Rosy Future for Prosecco

By Jack Brostrom
March 28, 2021
Posted August 26, 2020; updated July 19, 2021

Math question: If you’re feeling like having some Prosecco and your friend wants a rosé, how many different wines do you need?

This is one of those happy instances where 1 + 1 = 1.

Introducing Prosecco Rosé, arriving in quantity just in time for this first summer of the new Roaring Twenties.

Prior to late 2020, the rules of all three Prosecco denominations permitted only white wines, although some Prosecco producers did make pink sparkling wine before that—labeled simply as Vino Spumante, never actually saying the word Prosecco on the label.

In any event, the rules for Prosecco DOC have been changed, officially allowing a rosé style of Prosecco. The rosé-ness comes from the addition of 10–15 percent Pinot Nero (aka Pinot Noir) to the base wine made, as always, from at least 85 percent Glera. The new Prosecco DOC rosé wines must be vintage dated and can be produced in the brut nature to extra dry range. The consorzio estimates that production of the new style will start off in the range of 1.7 million cases (!).

Note that this new wine category applies only to Prosecco DOC—the larger denomination that includes most of Veneto and all of Friuli–Venezia Giulia. The Prosecco DOCGs in Veneto (Conegliano Valdobbiadene and Asolo) have not followed suit, as their reputations are based on traditional styles. And anyway, very little Pinot Nero is grown in the hilly terrain of the DOCGs, where they have customarily focused on Glera. (Ed. note: As of July 2021, Asolo Prosecco DOCG is moving ahead with the idea of a sparkling rosé, pushed mainly by the larger producers, while the new president of Conegliano Valdobbiadene’s consorzio Elvira Bortolomiol says, “It’s not on our discussion table.”)

Even in the DOC, not everyone was in favor of the idea, unhappy that this new product line was moving Prosecco too far away from its original identity. But others do not see a rosé version—quite common in lots of sparkling wine regions around the world—as a threat to the denomination’s reputation.

Among the producers on record as looking forward to this new opportunity were Zonin, Villa Sandi, and Bottega. All three already had pink sparkling wines in their portfolios that were labeled simply “sparkling wine of Italy” (vino spumante di qualità) because they could not be labeled as Prosecco. Replacing those vino spumante wines, or adding to their line, with true rosé Proseccos should bring a nice boost in sales.

The new Prosecco Rosé rules require a minimum of 60 days of fermentation, likely resulting in a yeastier and somewhat richer profile than the white versions (which have no minimum fermentation time but typically ferment for no more than 30 days to emphasize the fruity characteristics of the Glera). The new specifications for the rosé also set January 1 following the grapes’ harvest as the earliest release date—which seems like an unfortunate choice of dates since it means the new vintage will not be available until after Christmas and New Year’s Eve (unless the goal is to help clear out last year’s vintage from retail stocks).

The 2020s are available now, so give them a try.

Wineglass photo courtesy of Bottega SpA

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