Here at The Motley Cru, we (and by ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) am not given to discrimination, pretension, bigotry, and/or any other words you would care to use that allude to a state of mind where I outright condemn a grape varietal, country, region and/or method for its sake alone. I’m an equal-opportunities drinker, and believe all wines should be approached in their own right with all baggage left at the door, as I’m sure most concerning wine lovers do.
That said I do have an issue with Prosecco, at least the stuff that’s readily available here in Ireland. Firstly, a quick couple of facts:
1) Duty on ‘sparkling wine’ – which covers everything from Champagne, Cava, New World fizz and, yes, Prosecco – attracts exactly double the duty than still wine here in Ireland; a whopping €5.56 per bottle before VAT in fact. Why this is the case completely eludes me; perhaps the only sparkling wine that the mandarins in Dáil Éireann are used to is Champagne that routinely retails above €50 and where an extra €5 or so wouldn’t make much of a dent to their expense accounts, all the while not being cognisant of how much of a difference that sum can make to a €14-€15 Cava, for example. Either way we’re stuck with it, and it was made all the worse by the incredibly brutal increase in wine duty in the recent budget, which everyone knows increased the excise on a bottle of wine by €1, but not many realise that following from above this means an increase of €2 per bottle of bubbly. A pitiful situation, but there you have it.
2) Prosecco comes in two styles: fully sparkling (‘Spumante‘) and lightly sparkling (‘Frizzante‘). Only the Spumante falls under the duty band for sparkling wine, while Frizzante is considered a still wine as it doesn’t have the full pressure to categorise it as a fully sparkling wine. Ever needed to use a corkscrew to remove a cork from a bottle of fizz instead of it just popping? That’s a Frizzante fizz for you.
The result is, you’ve guessed it, that we see far more Frizzante Prosecco here than Spumante since the final price on shelf is going to be at few Euro cheaper than its sister wine. As such Frizzante Prosecco is often under the psychologically important €10 mark (or at least regularly promoted to this level), with all other fully sparkling wines firmly trapped above it.
The problem with this is that the bubbles, being only semi-sparkling, tend to fizz out very quickly, often leaving you with some insipid flabby fruit juice in the glass, and at which point I become rankled, again, by the stuff. But it’s cheap, and it’s the economy stupid, so Frizzante Prosecco is bought by the lorryload all over Ireland.
So imagine my surprise when I was handed (with my eyes rolling I must admit) a glass of Prosecco at a function recently, only to be taken aback by its quality: it was rich, toasty, interesting, and what’s more fully sparkling, a rarity where volume and cost are issues. I rushed to find out what it was I had been served: Mionetto Vivo, a new Spumante readily available in O’Brien’s, and though it wasn’t sub-€10 it was only €11 on promo – result!
I later bought a bottle and enjoyed it at home, and proudly pronounced that I had found my ‘Cava-killer’, the Spanish sparkling that was heretofore my go-to for easy weekday (read: cheap) fizz.
But then Google threw up an uncomfortable reality: it wasn’t actually Prosecco at all. Prosecco is made with the Glera grape, whereas Mionetto Vivio is made with the unusual combination of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Verduzzo and Pinot Blanc, so not Prosecco per se, though it is from a renowned Prosecco producer and from the same region.
Still, this is still a fantastic fizz and will most certainly be my sparkler of choice for easy entertaining, especially when O’Brien’s run it at 2 for €22, which they often will I’m sure.