Following the Australian Prosecco Road
Australian Prosecco is a vibrant sparkling wine style taking over Australia from the Prosecco Road in Victoria’s King Valley to the Adelaide Hills. Internationally, it is now the world's most popular Sparkling wine, overtaking Champagne in sales. Learn more about its long history, how it’s made and where to find the best Australian Prosecco with this helpful guide and infographic.
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Firstly, what is Prosecco?
Prosecco is a style of Sparkling wine made from the Glera grape variety. This historic variety is believed to hail from the ancient Slovenian village of Prosek, now part of Italy. There are records of Julia Augusta drinking wine from the Prosek region as early as 79 AD. But, what we now know as Prosecco hails from the North-east Italian province of Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia near Treviso enshrined in the Prosecco DOC, or the designated production zone.
The characteristic ‘fizz’ of Prosecco is classed as either Spumante, the most exuberant, as a more moderate Frizzante or with no fizz at all as a Tranquillo.
Prosecco is a late-ripening variety and is harvested once the varietal flavours of white peach, white pear and lemon peak and the acidity has softened. Cool climate and high altitude regions like King Valley or the Adelaide Hills are well suited to this variety.
Prosecco vs Champagne and Sparkling Wines
Apart from featuring different grapes, it’s the way Prosecco is made that plays a large role in the difference between Prosecco, Champagne and Sparkling Wines. Whereas Champagne is fermented in its bottle using Methode Champenoise, Prosecco is fermented pressurised steel tanks in a process known by much of the world as the “Charmat” method. However, mention the word Charmat to an Italian winemaker and there might be trouble. In Italy, it’s known as the “Martinotti Method”, invented and patented in 1885 by Fedricco Martinotti, seven years before the French winemaker Eugène Charmat filed for his take on the method.
The Martinotti method involves conducting the second fermentation in large autoclave steel tanks before clarification and cooling. This forgoes the need for fermentation, riddling and disgorgement inside individual bottles required in the Champagne method.
This method is a very efficient process lowering the resources required by the winemaker. However, it shouldn’t be viewed as an inferior process, as it allows for increased control, scale, filtration and the ability to lower the required yeast lees contact during the winemaking process. This is the key difference. Methode Champenoise wines have complex and rich autolytic textures from this process with restrained fruits. Martinotti method Prosecco wines are all about lightness, freshness and fruit, designed to be enjoyed at any occasion. Joy in a bottle.
A further, often neglected fact is that we owe the Bellini cocktail to Prosecco, invented by Giuseppe Cipriani when he combined white peach puree with Prosecco in Harry’s Bar Venice close to the Prosecco DOC, or designated production zone.
Dal Zotto brings Prosecco to Australia
Victoria’s King Valley can lay claim to planting the first Glera vines in Australia. The wine history of the King Valley starts in the 1880s in the regions’ tobacco plantations, established by Chinese settlers seeking new opportunities as the Victorian gold rush stagnated. By the 1940s Italian migrants had arrived to the region working on the tobacco farms. Yet, in the 1960s, the local tobacco industry was starting to decline.
Otto Dal Zotto, born in the Prosecco di Valdobbiadene DOCG region, where Prosecco vines carpet the hillsides, came to Australia in the late 1960s. Like many Italian migrants before him, Otto was drawn to the region to work in the tobacco fields. But, as the work dried up he moved into the region's emerging wine industry planting Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Gradually, the region began to plant classic Italian varieties, expressing the passion of the winemaker’s collective Italian heritage. Then, in 2000 Otto planted the first Glera grapes and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Rise of King Valley and the Prosecco Road
The road that traverses the valley from Milawa’s Brown Brothers to Chrismont in Cheshunt is known as the Prosecco Road. Along the way, visitors pass Dal Zotto Wines , Pizzini Wines and Sam Miranda Wines. These five wineries are among the best wineries in the region, all famous for this variety. As a result, the King Valley, long known for Italian and other alternative varieties such as Arneis, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera, is now most famous as the home of Australian Prosecco. We recently caught up with Ross Brown from Brown Brothers to talk Prosecco and Christmas in this recent article.
Sam Miranda is the third generation of a prominent winemaking family who moved from Italy to Australia in the 1930s. Since making the King Valley home in 1996, and drawing on a proud Italian heritage and a love for innovative winemaking, Sam Miranda Wines have been instrumental in the rise and collective promotion of King Valley Prosecco into the legend it is today.
The Adelaide Hills and other Prosecco Regions
Glera vines are starting to gain momentum in other cool climate regions such as the Adelaide Hills and Yarra Valley. With wineries including Innocent Bystander, Tempus Two and Coriole Vineyards leading the charge. As consumer demand continues to increase for Australian Prosecco this will only continue.
Prosecco is a light, fresh, creamy and fruit focused Sparkling wine. Tasting Panellist Adam Walls notes that Prossecco generally presents with a “pale lemon colour and a fine bead collar. Abundant in pear, apple and citrus fruits with creamy soft texture, it’s little wonder that Prosecco is proving to be a favourite with drinkers across the country”.
Prosecco Food Pairings
Prosecco is a style that’s wonderful to enjoy on its own as the party’s getting started or with appetisers such as savoury canapes of cured meats or fresh fruit such as Lyndey Milan’s stuffed figs wrapped in bastourmar. This Italian-style Sparkling is also the perfect match for light seafood or Mediterranean dishes. As the temperature rises it’s ideal with fresh, zesty Asian inspired salads like this Vietnamese summer salad recipe.
Explore more of our recipe ideas now.
Try Prosecco Today
At its heart, Prosecco is designed to be enjoyed with friends. This light refreshing style has no pretence, and is made to be served immediately and not saved for a special occasion like Champagne. Instead, all moments are celebrations. With this ethos, it’s little wonder that it’s taking over the world.