Just one Veneto

16 November, 2007

Producers are keen to impress on the UK just how important this area is, says Patricia Langton

L eading producers of the ­Prosecco DOC di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene held their first major UK presentation and tasting in London

in a bid to raise awareness for the higher calibre Proseccos of the Veneto.

The UK has been singled out by the consortium

- along with Germany, the US

and Switzerland

- as a key target market for a generic marketing initiative.

Outlining the aims of the new campaign, Franco Adami, president of the DOC Prosecco Consortium, says: "We want to communicate that DOC Prosecco comes from a historic area where the vineyards and production are controlled and that Prosecco isn't just a pleasant sparkling wine - it has different styles."

True variety

The Prosecco DOC di Conegliano-

Valdobbiadene area is

in the northern part of the Veneto in north east Italy. The town of Valdobbiadene is

at its western tip and this area is associated with lighter, fresher styles, while Conegliano, slightly to the south, generally offers a richer style.

The highly regarded Cartizze Proseccos come from the 106ha "cru" vineyards within the Valdobbiadene, an area which has

distinctive climate and soil characteristics.

The DOC extends over 20,000ha of hilly countryside with around 5,000 planted to vines - Prosecco is the leading grape ­variety, though others which can be found in blends (up to 15 per cent) include ­Verdiso, Perera and Bianchetta (all white).

The vines are typically planted on south-facing slopes ranging from 50-500m, where machine harvesting would be difficult and, in fact, it is not permitted.

This is one factor which sets the DOC Proseccos apart from those of the surrounding lower-lying plains, where IGT Proseccos are produced - including Prosecco IGT dei Colli Trevigiani, IGT della Marca Trevigiana and Prosecco IGT del Veneto, the largest of the IGTs.

The other key factor is yield, which inevitably influences the price: the ­maximum yield for DOC di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Prosecco is 130,000kg/ha, whereas it can be double

that for IGT versions. This allows IGT producers to compete at the £7 mark, whereas the DOCs tend to be positioned at £8-plus.

More flexibility over the use of grapes within the IGT production areas means

varieties such as Chardonnay or Merlot and Cabernet (for rosé versions) find their way into blends.

There is, therefore, a potential opportunity for the IGT producers to compete in the buoyant sparkling rosé market in the UK.

A different proposition

Adami also emphasises that Prosecco is a very different proposition to Champagne: "Prosecco doesn't try to compete with Champagne. It has delicate, subtle aromas and it's a sparkling wine to drink while it's fresh, fruity and young."

The style is achieved through the character of the Prosecco grape and through the production method.

In contrast to Champagne,

cava and other traditional method sparkling wines, Prosecco is produced by the Charmat, or tank, method and the second fermentation takes place in the vat rather than the bottle.

A fresh, youthful wine is the aim rather than mature, yeasty flavours, and ­Prosecco is best enjoyed within a year of bottling. It follows that most Proseccos are non-vintage wines.

Importers and wine merchants have seen a growing interest

in Prosecco wines in recent years. At Italian specialist Astrum Wine Cellars, Bruno Besa says: "Prosecco is a great success story. It doesn't try to copy other wines, it stands on its own."

At the Secret Cellar in Tunbrige Wells, Mike Watson adds: "Prosecco sells well and it's price competitive. It's a lovely summer drink and we'll encourage people to buy Prosecco over Christmas."

Watson is considering adding a rosé Prosecco to the range in view of recent success with sparkling rosés .

Who drinks Prosecco? Key facts

After Champagne and cava, Prosecco enjoys the highest level of awareness among the UK's 23.5 million regular wine drinkers - ahead of Asti Spumante or Asti Frizzante

Prosecco drinkers are likely to accept price points of £7-£9

Three out of five drinkers are aged under 45

Around 37 per cent of Prosecco drinkers fall into the category A socio-economic group and 41 per cent are classed as "adventurous consumers"

Prosecco drinkers are more likely to use high street specialists, mail order companies or buy online

than in supermarkets

Recommendations are more important than promotional offers.

Source: Wine Intelligence,

October 2006

Know your categories

Sparkling DOC Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene wines fall into three categories:

Brut: The driest style with residual sugar of 15g per litre.

This style is typically enjoyed throughout the meal in Italy and especially with vegetables, fish and antipasti courses. Wines in the UK: Adami's Bosco di Gica (Astrum Wine Cellars, 020 8870 5252); Bellenda's San Fermo (Les Caves de Pyrène, 01435 38820); Ca' Morlin Prosecco Spumante (Liberty Wines, 020 7720 5350)

Extra Brut: Often described as the "classic Prosecco", this is the style most commonly found in the UK. Typical examples offer a fresh, fruity and soft wine style with a dry finish. Residual sugar of 12-20g. Ideal as an aperitif and to accompany pasta dishes, cheeses and white meats. Wines in the UK: Carpene Malvolti Extra Dry Cuvée (Hallgarten Wines, 01582 406452); Conte Collalto Extra Dry (Thorman Hunt, 020 7735 6511); Gregoletto Extra Dry Monte Corbino (Alivini, 020 8880 2525); La Marca Extra Dry Cuvée (Thierry's Wines, 01794 507100)

The Cartizze: Cartizze Proseccos, the finest of all, are almost always dry and are the most complex wines, as their deeper golden colour suggests. Residual sugar 17-35g per litre. Traditionally enjoyed with pastries and desserts. Wines in the UK: La Tordera Dry Cru (Mille Gusti Fine Italian Wines, 020 8997 3932).

IGT Proseccos in the UK include Ca' Morlin's Prosecco dei Colli Trevigiani sealed with a crown cap (Liberty Wines).

Christmas crackers

Piper-Heidsieck has gone topsy-turvy with a new gift box which holds its limited-edition Rosé Sauvage Champagne upside down. The box is designed by Dutch duo Viktor & Rolf, and other versions hold an ice bucket and a Champagne flute upside down.

Anglo-Hellenic Services says you should go Greek this festive season with Cair Rosé 10 Year Réserve, which it describes as having a satiny mouth with red fruit and roasted almond aromas, or Cair Brut, which a nose of apricots and brioche. Call 01684 578786 or visit greekexperienceuk.co.uk to find out more.

Great Western Wine has boosted its Champagne portfolio with 100 per cent Pinot Meunier Champagne Moutardier Carte d'Or Brut NV (£16.95), Pinot Meunier/Chardonnay blend Champagne Moutardier Cuvée Sélection Brut NV (£19.95), traditional Champagne blend Zoemie de Sousa Brut Merveille NV (£22.95) and an organic Champagne, De Sousa Blanc de Blancs Réserve NV.

Champagne Montaudon has designed a white gift bag with a carry-strap for its Classe M cuvée (£40).

Pernod Ricard is sampling Montana Brut Cuvée in supermarkets in the run-up to Christmas. It is also offering cash and carries pallet display units for Jacob's Creek and GH Mumm Champagne. Mumm has also launched a "travel canister" gift box with a carry-strap in Selfridges (£23.99).

How are Prosecco, cava and other sparkling wines doing for you?

"Prosecco is our top-selling sparkling wine. It is great for parties and aperitifs, because you can't drink a lot of Champagne without food. I think Tesco and Sainsbury's have killed cava by making it £2.99 and £3.99. How the Spanish ever let that happen I don't know ."

Nick Burton, manager, Roberson Wines

"Sparkling wines from the rest of the world are performing very well, with rosé growing 32 per cent year on year, despite the weather . During the summer

we

launched a Prosecco rosé from Valdo,

which has been very popular. We

also increased our range of sparkling wines

with the aim of bringing some more interesting, quality

wines from all over the world to the UK customer .

"We

developed two new Taste the Difference fizzes

- a delicious Prosecco from Conegliano, and a delightful, delicate rosé, made predominantly from Pinot Noir, from Chapel Down."

Melissa Draycott, category range planner, Sainsbury's

"Our new lines include McGuigan Selection Sparkling Rosé and Yellowglen Pink Sparkling Rosé from Australia, Montana Sparkling Brut from New Zealand and Chapel Down Sparkling from England.

Australian and New Zealand wines benefit from the trail blazed by Jacob's Creek and Lindauer, but English Wines still need some explaining ."

Phil Edwards, Champagne buyer, Threshers

"Our key new listing is a sparkling Pinot Grigio rosé from Araldica which has been very successful and is already our third best-selling sparkling rosé. We have also listed a Brachetto d'Acqui, Duchy Originals Organic Sparkling from England's Davenport Vineyard, and Jacob's Creek 20cls, which have been very popular.

"Overall, our sparkling wine sales are 33 per cent up in value but this is led by Jacob's Creek, Marqués de Monistrol cavas and promotions.

"Growth of sparkling rosé is even higher at 65 per cent. Prosecco is up by 12 per cent and has become quite trendy. I will be looking at a more premium wine for the range as a result."

Sally Holloway, wine buyer, Booths




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