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Wine column: Summer is a good excuse to pause for Prosecco

Canadians have a fondness for anything Italian, especially if its name begins with “P.
A star among Proseccos, the Val d’Oca Valdobbiadene DOCG Extra Dry

Canadians have a fondness for anything Italian, especially if its name begins with “P.” 

There’s pasta, parmigiana, Prada and Prosecco! If there was any excuse to pause for a sip of Prosecco, summertime is perfetto (perfect)!

When it’s sunny and hot and you feel rather carefree, this effervescent bubbly fits the bill.

Prosecco is produced from Prosecco (aka Glera) grapes in the Veneto region of Italy, between Venice and the Dolomites in the north. Unlike Champagne, which gets produced in the bottle, Prosecco is made in bulk tanks by the Charmat process. As a result, its prices are a fraction of Champagne, beginning at $14.99.

Like most wines, there are levels of quality and prices with Prosecco.

The entry level is DOC and there are 28 Proseccos of this type in BCLDB stores.

Last weekend, I purchased a bottle of LamarcA Prosecco for $16.99.

I popped the cork on this LamarcA on a hot afternoon as I was cooking a Chicken Tikka Masala.

I loved the floral and fruit aroma and the golden delicious apple, peach, and honeysuckle flavour.

While it is effervescent, it does not have the persistent bubbles of its expensive cousin, Champagne.

Ironically, it is labeled “Extra Dry,” which actually has a bit of sweetness in the finish, unlike “Brut” which is actually the driest category.

At a wonderful Prosecco tasting sponsored by the Valdobbiadene Prosecco Consortium, I learned that there is a higher level with Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG on the label.

It’s a hilly region in Italy’s Veneto with 43 villages or Rive where the grapes are picked by hand. So unique is this small region that it has applied for UNESCO World Heritage status.

At the tasting, I asked Guilia Pussini from the consortium why Prosecco is so popular these days.

“Prosecco is now appreciated in more than 80 countries around the world,” Pussini boasted.

 “It’s a wine whose characteristics are very approachable, very easy to drink. It’s versatile and can be paired with any kind of food,” said Pussini.

“For example, not only Italian cuisine, but also Asian foods like tempura. Or with spicy Chinese cuisine or dim sum. Or with fish, like salmon.

“You don’t have to have a big knowledge of wine to appreciate (it). It’s young, fresh, fruity, floral and pleasant. If you have more knowledge about wine, you can appreciate the differences there are between the different Rive, which originates in only one municipality.

“It’s a way discover the differences due to soil, climate, and altitude. Everyone can find something interesting and pleasant in our wine.”

Among the six DOCG Proseccos tasted, Val d’Oca Extra Dry Rive di Colbertaldo 2015 ($27.99 at the BCLDB) was really impressive.

It is elegant and refined with aromas of orange peel, apple, and wisteria. The bubbles are fine and persistent and there is a balance of lightness, softness and a touch of sweetness held in check by the crisp acidity.

Select private stores and agencies also stock these DOCG Proseccos: Bisol, Terre di San Venanzio Fortunato and Villa Sandi. Salut!

Eric Hanson is retired Richmond teacher and wine educator

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