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Following the Prosecco Road - Your Guide to Australian Prosecco

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.

Prosecco Infographic of this sparkling wine variety


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.

Tasting Notes

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.

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5 of the Best King Valley Wineries and Cellar Doors
Words by Ben Hallinan on 5 Oct 2017
Discover the best King Valley wineries and cellar doors to taste and experience the region’s delights with our guide and interactive map. When Italian migrants arrived in the King Valley after World War II to work on the Snowy Hydro Scheme and to farm tobacco, they planted vines to help them feel at home. Today, the region is arguably the leader in alternative wines, especially Italian styles like Arneis , Barbera , Nebbiolo , Sangiovese and more recently, Prosecco . And the classic Italian trio of great wine, superb food and warm hospitality is on show every day in the region’s wineries and cellar doors. The best way to visit the region is to start at either Brown Brothers in Milawa or Chrismont in Cheshunt and then track along the Wangaratta-Whitfield Road, known affectionately as the Prosecco Road. The King Valley introduced Prosecco to the nation in the early 2000s and now the very mention of Australian Prosecco is synonymous with the region. You can find out more about  Prosecco and its difference to traditional Sparkling wine here . To help plan your trip, we’ve selected a collection of King Valley wineries we feel provide the best cellar door experience, plus we’ve included a handy interactive map down below . King Valley Cellar Doors List Brown Brothers
The perfect place to start or end your visit to the King Valley is in Milawa at the winery that started it all, Brown Brothers . There is little question that this family-owned operation has had a remarkable impact on the wine industry with a consistent focus on introducing new wine varieties and winemaking techniques to Australia.  In the friendly cellar door, there is a vast range of wines to taste from approachable everyday styles through to their flagship Patricia range. There is also a great selection of cellar door only wines made from the Kindergarten winery, where their winemakers experiment with and nurture a wide range of new wine styles and winemaking techniques. If you can, make sure you book ahead for a tasting tour of the winery and the Kindergarten to learn more about what tomorrow’s wines will be. 244 Milawa-Bobinawarrah Rd, Milawa – view on our map Open daily 9am–5pm Visit the Brown Brothers website Sam Miranda Wines
Once you turn onto Snow Road, it's hard to miss the Sam Miranda Wines cellar door with its striking 10-metre tower, which acts as a giant periscope, funnelling natural light down into the modern tasting room and underground wine cellar. The cellar door restaurant focuses on sourcing ingredients from within a 50km radius and serves up an authentic Italian menu that matches perfectly with their superb range of Mediterranean varieties available to taste, including Prosecco , Pinot Grigio , Sangiovese and Nebbiolo. And, if you’re touring the King Valley by bike, you’ll find a very warm welcome as Sam, a self-confessed cycling tragic, hosts a full calendar of cycling events and competitions each year.  1019 Snow Rd, Oxley – view on our map Open daily 10am–5pm Visit the Sam Miranda Wines website Pizzini Wines
This charming winery is a must visit for any trip to the King Valley. As a pioneering specialist in Italian varietals, there’s a great range of Pinot Grigio, Arneis, Verduzzo, Prosecco, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo available to sample. And, with a boutique guest house among the vines , regular events, winery tours and cooking classes at Katrina Pizzini’s A tavola! cooking school , this family-run operation has something for everyone. 175 King Valley Rd, Whitfield – view on our map Open daily 10am–5pm Visit the Pizzini Wines website Politini Wines
Like many in the King Valley, the Politini family started in tobacco farming in the 1950s before moving into wine in the 1980s. Today, they specialise in the varieties of Salvatore Politini’s Sicilian roots with Nero d’Avola, Grecanico, Vermentino, Sangiovese and more. The idyllic two-bedroom Casolare (Italian for ‘cottage’) accommodation on the property is the perfect base to explore the picturesque King Valley. Or, you can take your love of Italian food and wine to the next level as you learn how to prepare the perfect Sicilian dish to pair with your Politini wines in Nonna Josie’s Cooking Experience classes. 65 Upper King River Rd, Cheshunt – view on our map Open daily 10am–5pm Visit the Politini Wines website Chrismont
At the southern end of the Prosecco Road is the new Chrismont cellar door, restaurant and larder. With its sleek lines, sophisticated architecture and idyllic position among the vines, there is little wonder it took out the coveted National Building Design of the Year Award in 2016. Inside, you’ll find a great range of old world varieties to taste, such as their cool climate Rieslings and premium Sparkling through to the King Valley’s famed Mediterranean varieties in their fantastic La Zona range of Prosecco, Arneis, Sagrantino and more. The Chrismont restaurant focuses on the flavours of Italy's north and south, the perfect match for their wines.  And, with  their elegant boutique guest house overlooking the vines, it’s the perfect place to base your adventures in the region or as your final destination after a day trekking and tasting your way along the Prosecco Road. 251 Upper King River Rd, Cheshunt – view on our map Open daily 10am–5pm Visit the Chrismont website King Valley Winery Map Planning a trip to the King Valley? Download our interactive King Valley winery map. To save on your browser or device, click here For more information on visiting King Valley, be sure to visit the official King Valley website or stop by the visitor information centre on Murphy Street in Wangaratta. But, if you'd like to sample some of the wineries listed in this guide before you visit, explore our selection of King Valley wines and find out more about the wineries listed here in our Meet the Makers section . And, with the Wine Selectors Regional Release program, you'll experience a different wine region each Release with all wines expertly selected by our Tasting Panel, plus you’ll receive comprehensive tasting notes and fascinating insights into each region. Visit our wine plans section to find out more!
Rosé revealed – how is it made?
The time is ripe for Rosé – spring afternoons and evenings are perfect for relishing the refreshing, savoury characters of fabulous Australian drops. But, as you sit back and sip its deliciousness, do you ever wonder exactly how Rosé is made? Up until a few years ago, Australian winemakers made Rosé as an afterthought, says Tasting Panellist Adam Walls . “Whereas now, the wines are being made deliberately, with designated parcels of fruit that have been picked specifically to be turned into Rosé.”  As Hunter Valley winemaker Mike De Iuliis explains, “There are two distinct keys to making quality Rosé. First is the variety that is being used, and second is timing of harvest.” There are many different styles of wine and as Mike describes, “Rosé is quite a personalised wine and at De Iuliis, we are looking to produce a style that is bright, fresh and vibrant. We also try to produce a drier, more savoury style that is built around texture and acidity rather than sugar and fruit.”  So, how is Rosé made? The Maceration Method Just like red wine, Rosés pick up their colour from the skin of red wine grapes. The winemaker can determine the depth of colour in the wine by deciding how long to leave the juice in contact with the skins, typically anywhere from 2 to 24 hours – the shorter the time, the lighter the colour. The amount of time a winemaker leaves the juice in contact with the skins, Hunter Valley winemaker Mike De Iuliis explains: 

“It depends on the variety you're using. With our special release Rosé, which is made from Grenache, the fruit is harvested by machine and then transported to the Hunter Valley (from the Hilltops). This time on skin is about long enough (approx. 8-12 hours), to pick up the colour that we like and also the flavour profile that we are looking for.”

- Mike De Iuliis, De Iuliis Wines - Hunter Valley
There are different techniques used for this process, including the maceration method, which allows the crushed skins of the red wine grapes to ‘steep’, or macerate, in the juice for a short period of time, before the skins are removed and the entire tank is finished into a Rosé wine.  The Saignée Method Another method is called the Saignée (‘san-yay’), or the ‘bleed’ method. This involves ‘bleeding off’ a portion of the juice – while the remaining goes on to make red wine – into a separate vat to finish fermentation. This technique can result in some really lovely examples. Saignée expert Andrew Margan is a strong proponant of this style:

When making rose using this method we soak the unfermented grape juice on its skins for about 48 hours and allow the juice to soak some colour and flavour out of the skins before we run just 10 % of that juice off into another tank and add yeast to ferment it like a white wine. Cold fermentation ensures that the fruit flavours and aromas are conserved in the finished wine.The key is to make sure you drain off the juice at the right time. Because we have much softer tannins here in the Hunter and we obtain ripeness of flavour at lower alcohols we can make a saignee style rose that does not require any residual sugar and has enough richness of flavour without being too high in alcohol to make a dry rich Rosé

- Andrew Margan, Margan Wines
Blending: Another way to make Rosé is by mixing white and red wine together, although, this rather crude method is generally frowned upon and doesn’t usually make for a very nice tasting wine.  Colour and Characters: The colour of Rosé can range from the lightest shades of pale onion skin pink to salmon, coral, hot pink, and ruby red; generally speaking, the darker the colour, the more intense and sweeter the wine. Primary fragrances and flavours of Rosé depend on the type of grape, or grapes, used, but will typically sit along the spectrum of red fruits and florals, melons and zesty citrus. Sometimes, you’ll find pleasant green characters, like rhubarb or strawberries with their leafy green tops still on.  What varieties are used to make Rosé?
Rosé can be made from just about any red wine grape variety there is. In Australia, the more common varietals used to make Rosé include  Shiraz ,  Pinot Noir , and Grenache . But also,  Merlot  and  Cabernet Sauvignon . In Provence, the historical home of Rosé, winemakers will blend grape varieties, such as Cinsault, Mourvédre, Syrah (Shiraz), and Carignan, to create gorgeous examples of this pale pink wine. Now you know how it’s made, it’s time to drink to Rosé’s pink perfection and fill your spring with some delicious drops.  
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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