We recently got in a few cases of Santa Marina Italian wines which included a varietal Pinot Grigio and a couple different Proseccos. Two things caught our attention immediately. The bargain-priced Pinot Grigio turned out to be really quite good and secondly, one of the Proseccos turned out to be a rose. Why is that significant? Because to the best of our knowledge, there could be no such thing as Rose Prosecco.
It's been quite a while since we've written about Prosecco, but as I recall the 1990's were a pivotal time in its modern history. That's when the Italian wine industry with a little help from the government started promoting it as a cheaper alternative to Champagne. Prior to that Prosecco was either a low-rent Asti Spumante or a wine geek's prototypical example of bad sparkling wine. But their fortunes changed as money was put behind the product upgrading the vineyards and winemaking facilities and governmentally re-defining what it is they were actually doing there. Ten years later the EU stepped in to further advance the cause of Prosecco.
Prosecco had a two hundred year history up to that point; that is, two hundred years of making ordinary wine. Now it was to be codified as a DOC (denominazione di origine) with the intent of eating into the Champagne business. Glera was always the historic Prosecco grape. Now the new and improved Glera was mandated to be eighty-five percent of any Prosecco blend with the remainder being any of three pinot grapes and/or any of three local varieties. That was the mandate of the new Italian wine law.
At the same time Congeliano Valdobbiadene and Asolo, the two best districts in the Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giuli Prosecco appellation, were elevated to DOCG status by the EU.
So what about Prosecco Rose? First of all, let's just say, there has always been Rose Prosecco. (Insert wink and a nod.) The industry has sold it to retailers and restaurateurs forever...if you promise not to look too closely at the label. Moreover, if the truth be known, the Italian government has been known to let legal technicalities in its wine industry go unnoticed. So, there it is.
Now however, we have learned, as of last year (2020), roses are a legal production in the Prosecco arena. By the new law they must be 85% Glera and 15% Pinot Nero (Noir). We must have missed the memo.