The top wines and more from The Prosecco Masters
We bring you all the medallists from this year’s Prosecco Masters, and profile the top wines for all the key style and price categories, along with our best-value picks – but first, see below for our views on the category following the comprehensive tasting.
WHAT IS Prosecco? For the average consumer, even one with very little interest in wine, that’s an easy question to answer: it’s an Italian sparkling wine. They probably wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly where in Italy it’s from, but I’m sure they could tell you why they like it, with reasons ranging from its low ABV content to its inherent fruitiness.
While I doubt many of these consumers would describe it as sweet, it’s the softness imparted by relatively high levels of residual sugar in this fizz that adds to its broad appeal – there’s nothing sharp about a glass of Prosecco.
But having tasted through more than 100 samples of Prosecco for this year’s Masters competition on this region, answering the question posed above is hard. That’s because it’s clear there is no one Prosecco. It can, and increasingly does, take many different forms. These range widely in sweetness levels, particularly as more producers seem to be trialling very dry Proseccos, with Extra Brut (6 g/l and under) a more regular occurrence, although that classification can only be written on labels by winemakers producing Prosecco from the Asolo DOCG.
However, variation in sweetness is just one aspect to the fizz: there’s also a broadening stylistic range in terms of flavour – either because of picking dates or site selection – meaning some Proseccos can be a more taut experience, focused strictly on apple fruit, while others feature more peach, melon and apricot. Then there are those at the cheaper end, where fermentation-sourced esters seem to dominate, giving rise to pear drop and banana-like characters.
As for quality, the range too seems to be extending. The base level of Prosecco is still high and consistent, as long as the wines are youthful – bearing in mind Proseccos are pretty much bottled to order, where one finds that they are not fresh, the blame should probably be laid at the retailer who has failed to sell them fast enough, or the consumer who has not drunk them soon enough. Having said that, there are the occasional samples that have evolved aromatics, or bruised-apple characteristics, which could be a reflection of older base wines in the blend, poor handling during the winemaking, or in some cases, a deliberate approach to eschew anti-oxidant sulphur dioxide to attain ‘natural’ wine status.
Such rare instances aside, where the change is coming in quality terms concerns a move upwards, reflecting the ambitions of the top names in the region. Lower yields, isolating special sites – sometimes classified as Rive – as well as better winemaking and longer lees maturation times may all be a factor. It’s also worth noting that an increasing number of organic Proseccos are coming to the market, which is a sign that projecting a clean environmental image is becoming more important to the region. While organic grape growing is not directly correlated to quality, it does tend to yield more concentrated grapes and therefore more concentrated wines.
With all this in mind, I have decided to group the Proseccos in the market into a set of broad stylistic groups. These are:
- Basic: simple pear-drop character with some lingering sweetness;
- Mid-market freshness: orchard fruits and white floral aromatics with a fresh and firm finish;
- Mid-market sweetness: pear and peach ripeness, orange blossom aromatics, with a sweet and creamy-textured finish;
- Up-market seriousness: pristine ripe apple fruit and chalky aromatics witha bright, citrus zest, dry finish;
- Up-market indulgence: pear sorbet and peachy richness, rose petal aromatics with a balancing attractive pink grapefruit bitterness;
- Luxury Prosecco: Cartizze-sourced apricot and pear ripeness, creamy-textured richness, mouth-filling sweetness, and lasting, layered, cleansing lime-zest finish;
- Funky Prosecco: this can include a range of more experimental versions, from the cloudy col fondos to the apple-skin aromatics of ‘natural’ expressions.
So what was great in 2020? The important point to make at the outset is that very high quality Proseccos were tasted in the range of styles noted above, with a Master awarded to an almost bone- dry Prosecco from Andreola, although this was at the top end of the price range.
The sweet spot
Generally, however, Prosecco seems to suit a high level of sweetness compared with Champagne, and by that I mean 12g/l-15g/l, which is the very top end of Brut and into Extra Dry.
I think this is because Prosecco is a youthful expression of fresh fruit, and when you couple that with the fizz, if there’s very little sugar to soften the texture and fill out the mouth, the result can taste a little firm. Of course with bottle fermented fizz, particularly high- quality Champagne, low levels of residual sugar are compensated for by high levels of reserve wine and long lees ageing times, among other factors.
Something that is worth commenting on is the difference between DOC and DOCG Prosecco. While the difference can be subtle in excellence and style between a quality-minded producer using fine fruit from a good vineyard in the DOC and another in either of the DOCGs, it is notable that the only samples to receive the very highest scores were all from DOCG or Cartizze vineyards. Whatever the sweetness level, generally the DOCG Proseccos appear to have a more intense and pure fruit expression, whether it’s on the fresher apple or riper peach end of the spectrum. At their very best, such Proseccos have subtle layers of flavour, from apple and pear, and stone fruits, to floral notes and an appealing and very Italianate citrus zest lift, sometimes bitter almond too. Texture is also key, with a frothy fizz rare at the top end, while the characters tend to last long after the wine has been sampled, or, indeed, swallowed.
Finally, it’s always satisfying to find after a blind tasting that one’s preconceptions have been confirmed.
I have long thought that two of Prosecco’s standout producers are Andreola and Bisol (although I could add quite a few more to this list), so it was pleasing to see that these names were recipients of the Masters medals this year. In the case of Andreola specifically, which is a Rive specialist, it was interesting to taste such a difference in the character of its Proseccos, related no doubt to site, but also sweetness levels, but find such similarity in quality. Indeed, one of its Masters – Dirupo – had just 10g/l residual sugar, while the other – Vigne dei Piai Rive di Rolle – had 24g/l. Because the tasting was blind, I had no idea that these two great Proseccos were from the same producer.
So, next time you’re asked what is Prosecco, you should of course say it’s an Italian sparkling wine, but you can add that it’s one that takes many forms.
THE MEDALLISTS FROM THE PROSECCO MASTERS 2020:
|Bosco Viticultor||Prosecco Spumante DOC Extra Dry||NV||Gold|
|Cielo e Terra||Prosecco Spumante DOC||NV||Gold|
|Pradio Vineyards||Passaparola Prosecco Spumante DOC||NV||Gold|
|Fratelli Martin||Costellore Prosecco Spumante DOC||NV||Gold|
|Botter||Prosecco DOC Spumante Brut||NV||Silver|
|Vinicola Serena||Scavi & Ray Prosecco Spumante DOC||2019||Silver|
|Cielo e Terra||Bericanto Prosecco Spumante Millesimato||2019||Silver|
|Cielo e Terra||I Castelli Prosecco Spumante DOC||NV||Silver|
|Corvezzo||Prosecco DOC Extra Dry Organic & Vegan||2019||Silver|
|Corvezzo||Castellore Organic Prosecco||NV||Silver|
|Cantine Riunite & Civ||Riunite Prosecco DOC Treviso Spumante Extra Dry||NV||Silver|
|Antonio Facchin & Figli||Prosecco DOC Treviso Dalla Balla nob. Giuseppina Millesimato Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Vigna Dogarina||Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Paladin||Prosecco Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Allini||Prosecco DOC Spumante Extra Dry||2019||Bronze|
|Vigna Dogarina||Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut||2019||Bronze|
|Antonio Facchin & Figli||Prosecco DOC Treviso Dalla Balla nob. Giuseppina Millesimato Brut||2019||Bronze|
|Cielo e Terra||Casa Defra Prosecco Spumante 1754 DOC||NV||Bronze|
|Contri Spumante||Castellore Prosecco Frizzante DOC||NV||Bronze|
|Cantine Maschio||Maschio dei Cavalieri Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry||NV||Bronze|
|Cantine Maschio||Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry||NV||Bronze|
|Lidl Ireland||Allini Prosecco Treviso Frizzante||2018||Bronze|
|Casa Gheller||Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut||NV||Bronze|
|La Cantina Pizzolato||Pizzolato Prosecco Organic||NV||Bronze|
|Valdo Spumanti||Marca Oro Prosecco DOC Extra Dry||NV||Bronze|
|Casa Vinironia||Casa Vinironia Prosecco||NV||Bronze|
|Botter||Divici Prosecco DOC Spumante Bio||NV||Bronze|
|Lidl Ireland||Allini Prosecco Spumante Extra Dry||2019||Bronze|
|Ruggeri||Argeo Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut||NV||Gold|
|Zonin||Prosecco DOC Cuvée 1821||NV||Gold|
|Botter||P.Lex Prosecco DOC Spumante Bio||NV||Gold|
|Cantina Montelliana e dei Colli Asolani||Montelliana Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry||2019||Gold|
|Conca d’Oro||Prosecco Millesimato Cuvée Oro DOC Treviso Spumante Extra Dry||2019||Gold|
|Bosco del Merlo||Prosecco DOC Brut||2019||Silver|
|Sacchetto||Fili DOC Prosecco Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Vinicola Serena||Prosecco DOC Organic Brut Costaross||NV||Silver|
|MA||Vallate Prosecco DOC Brut||NV||Silver|
|Masottina||Prosecco Brut DOC Treviso||NV||Silver|
|Ponte||Prosecco Spumante DOC Treviso Extra Dry Ponte||NV||Silver|
|Masottina||Prosecco Extra Dry DOC Treviso||NV||Silver|
|MA||Vallate Prosecco Doc Extra Dry||NV||Silver|
|Casa Gheller||Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry Millesimato||2019||Silver|
|Martini||Martini Prosecco DOC||NV||Silver|
|Cantina Montelliana e dei Colli Asolani||Montelliana “Meliora” Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry Millesimato||2019||Silver|
|Invivo & Co||Graham Norton’s Own Prosecco DOC||NV||Silver|
|Sacchetto||Sacchetto Fili DOC Prosecco Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Cavit||Lunetta Brut DOC Prosecco||NV||Bronze|
|Fantinel||Fantinel Prosecco Extra-Dry||NV||Bronze|
|Bosco del Merlo||Prosecco Extra Dry||2019||Bronze|
|Botter||Brilla Prosecco DOC Spumante||NV||Bronze|
|Colli del Soligo||Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut||NV||Bronze|
|Ponte||Prosecco Spumante DOC Extra Dry Biologico||NV||Gold|
|Fantinel||Fantinel One & Only Prosecco Brut||2019||Silver|
|Bottega||Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco DOC||2019||Silver|
|Maccari||Prosecco DOC Extra Dry Maccari||NV||Silver|
|Giusti Wine||Prosecco DOC Treviso Rosalia||2018||Silver|
|La Marca||Prosecco DOC Treviso Extra Dry Bouquet La Marca||NV||Silver|
|Antonio Facchin & Figli||Prosecco Spumante Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene Millesimato Brut||2018||Silver|
|Conte Collalto||San Salvatore Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Brut||2018||Silver|
|Conte Collalto||Gaio Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Colli del Soligo||Exquisite Collection Prosecco Spumante DOCG||2018||Silver|
|Lidl Ireland||Allini Prosecco Valdobbiadene Conegliano Spumante||2018||Silver|
|Cantine Maschio||Maschio dei Cavalieri Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
Rive di Colbertaldo Brut
|Villa Sandi||Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Biodiversity||NV||Gold|
|Colli del Soligo||Col de Mez Brut||NV||Silver|
|Bacio della Luna||Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Casa Gheller||Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry||NV||Silver|
|Frassinelli Gianluca||Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Rive di San Pietro di Feletto||2018||Bronze|
|Bacio della Luna||Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Brut||2019||Bronze|
|Bosco del Merlo||Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG Brut||NV||Bronze|
|Bacio della Luna||Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Brut||2019||Bronze|
|Vinicola Serena||Scavi & Ray Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG||2019||Bronze|
|Masottina||Conegliano Valdobbiadene Brut Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG
|Conca d’Oro||Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG
Millesimato Spumante Extra Dry
|Villa Sandi||Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Dry Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza||2018||Gold|
|Sacchetto||Presa N° 3 DOCG Prosecco Brut Asolo||2019||Gold|
|Masottina||Masottina Conegliano Valdobbiadene Extra Dry Conegliano
Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore
|Sacchetto||Presa n°3 DOCG Prosecco Brut Asolo||2019||Gold|
|Villa Sandi||Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Millesimato||2019||Silver|
|Ruggeri||GiallOro Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry||NV||Silver|
|Colli del Soligo||Solicum Cuvée Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Cantina Montelliana e dei Colli Asolani||Montelliana 57 Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Cantina Montelliana e dei Colli Asolani||Montelliana Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Dry||2019||Silver|
|Masottina||Masottina Le Rive Di Ogliano Extra Dry Rive Di Ogliano
Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore
|Giusti Wine||Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Brut||NV||Gold|
|Villa Sandi||Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Brut||NV||Silver|
|Masottina||Masottina Contrada Granda Brut Rive Di Ogliano Conegliano
Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore
|La Marca||Prosecco Superiore Millesimato DOCG Brut La Marca Novecento||NV||Silver|
|Cantine Pozzobon Rosalio||Pale Fox Prosecco||NV||Silver|
|Andreola||Dirupo Brut Valdobbiadene DOCG||2019||Master|
|Andreola||Mas de Fer Rive di Soligo Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry||2019||Master|
|Andreola||Vigne dei Piai Rive di Rolle Millesimato Dry Valdobbiadene DOCG||2019||Master|
|Andreola||26° Primo Rive di Col San Martino Valdobiaddene DOCG Brut||2019||Gold|
|Andreola||Col del Forno Rive di Refrontolo Valdobbiadene||2019||Gold|
|Bisol1542||Crede Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut||2019||Bronze|
|Bisol1542||Relio Rive di Guia Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut||2018||Bronze|
Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze DOCG
|Colesel Spumanti||Valdobbiadene DOCG Superiore di Cartizze Brut||2019||Bronze|
|Andreola||Cartizze Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG Dry||2019||Master|
|Bisol1542||Cartizze Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG Dry||2019||Master|
THE BEST DOC PROSECCOS FOR VALUE
1. Zonin Prosecco DOC Cuvée 1821
Residual sugar level: Extra Dry, 13.5g/l
Vintage: Non-vintage Price: £10-£15
A pretty Prosecco with lots of peach and pear fruit flavours and a touch of citrus zest makes this a bitter-sweet Prosecco of great appeal.
THE BEST DOC PROSECCOS FOR VALUE (continued)
2. Bosco dei Cirmioli, Prosecco Spumante DOC, Extra Dry
Producer: Bosco Viticultori
Residual sugar: 15g/l
Masses of peachy aromatics make this an enticing Prosecco from the first sniff. It then delivers lots of ripe pear and apricot fruit, a mouth-filling creamy fizz, some sweetness, and then a chalky finish for refreshment. A fruity, quite sweet, and appealing example that offers a lot of flavour.
THE BEST DOCG PROSECCO FOR VALUE
Maschio dei Cavalieri Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Rive di Colbertaldo, Brut
Producer: Cantine Maschio
Residual sugar level: Brut, 10g/l Vintage: 2019
This DOCG Prosecco hails from one of the region’s highly rated vineyard areas, classified as Rive, and it’s not hard to see why this site, called Colbertaldo, was elevated to such rarified status. Packed with fresh orchard fruits and honeydew melon, and a lovely citrus zest
character, it’s pure and bright, as well as juicy and ripe, and complemented by a lovely creamy-textured fizz. Quite dry by Prosecco standards, this expression delivers more fresh fruit than sweetness, and represents a serious style of Prosecco for a surprisingly affordable price point.
THE BEST PROSECCO FOR REFRESHMENT
Giusti, Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Extra Brut
Producer: Giusti Wine
Residual sugar level: Extra Brut, 3.5g/l
If you’re in the mood for extremely dry Prosecco, then look to the DOCG of Asolo, which naturally produces a riper style of fizz that’s well suited to low levels of sugar. And, among the producers in this small DOCG, Giusti is a benchmark for quality, proven by this almost bone-dry Prosecco with plenty of white flowers, pristine apple and peach fruit, and, despite the lack of sugar, no feeling of firmness.
THE BEST PROSECCO FOR BLING
Residual sugar level: Brut, 11g/l
Housed in a gold-coloured bottle, no Prosecco does bling better than Bottega. But don’t think that it’s all style over substance, as this fizz has repeatedly proven to be a gold- quality product too, with plenty of peachy fruit, a lovely orange zest lift, and a persistent, dry finish. It’s a fruity but not too sweet style of Prosecco with masses of freshness.
THE BEST PROSECCO FOR INDULGENCE
Villa Sandi, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza, Dry
Producer: Villa Sandi
Residual sugar level: Dry, 21g/l
If you are in the mood for something indulgent, with the mouth-filling richness that comes from something a little sweet, then Villa Sandi’s ‘dry’ Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza is a brilliant place to go. As with many of the very best Proseccos, there is quite a high level of sugar in the fizz, but, because of the aromatic, fresh orchard fruit flavours, the drink still refreshes. This Villa Sandi fizz treads
that balance with particular finesse.
THE BEST PROSECCO PRODUCER FOR 2020: ANDREOLA
While we had plenty of names pick up top scores in 2020’s Prosecco Masters, there was one producer that stood out for the sheer quality of its sparkling wines this year, and that was Andreola. Picking up four of the five Masters awarded this year – the ultimate accolade for the very finest samples – it proved an outstanding player in the Prosecco category, leading the charge with its focus on Rive Proseccos, which are bottled to reflect the quality and personality of special sites in the region. Not only were its samples extremely fine, but they covered a range of styles, from the Brut to Dry, as well as the aromatic and richly sweet type of fizz that hails from Cartizze.
THE BEST PROSECCO
Bisol 1542, DOCG Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze
Residual sugar level: Dry, 25g/l Vintage: 2019
The format of the Prosecco Masters allows for plenty of samples to gain top scores in the competition – we award them purely on the basis of quality according to style and price. However, if one were to pick an ultimate fizz from 2020, it would be the top expression from Bisol1542. Hailing from perfectly tended vineyards on the prized sloped of Cartizze, it was packed with so much personality, from ripe notes of pear and peach, to zesty aromas of lemon peel and orange blossom, and while sweet and creamy, it gave a final impression of being bright and cleansing. All it needed was something to serve it with, perhaps an apple tart, or plate of blue cheese.
Judge’s comment: Patrick Schmitt MW
“Once again, this wide-reaching blind tasting has proved why the consumer is right to embrace Prosecco: the category offers a consistently high base standard for a relatively inexpensive entry point, with even the cheapest Proseccos offering plenty of pear-scented, creamy-textured fizz.
“And while basic Prosecco may not be a complex, ageworthy sparkling wine, it delivers exactly what an affordable fizz should – clean, soft, fizzy refreshment.
“The gentle sweetness of Prosecco adds to its appeal, with, it seems, a good balance being struck between the brightness of fresh apple fruit and the softness of residual sugar found between 12g/l and 15g/l. Where the sweetness level is higher, as long as there’s plenty of fresh fruit and citrus zest, sometimes a touch of bitter almond too, the result is the same – Prosecco can still refresh with a relatively high sugar content.
“In the past, I have been a little disappointed by drier styles of Prosecco – such as those with less than 10g/l – because they have tasted a touch hollow. But not this year, where there were some excellent examples with enough ripe peachy fruit to compensate for the lack of sugar. The Asolo DOCG seems a particularly good place for the Brut, even the rare Extra Brut style of Prosecco.
“Finally, I was impressed to see that from more than 100 Proseccos there was just a single case of low-level cork taint, and one oxidised sample, suggesting that the region is producing almost 100% fault-free fizz. And, although the tasting was blind, a scan of the top-scoring bottles highlights something else about Prosecco that adds to its appeal – the packaging is pretty and striking.”
About the competition
The Global Prosecco Masters is a competition created and run by the drinks business, and forms part of its successful Masters series for noble grape varieties, such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; major wine styles, from sparkling to rosé; and famous regions including Rioja, Champagne and Tuscany. The competition is exclusively for Prosecco. The top wines were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those expressions that stood out as being outstanding in their field received the ultimate accolade – the title of Prosecco Master. This report features the medal winners only.
Please visit the Global Masters website for more information, or, to enter future competitions – giving you the chance to feature online and in print – please call: +44 (0) 20 7803 2420 or email Sophie Raichura at: firstname.lastname@example.org