The Prosecco DOC Consortium recently announced that Italy’s most popular sparkler will now come in pink. In May, Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry Policies’ National Wine Committee approved production specifications for Prosecco Rosé. Bottles are expected to arrive on U.S. shelves in early 2021.
Prosecco Rosé must be made with native white grape Glera, the main grape behind Prosecco, and 10–15% Pinot Nero. The second fermentation has to occur in steel tanks, or autoclaves, for at least 60 days. Residual sugar content will range from Brut Nature to Extra Dry. All wines will include the specific vintage and the word “Millesimato” on the label.
The Consortium estimates that total Prosecco Rosé production could eventually account for up to 30 million bottles a year. It will likely replace non-Prosecco DOC rosé sparklers already being produced in the area.
“The producers are happy, it’s a project we’ve been working on for years,” says Stefano Zanette, president of the Consortium. “Our research showed that 57% of the 348 wineries in the DOC Prosecco territory already produce rosé sparkling wines, for their own firms or for third parties, resulting in 37 million bottles of generic rosé sparkling wines [annually].”
However, not everyone is thrilled. Producers in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, a separate appellation located north of Venice, strongly oppose the new designation.
“The Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco DOCG Consortium strongly defends the identity, culture, history and quality of Prosecco. Conegliano Valdobbiadene is the authentic expression of Prosecco and for this reason does not consider the possibility of introducing the “rosé” version in the production regulations,” a representative from the Conegliano Valdobbiadene consortium writes Wine Enthusiast in an email. The statement further notes that Pinot Nero isn’t typically grown in the historical growing zone where Glera is cultivated in Conegliano Valdobbiadene.
Prosecco Rosé “would also be incompatible from a technical point of view, since the traditional corrective practice of blending with Chardonnay and/or Pinots in quantities not exceeding 15%, is intended to complete the wine produced from the Glera grape (at least 85%), and not to distort it,” the representative writes.
Leading Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG producer Primo Franco agrees. Prosecco Rosé “isn’t part of our growing areas, it has never been part of us. It is and will be a purely marketing operation,” he says.
Zanette, the Prosecco DOC president, believes many producers’ concerns will fade with time, and compares the advent of Prosecco Rosé to the introduction of the Martinotti method in the late 1800s. This method revolutionized sparkling wine production by carrying out the secondary fermentation in large tanks. Before this, secondary fermentation to produce bubbles occurred exclusively in the bottle.
“We’re sure that the debate going on in these first steps will subside with the success of the operation,” says Zanette. “Somebody said that something typical is an innovation that has strengthened over time. It is exactly what happened with the introduction of the Martinotti method, which benefitted everybody.”