EXCLUSIVE: Prosecco brand Bottega is developing a no-alcohol sparkling ‘wine’

In a bid to cash in on the growing consumer demand for low-alcohol drinks, Sandro Bottega has confirmed that his Prosecco company is working on an alcohol-free wine, which he hopes to launch by January 2020.

Sandro Bottega hosted a vertical tasting of the Prosecco brand’s vintages spanning back to 2013 on 13 June (Photo: Bottega)

Speaking to the drinks business at an event in London on 13 June, founder Sandro Bottega said the product was still in its developmental stage, but he hopes to launch an alcohol-free, Prosecco-style sparkler in the UK in January 2020.

“I’m not yet sure it will be ready,” he said, “but we think so.”

Bottega said the launch would help the brand cash in on Dry January, an annual campaign that sees millions of people abstain from drinking for the first month of the year.

According to recent retail sales figures compiled by market analyst Kantar, both value and volume sales of no and low alcohol beer and cider have risen by over 40% in the 12 months to December 2018. However, wineries have not experienced the same success with their own low ABV products, as sales values have stagnated, while volumes fell 2.1% in the same period.

Owing to the strict production and labelling rules within Italy’s Prosecco region, Bottega said that it had been “extremely difficult” to develop a product of this kind and include it in the portfolio.

“The regulation we have on wines is much stricter than in beer,” he said.

“You cannot call it a wine,” he said, “and you cannot use the word Prosecco, and you cannot add sugar.”

“We also cannot de-alcoholise wine,” he added, “it is not permitted, so if you want to make a good wine without alcohol you have to start with a must and maintain it as it is throughout the year, and this is something tremendously difficult. In our project we have made something which will be launched next year, and it will be very good.”

By law, Prosecco DOC must have a minimum alcoholic strength by volume of 11%.

The winery owner said the alcohol-free wine took five years to develop, adding that he would also like to list the guilt-free fizz with “a British airline.”

Last June, UK retailer Asda introduced an alcohol-free ‘Nosecco’ to its drinks range.

During Dry January, a campaign run by charity Alcohol Change UK, participants give up alcohol in an attempt to detox and save money after the Christmas period.

Bottega is famous for its gold bottles of Prosecco (Photo: Bottega)

The rate of drinkers saying they will forgo alcohol at the start of the year has risen by almost 35%, up from the 3.1 million people who pledged to take part in 2018.

The Prosecco boss hopes the new product will appeal to abstaining drinkers.

Founded in 1977, the company is best known for its Bottega Gold, whose gold bottles are made using an elaborate production process that took five years to perfect. Single 75cl bottles sell for £25 at Selfridges.

The brand founder also said he believes that, despite its reputation as a youthful wine that should be opened within a few months of bottling, some Proseccos can benefit from ageing of up to five years in-bottle.

To prove his point, Sandro Bottega led a vertical tasting of the company’s wines, where members of the trade press were invited to sample Bottega vintages from 2013 to 2018.

Another product in the Prosecco brand’s works is a “natural”, bottle-fermented hazy Prosecco, the development of which was completed in January 2019.

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