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How to make sugarless Prosecco shine

Giusti has specialised in the production of dry Prosecco, and its latest release, an almost sugarless fizz, has seen painstaking techniques applied to create a serious sparkling result.

With almost all sparkling wine benefitting from a little sweetness to offset the combination of popping bubbles and high-acid grapes, should a producer choose to craft a bone-dry expression, then the wine must be fine and soft to ensure the fizz is not thin and bitter.

And one skilled maker of Prosecco, Giusti, has worked especially hard to perfect not just dry Prosecco, but the Ultra Brut style – which means that the fizz has 6 grams per litre of sugar, or lower.

Considering most Prosecco is made in an Extra Dry style, which has between 12 and 17g/l of sugar, going to such a low level represents a big change, and, if not done well, could disappoint the regular drinker of this popular Italian fizz – a product that has built its success on its slightly-sweet character.

But Giusti’s low-sugar expressions are made to such a high standard, they show the appealing possibilities of bone-dry Prosecco, while creating a style with great versatility – a fizz that would serve well as a refreshing aperitif, but also pair wonderfully with delicate seafood dishes.

The latest fizz from Giusti is called Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Brut by Graziana Grassini, after the respected Italian oenologist that helped in the crafting of this fine fizz.

Notably, the Prosecco contains almost no sugar whatsoever, with less than 1g/l present in the fizz, and yet it is an enjoyable, mouth-filling sparkling wine, without a hard acidity, or hollow mid-palate – characters that can beset bone-dry drops.

Indeed, when I tasted it ‘blind’, meaning that I was not aware of its sugar-level, I sensed it was a dry style, but never thought it was virtually sugar-free – and you can see my note on the wine below.

So how have Giusti created such a Prosecco? Well, the starting point is the sourcing of the grapes. Importantly, Giusti is located in the Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, a smaller area than the better-known DOCG of Valdobbiadene Conegliano.

Less famous Asolo may be, but high-quality it certainly is, and, with vineyards on the sun-baked slopes of the Montello Hills, the region tends to yield a rich style of wine, with layers of flavour, from white-fleshed peach to Comice pear.

In the case of this specialist Extra Brut by Graziana Grassini, the Glera grapes are taken from a particular site, the sloping vineyard of Tenuta Aria Valentina, which benefits from bright, warm days and cool, breezy evenings – the latter due to fresh air from the Piave river valley.

As for the handling of the grapes, not only are the best bunches selected and then hand picked in the vineyard, but they are harvest in the early hours of the morning to preserve their freshness, and then whole bunch pressed, softly, to release only the cleanest and sweetest juices from the berries.

Following fermentation, the wine is left on its lees for six months, an important measure to impart a creamy flavour and texture, and another reason why this bone-dry fizz is enjoyable to drink.

So next time you choose a Prosecco, you might want to consider trying a drier style. And if you do, seek out something from Asolo, and bear in mind that Giusti has become the master of the low-sugar cuvée.

Giusti, Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Extra Brut by Graziana Grassini

An inviting, youthful, clean nose with notes of ripe lemon, fresh pear, peach and a touch of cream. On the palate there’s an appealing mix of crisp apple and citrus zest with some riper notes of peach, pear and a hint of honeydew melon. Flavour-wise, it’s intense, and there’s a creamy-texture from fine-stream of persistent bubbles. The finish is tangy, fresh and dry, with a lingering note of orange peel and grapefruit pith, and a touch of chalk too. In short, a creamy but clean and refreshing fizz. (Patrick Schmitt MW, July 2023)

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