Prosecco DOC producers are on the brink of allowing sparkling rosé within their appellation, marrying two of the biggest trends in the wine world.
A vote in Treviso, the beautiful pre-Roman town of 33 fountains, on 9 May saw board members of the Prosecco DOC Consorzio back a proposal to devise rules for making rosé by allowing red wine in the blend.
Prosecco DOC wines can currently be produced with a maximum of 15% Pinot Noir, but the red grape must be used only to create white wine.
If given final approval, following the 9 May vote, winemakers would be allowed to mix the signature Prosecco grape, Glera, with Pinot Noir to create Prosecco rosé within the DOC.
It is a development that ‘blends’ two of the fastest growing areas of the wine world, especially in Prosecco’s key UK market.
The idea of Prosecco rosé has been smouldering for few years among producers, only to mature today with the increasing sales in the export markets. Rosé is still a niche market at home in Italy.
‘Today is the right time to produce Prosecco rosé,’ said Stefano Zanette, president of Prosecco DOC.
‘This is not a ploy. Pinot Noir is a noble grape and the new category will be reserved for the best quality “spumante” versions, not the fizzy “frizzante” ones,’ he told Decanter.com. He said that it was part of a move to increase quality.
Gianluca Bisol, head of the eponymous producer, said: ‘Rosé is a natural direction for Prosecco and the increasing recognition of its quality. The risk is that we should be careful to avoid more price pressure for Prosecco after two years of grape shortages.’
The new category has the potential to become a significant proportion of total production.
Around one million litres of Pinot Noir are currently produced as still white wine each year.
‘I think [rosé] could easily become 20% of our production,’ said Giancarlo Moretti Polegato, the owner of Villa Sandi and one of the enthusiasts for the new challenge.
‘It will add value to the denomination. We want to plant more Pinot Noir. It will become an advantage for our grape growers, too, helping to avoid monoculture in the vineyards with only Glera or Pinot Grigio.’
However, several critics exist within the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG, which represents many of the highest quality Prosecco wines.
‘I don’t see the opportunity since Prosecco rosé has no historical base,’ said the former president of the DOCG council, Franco Adami.
‘We risk confusing consumers. Do it anyway, but not with the name Prosecco,’ he said.
Even if approved, wine lovers may have to wait to celebrate with Prosecco rosé.
‘We are not completely confident in our ability to be able to change the DOC regulations before this harvest, but we will be ready for next year,’ said Stefano Zanette.
In 2017, official figures show that 440 million bottles of Prosecco DOC were produced, plus 90 million labelled as Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG and 10 million as Asolo Prosecco DOCG. Three quarters of production is intended for export, of which 33% is shipped to the UK.
Editing by Chris Mercer