Cheers to the end of summer: The best prosecco to sip on

If you were at a wedding in the last few years, chances are that you were served prosecco.

Cheers to the end of summer: The best prosecco to sip on

If you were at a wedding in the last few years, chances are that you were served prosecco.

Ireland has fallen utterly for this light peachy fizz from northeastern Italy and we are now an important market despite our low population.

Prosecco sales have grown worldwide and Unesco recently awarded the region world heritage status just as it has to Champagne, Burgundy and Piedmont in recent years.

I recently spent some time in the region courtesy of the Dal Bianco family whose Masottina Prosecco is one of the best I’ve tasted.

I have not always been enthusiastic about prosecco on this page but any criticism has only ever been aimed at the light fizz frizzante version which is taxed the same as still wine, unlike spumante and champagne which are double taxed at €6.37 per bottle plus Vat.

The Unesco award was given to Le Colline del Prosecco di Conegliano e Valdobbiadene as the best Prosecco comes from the small hills around the towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene where vines are grown on narrow grassy terraces called ‘ciglione’.

The top Prosecco region is the small nearby sub-region of Cartizze followed by the Rive di Ogliano but sadly you don’t see much of these in Ireland. Most prosecco here is simple DOC from the greater province of Treviso and other municipalities.

The grape for these wines used to be known as prosecco but that is now the name of the region so Glera is its new name. Masottina controls about 350 hectares of vineyards, mainly near Conegliano which is 55km north of Venice.

The Alps are 60km away from which there is a natural channel created by an ancient glacier that allows cool breezes to flow into the vineyard helping the grapes to ripen at the correct pace.

I must confess to being quite charmed by the silky texture and pure fruity elegance of Masottina’s range of prosecco, especially its single vineyard Rive di Ogliano versions.

Masottina’s importer Classic Drinks sells mainly to the on-trade so look in better independents.

Also watch for its excellent still wine range under the Ai Palazzi label.

BEST VALUE UNDER €15

Masottina Prosecco Frizzante, Italy — €14.99-€17.99

Stockists: Ardkeen Stores, Whelehans, La Touche, Jus de Vine, Redmonds, Blackrock Cellar

Masottina primarily makes its frizzante for the Irish market where we double-tax fizz (and celebrations). While this has a firmer texture than the spumante it also has pleasing bright pear and apple fruits and a good amount of lemon peel acidity and lingering peach notes. Serve chilled.

Albiano Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico, Italy — €11.95

Stockist: O’Briens

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from the Marches in central Italy used to be a lot more visible in Irish wine shops but seems to have been usurped by pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc.

This is on offer in O’Briens at the moment down from €15 and has lots of bright juicy citrus fruits mixed with green apple and pear. Perfect refreshing summer drink.

Solicello Pinot Grigio IGP, Italy — €14.95

Stockists: Mills Inn Ballyvourney, Hole in The Wall Dublin

Pinot grigio is much maligned (often by me!) but given the heat of recent weeks sometimes you want a light fruity wine that doesn’t tax the brain too much. This has a decent stone fruit and floral aroma with a crisp refreshing

BEST VALUE OVER €15

Masottina Conegliano-Valdobbiadene DOCG, Italy — €34

Stockists: Ardkeen Stores, La Touche, Whelehans, Jus de Vine, Redmonds, Blackrock Cellar

This is one of the best introductions to proper prosecco made from glera from vineyards near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, tank-fermented and bottled under pressure. Aromas of ripe pear, apple and melon, silky and refreshing on the palate with sultanas and dried fruits. Delicious.

Masottina Prosecco Spumante Organico, Italy — €33

Stockists: Ardkeen Stores, Whelehans, La Touche, Jus de Vine, Redmonds, Blackrock Cellar

Masottina is increasing its organic vineyard holdings and encouraging its contract growers to do likewise. Floral, lemon peel and apple aromas, ripe pear and apricot flavours on the palate, elegant soft mousse and decent acidity with lingering green apple touches on the finish.

Fontodi Chianti Classico 2016, Tuscany, Italy — €29.99

Stockists: Eldons Clonmel, Bean n Berry Wexford, Redmonds, Sweeneys, Jus de Vine, Terroirs, The Corkscrew www.thecorkscrew.ie

Fontodi has always been one of the most reliable Chianti producers and this 2014 is no exception. This is a crowd-pleasing Chianti with smoky fruit balanced by acidity and elegance. Serve this a little cooler if you wish as it will work better with food.

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