Prosecco from the Veneto region of Italy is an easy-to-drink, slightly bubbly, lower-alcohol wine that can be rather boring or very pretty. At the high end you tend to find the better examples (duh…).
The grape itself used to be called Prosecco, and the category has been growing exponentially in the US for many years. For example, according to data from ©Symphony IRI for the 52 weeks ending 1/19/14, in the US market the Prosecco category grew more than 34% in 2013. Because of this Prosecco grapes began to be grown in many other places.
In 2009 in order to protect their investment in this fast-growing category, the region decided to go back to the original name of Glera for the grape. It kept the name Prosecco as it was the region name and couldn't be used elsewhere.
Since I have had not-so-great experiences with Prosecco, I tend to avoid it. So it was with some trepidation that I had dinner with the La Marca Winemaker Fabrizio Gatto even though the invitation came from someone of whom I think very highly.
Fabrizio grew up in central Italy, where his father owned a small vineyard. At age 14 he was accepted into the viticulture program at the Conegliano Veneto School of Enology in the heart of the Prosecco capital of Italy, Treviso. He augmented his studies at the R.H. Phillips and Martin Brothers Wineries in California. Then he went back to Europe to continue his studies.
The three of us dined at Morelino on a Sunday night, which is their suckling-pig night. We drank a few different wines with dinner, but I was especially impressed with the Prosecco. Who knew how beautifully it would pair with suckling pig?
That’s because Fabrizio Gatto creates his base wine with a low alcohol level. This happens if the grapes are picked when sugar is lower and acidity is higher. This gives the final wine more crispness or structure than I often see in Prosecco. The crispness and the soft bubbles are what made his wine shine with the suckling pig.
Because the wine is not made in the more complicated way that Champagne is made, you can expect to find softer bubbles and lots of yummy primary fruit, like apricots, pears and peaches. La Marca Prosecco runs around $15 in New York City and Westchester, which is a nice price for a better-than-expected wine.