All too often prosecco can leave you wishing for more flavour and depth. These three bottles will give a good champagne a run for its money
Salatin Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Extra Dry, Italy NV (£9.99, Majestic) Most wine merchants have mixed feelings about prosecco. Like its fellow northeastern Italian success story, pinot grigio, the soft and airy, cheaper fizz is too popular for them to ignore – it’s been outselling champagne for the past couple of years now. But if it’s a bubbling profit machine, it’s one they use with reluctance. As one supermarket buyer said to me, “too many proseccos are all front, but fade to nothing”. Drinking it is like eating sherbet: an immediate mouth-filling frothy hit with no depth or length. Even the better examples fit that description to some extent. But when they add a little more verve and floral-herbal interest, as in Salatin’s example, to me the result feels more like charming uncomplicated frivolity than air-headed emptiness.
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Conegliano Prosecco Superiore, Italy 2014 (£10) When stories began circulating earlier this year that the tricky 2014 vintage in the Veneto might herald a shortage of prosecco this summer, the merchants I spoke to were all pretty much unanimous in seeing it as an opportunity to sell something more “interesting”. The crémants of French regions such as the Loire, Burgundy and Limoux in the Languedoc; Franciacorta from Lombardy in Italy; Australian and English fizz; and Spanish cava were each capable of something deeper, more complex, and, crucially, more like champagne. Prosecco is always going to suffer in any comparison with the great French region since, unlike most other sparkling wines, it’s made in a way that doesn’t even try to emulate champagne. Better, then, to judge the icing-sugar soft sweetness and creamy pear fruit of Sainsbury’s superior own-label on its own light-and-easy terms.
Casa Belfi Colfondo Prosecco, Italy 2012 (£14.99, Joseph Barnes Wines) While there is a certain interchangeability to much mass-market prosecco, there are producers aiming for something more individualistic. My two favourite examples are perhaps best thought of as bottle-conditioned craft ales in a context of conventional mass-produced lager, with the second, fizz-giving fermentation taking place in the bottle rather than in a large tank (as is the case in most prosecco). Unfiltered, they don’t have the pristine clarity of supermarket bottles, but, in their different ways, both Casa Belfi Colfondo and Casa Coste Piane di Loris Follador Prosecco di Valdobbiadene NV (£14.99, Field & Fawcett) combine prosecco’s irresistible joie de vivre with extra layers of fruit, floral and savoury flavour.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010