At the recent 2011 Taste of London wine awards, Riccardo Prosecco was awarded the Taste of Summer wine award. It was a tough competition, over 80 wines were blind tasted one early Wednesday morning and after much discussion and to-ing and fro-ing, Riccardo Prosecco won the day. Riccardo was up against some to
ugh competitors but at the end of the day we decided it would indeed be the wine that was most emblematic of the Taste of Summer.
The first time I had Riccardo prosecco was last summer at a secret supper club. I had never heard of them but was surprised at the quality of the wines. As I recall, I found them to be quite substantial wines, not just your run of the mill, slightly sweet, fizzy white wines. These were proseccos with a backbone, wines that were not just for aperitivo-quaffing but could also be enjoyed with a meal.
I liked the wines but never really ran across them again and filed the name away. That is until this past April when I found myself on a holiday in the Veneto region. The Veneto is just a hop,skip, and a jump away from the prosecco producing region of Treviso so I hopped on a train and an hour and a half later, I was at the foot of steep hills of the ConeglianoValdobbiadene DOCG, chatting with Roberto Fornasier, the son of one of the brothers who own Riccardo Prosecco. Riccardo prosecco is in memory of the father of the brothers.
Did you know that the grape to make prosecco is not called prosecco? I didn’t know that until I visited Treviso and the prosecco producing region of Valdobbiadene DOC recently. Up until 2009, prosecco was the name of the grape but because so many other regions were hijacking the name prosecco and calling any Italian sparkling wine prosecco, whether or not the wine was actually made from the prosecco grape, the Italian government decided to take action. They went back to one of the original names of prosecco, glera and designated a DOC and DOCG region in the Treviso region between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano.
The hills of Valdobbiadene are covered in strings of vines, going up and down the steep hillsides. There are thousands of vines within this relatively small region of Treviso. Roberto and his uncle, Claudio Fornasier, took me up amongst the hills to have a look at the vines all of which were already in full vine. One of the most important things that Riccardo stresses is that they know where all their grapes come from, something that is not always true in the prosecco growing region. Riccardo have a traceability certification which means they know where all their grapes come from, the farmers, the land, what’s used on the vines, etc. They are not organic but try to use as little chemicals as possible.
Sipping their proseccos overlooking the vines during lunch was a great way to see the differences between all their proseccos. They produce proseccos with varying degress of sweetness. My favourite had to be the extra dry, still good fruit but not sweet, good body and fine bubbles, not a champagne but softer. This was a wine that was perfect for a summer day even if I live in the unpredictable weather of an English summer.