Here’s a little wine-trivia quiz for you.
Which country is the world’s leading producer of wine?
Well done if you said Italy.
The next one’s trickier. What’s Italy’s biggest-producing region?
The answer’s Veneto (narrowly beating Tuscany), which makes around 18% of the nation’s DOC wines.
And lastly, what’s Veneto’s most famous viticultural export?
Well, this one’s more open to debate, but I’d say Prosecco, for sure.
Prosecco And The Veneto Region
I fell in love with northern Italy during my first-ever press trip. It was to the Emilia-Romagna region, where the locals are proud of their lightly-sparkling Lambrusco wine. But the adjoining region of Veneto, just to the north-east of Emilia-Romagna, has a far more widely recognised brand of fizz. It’s the world’s second-best known, after a certain French variety (the name of which temporarily escapes me).
Veneto (within which lies Venice, in case you didn’t guess) isn’t just known for Prosecco though. In fact, it’s a bit of a wine student’s nightmare, being home to a diverse (some would say “confusing”) array of wine varieties, from Soave to Valpolicella. But I’ll return to cover those at a later date. For now, let’s chat about…
Bosco Del Merlo Prosecco
Prosecco is made from the Glera grape, within the protected Prosecco DOC (or DOCG) region. Other authorised grape varieties can actually be added to the mix, but only up to a maximum of 15%.
People often ask about the taste difference between Prosecco, Cava and Champagne. To put it in the simplest, most reductive, terms: Prosecco tends to be fruitier, lighter and sweeter, with bigger bubbles, whereas Cava and (to an even greater extent) Champagne are more dry and yeasty, with that distinctive biscuity taste you get from being aged “on the lees” (aka dead yeast cells).
At a spring barbecue over the weekend, I tried three Prosecco varieties (pictured top), made just north-east of Venice in the eco-friendly Bosco del Merlo estate winery — which also produces Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
The Rosé is dry, refreshing and summery, with subtle floral notes and a touch of strawberry. The Brut (dry) and the Extra Dry (my favourite), meanwhile, are both a pale, straw yellow in colour, with delicate aromas of pear and apple, plus a peachy stone fruit character. Their flavours are dominated by zingy citrus, with a crisp acidity, with the main difference between the two being (surprise surprise) that the Extra Dry is… extra dry.
All three went down well with my friends. But we didn’t just taste them straight. Oh no. Because Prosecco is also an extremely versatile cocktail ingredient.
Yep, we used some of the Bosco Del Merlo to knock up two of this century’s most crowd-pleasing cocktails: the Aperol Spritz and the Bellini, both of which get a one-star difficulty rating from me — which means that not even I can cock them up.
The unmistakably rusty orange Aperol Spritz is simply Aperol, Prosecco and soda over ice, with a slice of orange (just in case it wasn’t already orange enough). I’d recommend serving it in a red-wine glass.
And the Bellini is just peach pureé and Prosecco, served in a flute. If you can’t find peach pureé, just blend and strain some peaches (I shoved some ice in with them), adding a touch of sugar (or you could use lemon juice, I guess) to taste. Et voila. Easy, spritzy, light, crowd-pleasing cocktails for those social summer garden evenings.
For more info on Bosco Del Merlo visit www.boscodelmerlo.it
Bosco Del Merlo Prosecco will be available on UK high streets from next year, but in the meantime, visit www.ladeliziauk.com to buy.
The Brut and Extra Dry are £14.50 per bottle (six bottle case: £72.50), while the Rosé
is £15.50 per bottle (£77.50 for six).
Also, look out for them behind the bar at these venues: