vintage 2016 Bronze
Maccari Spumanti Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry Palladio 2017 Bronze
Sacchetto Prosecco DOC Extra Dry Fili NV Bronze
£20-£30
Bottega Bottega Gold 2017 Master
Fattoria Conca d’oro Spumante Prosecco Cuvée Oro Extra Dry DOC Treviso Millesimato 2017 Gold
FIOL FIOL Prosecco DOC NV Gold

Prosecco Masters medallists 2018: DOCG Prosecco

Company Product Vintage Medal
Under £10
Andreola di Stefano Pola ‘Vigneto Dirupo’ Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut 2017 Silver
Ruggeri Quartese NV Silver
Cantina Colli del Soligo Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Col de Mez Brut NV Bronze
£10-£15
Montelliana e dei Colli Asolani Montelliana Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry 2017 Gold
Valdo Spumanti Oro Puro Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG NV Gold
Raphael Dal Bo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Conegliano – Valdobbiadene Millesimato Extra Dry 2017 Gold
Bisol Desiderio & Figli Jeio Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG NV Silver
Perlage Winery Canah Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut 2017 Silver
Villa Sandi Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut Millesimato 2017 Silver
Genagricola sior Piero NV Silver
Raphael Dal Bo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Conegliano- Valdobbiadene Extra Dry NV Silver
La Marca Vini e Spumanti Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG 2016 Silver
Andreola di Stefano Pola ‘Vigne del Piai’ Rive di Rolle Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Dry 2017 Silver
Villa Frattina Frattina Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry 2016 Silver
Masottina ‘Conegliano Valdobbiadene Brut’ Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore NV Silver
Andreola di Stefano Pola ‘Màs de Fer’ Rive di Soligo Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Spumante Extra Dry 2017 Silver
Bortolomiol ‘Senior’ Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry Millesimato NV Silver
Cantine Riunite Rive di Colbertaldo Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Maschio dei Cavalieri 2017 Bronze
Frassinelli Gianluca Frassinelli Gianluca Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017 Bronze
Casa Gheller Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Extra Dry Casa Gheller NV Bronze
Carpene Malvolti Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Brut NV Bronze
Villa Sandi SPA Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Millesimato 2017 Bronze
Bacio Della Luna Spumanti Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut 2017 Bronze
Allini Prosecco Spumante Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG 2016 Bronze
Bortolomiol ‘Bandarossa’ Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry Millesimato NV Bronze
£15-£20
Val D’Oca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut ‘Rive di Col San Martino’ 2016 Gold
Val D’Oca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut ‘Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza’ 2016 Gold
Colvendrà ‘Bepi Sec’ Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Rive di Refrontolo Millesimato Brut 2016 Gold
Salatin Prosecco Superiore DOCG Valdobbiadene Extra Dry Millesimato 2017 Gold
Montelliana e dei Colli Asolani Montelliana Asolo Prosecco DOCG Millesimato Extra Dry 2016 Gold
Ruggeri Giall’Oro NV Gold
Astoria Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Millesimato 2017 Gold
Vinicoltura Le Rughe Conegliano Valdobbiadene Rivaj Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry NV Gold
Val D’Oca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut Nature ‘Rive di Santo Stefano’ 2016 Silver
Bisol Desiderio & Figli Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Brut Nature ‘Rive di Santo Stefano’ 2017 Silver
Val D’Oca Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry ‘Rive di Colbertaldo’ 2016 Silver
Maccari Spumanti Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry Maccari 2017 Silver
Toffoli Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2017 Silver
Conte Collalto Gaio Extra Dry Millesimato 2017 Silver
San Gregorio Azienda Agricola Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Millesimato Extra Dry 2017 Silver
Montelliana e dei Colli Asolani Montelliana ‘57’ Asolo Prosecco DOCG Extra Dry 2017 Silver
Conte Collalto San Salvatore Brut Millesimato 2017 Silver
Loredan Gasparini Monti Extra Brut 2016 Bronze
Viticoltori Ponte Prosecco Spumante DOCG Brut Conegliano-Valdobbiadene NV Bronze
Castello di Roncade Prosecco Extra Dry DOC Treviso 2017 Bronze
£20-£30
Masottina ‘Rive di Ogliano’ Extra Dry Rive di Ogliano Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2016 Master
Fattoria Conca d’Oro Spumante Prosecco Superiore Millesimato Extra Dry DOCG Conegliano-Valdobbiadene 2017 Master
Masottina ‘Conegliano Valdobbiadene Extra Dry’ Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG NV Gold
Masottina ‘Contrada Granda’ Brut Rive di Ogliano Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2016 Silver
Giusti Wine Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut 2016 Bronze
Umberto Bortolotti Valdobbiadene Extra Dry ‘47’ 2016 Bronze
Perlage Winery Col di Manza Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Millesimato Extra Dry Cartizze 2016 Bronze
£15-£20 (Cartizze)
Colesel Spumanti Colesel Cartizze Brut 2017 Gold

Judges’ comments

Nick Tatham MW, wine development manager for Continental Food and Wine (CWF) and Prosecco Masters judge
Nick Tatham MW
“This year I detected a clear difference in the general quality level of the DOCG wines over the DOC wine… I suspect again that this is partly due to the more difficult vintages and the DOCG vineyards performing better thanks to their location and topography. I did like the fact that many of the better wines in particular were deliciously fruity on the nose with excellent pear and apple notes; this is for me the hallmark of a good and well-made Prosecco which can be lost sometimes in the more ‘serious’ wines which in their search for gravitas can sadly lose the ‘Drink me!’ bouquet which makes Prosecco the great success it is.”

Patricia Stefanowicz MW

“Whilst there were excellent wines in the DOC classes, the very best DOCG wines shone a brighter light with more definition and refinement. Particularly exciting and exhibiting true ‘sense of place’ were some of the wines from Conegliano-Valdobbiadene and Asolo. The ‘Rive’ wines, from the 40 or so hamlets entitled to the designation, were also interesting, packed with pure aromas and flavours.”

Jonathan Pedley MW

“The strongest and most consistent bracket for us was the DOCG £15-20: we had a super flight of eight wines with only one reject, the other seven sharing out Golds, Silvers and the odd Bronze. After these our trio of DOCG £20-30 wines were marginally disappointing; the extra cost did not seem to deliver more complexity or finesse. I would exhort the Prosecco industry to carry on producing the fresh, fruity, hedonistic, slightly sweet wines that have proved to be such a massive hit in the UK.”

Prosecco classifications

The hills of DOCG Prosecco

The Prosecco DOC production area covers the northeast Italian territories of Treviso, Venice, Vicenza, Padua and Belluno in the Veneto; and Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

Prosecco DOC totals approximately 20,000 hectares.

Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG covers the Treviso province of Veneto, on the hills between the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, while there is also the smaller Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, produced near the town of Asolo.

Prosecco DOCG totals approximately 6,600ha.

Superiore di Cartizze is a hill within the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG that is famous for producing the most concentrated expression of Prosecco – and often the sweetest. It covers 107ha and is home to the most expensive vineyard land in Italy, with an estimated value of €1.5m-€2m (£1.32m-£1.76m) per hectare.

While Cartizze is at the top of the Prosecco Superiore DOCG quality pyramid, the Consorzio recently introduced the Rive delimitations, which are named after particular sub-zones with distinct and high-quality terroirs.

The majority of Prosecco is sold as ‘Extra Dry’, meaning it contains 12-17g/l of residual sugar. Lower than that is sold as ‘Brut’, and higher is labelled ‘Dry’ (17-32g/l).

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