Sunday, 4 March 2012

Italia Prosecco “Collezione” Brut DOC (NV)

Prosecco (such as this Italia Prosecco “Collezione” Brut) is the fastest growing sparkling wine in the UK (in terms of market share) at the moment. Typically substantially less expensive and less dry than Champagne (the sparkling wine that most shoppers view as a direct alternative for special occasion and summer’s day drinking) Prosecco not only appeals to the wallet of shoppers, but also their taste buds.

Made exclusively from the Glera grape, grown in vineyards near to Treviso in North East Italy, Prosecco (such as this Italia Prosecco “Collezione” Brut) despite the constant comparisons with Champagne, is in fact quite a different style of sparkling wine. Champagne, for example is (typically) a blend of three grape varieties (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay) whereas Prosecco (such as this Italia Prosecco “Collezione” Brut) is made from just Glera. This results in Champagne offering a complex mix of flavours in the mouth, whereas Prosecco tends to be simpler and more fruity.

While Champagne is fermented twice (the second time in the bottle) in order to generate bubbles, Prosecco (such as this Italia Prosecco “Collezione” Brut) is fermented once, in a vacuum sealed stainless steel tank in order to generate it’s bubbles. This results in bubbles which are typically slightly larger in Prosecco, than in Champagne and a slightly higher alcohol content for Champagne (typically 12.5-13% abv) versus Prosecco’s 11.5-12.5% abv. Fermentation in bottle also adds different flavours such as toast and brioche to Champagne, which are not present in Prosecco.

In fact, despite the fact that Prosecco and Champagne are both sparkling wines made in Europe (and the fact that they are often placed next to each other in wine shops and supermarkets), the key to appreciating and enjoying Prosecco, is first to understand that it is completely different to Champagne!

The maker of this particular “Italia” Prosecco is Adria Vini. Formed in 2003 as a joint venture between Araldica (one of Italy’s leading co-operative winemakers) and UK importer Boutinot, Adria Vini own a range of brands that are sold in the UK (of which “Italia” is one such brand). These Italia wines typically fill the value end of the price range in UK supermarkets and wine merchants.

Chief winemaker at Adria Vini is Claudio Manera and he is the man who crafts this "Italia" Prosecco.

Sourced from 17 year old Glera vines from near to Treviso, the grapes destined for this "Italia" Prosecco were hand-picked before being transported to the Adria Vini winery for vinification. Here the grapes for this "Italia" Prosecco were gently pressed prior to fermentation in temperature controlled (air tight) steel tanks. After fermentation was complete, this "Italia" Prosecco was bottled under pressure to prevent the bubbles dissipating prior to it being opened in your kitchen/dining room/garden. This "Italia" Prosecco is vinified in the “spumante” (i.e. full sparkling) style, rather than the “frizzante” (i.e. lightly sparkling) manner in which some Prosecco is vinified.

In the glass, this "Italia" Prosecco is a clear (i.e. non-faulty) and pale lemon colour. Consistent in colour across the glass, several streams of bubbles rise quickly from the base of the glass of this "Italia" Prosecco. The alcoholic content of this "Italia" Prosecco is 11.5%, which is typical for Prosecco. (This is a little lower than what you would expect to see in most Champagne).

On the nose, this "Italia" Prosecco is clean (i.e. non-faulty), light and fragrant. Fruity in style, simple but appealing lemon notes waft upwards from the glass of this "Italia" Prosecco, along with a little peach. Due to the single fermentation that has created this "Italia" Prosecco, there are no autolytic notes of yeast or toast displayed.

Once in mouth, this "Italia" Prosecco is light to medium bodied, with a lovely fruity personality. Restrained but zesty lemon and peach are again the prominent flavours of this "Italia" Prosecco, although the most striking characteristic of this "Italia" Prosecco is its lovely creamy mouthfeel. A soft and caressing mousse rolls across your tongue as the flavours dance across it. On the one hand, you could accuse this "Italia" Prosecco of being a very simple style of wine, however on the other hand, you could certainly say that this "Italia" Prosecco has a textural sophistication that is second to none. The fact there is only a moderate level of acidity in this "Italia" Prosecco is key here, as more prominent acidity would have ruined what is a perfectly balanced and textured palate.

In summary, this "Italia" Prosecco is a wine that is smooth and very well balanced, but also quite simple in its flavours. That said, all Prosecco tends to exhibit more straightforward flavours than sparkling wine that has been doubly fermented to create its bubbles, it is simply a by-product of the winemaking process to which producers of Prosecco are bound by Italian law. This should not be held against this "Italia" Prosecco. Not only does this relatively simplistic character (along with very well controlled acidity) make this "Italia" Prosecco particularly easy to drink, the perfectly balanced mouthfeel of this "Italia" Prosecco is the sign of an accomplished sparkling wine.

Pairing this "Italia" Prosecco with food is certainly not necessary – this "Italia" Prosecco is very enjoyable alone and will certainly have a broad appeal when consumed in this way (a park and a summer’s day would be the perfect accompaniment)! A traditional food pairing from Treviso though is Panettone, which is typically dipped into the Prosecco after successful business meetings. If your place of work will not permit this, this "Italia" Prosecco will also pair well with fresh salads and lightly flavoured seafood.

In terms of value, at £12 per bottle this "Italia" Prosecco does seem a little more expensive than most Prosecco that is on the market. However, given that this is wine is widely available through a large UK supermarket and that spring is now approaching, it might be expected that this is seen on promotion sometime soon. It is also worth noting that an “Italia Prosecco” seems to appear listed online at several merchants (albeit with a slightly different label design) priced at around £8.50 per bottle.
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Italia Prosecco “Collezione” Brut DOC (NV)

Score: 84/100 – An accomplished Prosecco that will make for wonderful drinking this summer.

Value for Money: 6/10 – Overpriced at £12 per bottle, seemingly available with a different label design at reduced price.
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