Jonathan Pedley MW, Prosecco Masters judging panel chair, writes:
- Faults. I am afraid that cork taint reared its ugly head (three confirmed cases and one suspected). We had a bit of a natter about the problem. Does enough care go into ensuring taint free corks in the sparkling wine sector? Who knows. However, there is no getting round the fact that delicately aromatic sparkling wines, such as Prosecco, will be ruined by cork taint at lower levels of TCA than say a heavy oaky red.
- Tired/soggy/vegetative wines. Although perhaps less of a problem than in the past, a worrying number of wines still showed signs of a lack of freshness. Of all the wine styles we review in the Masters Series, Prosecco is the one where the samples (and more importantly the stock out in the market) needs to be as fresh as possible. Doubtless some anorak will claim that top Prosecco can age but in my experience nearly all Prosecco deteriorates the longer it stays in bottle. A rapid turnover of stock is crucial if consumers are to see these wines at their best.
- Faulted and tired wines aside, I tend to classify Prosecco as follows:
- Hollow, dilute, coarse, dull, phenolic or imbalanced (usually not enough acidity to balance the residual sugar) wines were ejected
- Correct wines, with freshness and pleasant estery aromas, generally picked up Bronzes.
- The more complex wines, which showed floral, and/or stone fruit, and/or creamy aromas, with everything else in balance, were the ones that achieved Silver, Gold or Master status.
- Price Brackets. In both the DOC and the DOCG flights under £10 there were inevitably some very ordinary wines. However, we were delighted that one of our sub £10 DOCG wines (number 133*) picked up a Gold. Well done! That said, if anything the cheap DOC wines did better overall than the cheap DOCG wines. We discussed this finding and two possible explanations came to the fore:
• The DOC wines shift through the market quickly so the liquids are usually going to be fresher than the equivalent DOCG wines.
• The DOCs may well already be using 2018 base wines, whereas some of the DOCGs may still be based on 2017 raw material.
- As we worked our way up the price scale the DOC wines kept pace with their DOCG “big brothers”. For instance, we awarded Golds to a £10-15 DOC wine (number 118**) and a £15-20 DOCG wine (number 147***). It was only when we ventured above £20 that the DOCG wines really starred (by which stage the DOC competition had pretty much disappeared): wines 153**** and 154***** got Golds and wine 156****** got our sole Master.
* Cuvée Solicum, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut, 2018, from Cantina Colli del Soligo
** Dalla Balla Nob Giuseppina, Prosecco DOC Treviso, Extra Dry, 2018, from Antonio Facchin e Figli
*** Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Millesimato Extra Dry, 2018 from Montelliana
**** 26° Primo, Rive di Col San Martino, Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut, 2018, from Andreola
***** Guia Millesimato Brut, 2017, from Foss Marai
****** Dirupo Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG, Brut, 2018, from Andreola