I have always had a troubled relationship with wine guides and wine competitions. Having followed previous competitions, more than one “win” has made me suspicious. And so I’ve never sent our wines to guides, except for the Slow Wine guide. Its editors visited the winery and then decided that the wines merited a review.
Last year, the Prosecco consortium asked me to send samples to all the guides possible. It would help to raise awareness of the appellation, they told me.
A few days ago, I found myself on the other side of the fence.
The Vini Buoni d’Italia guide calls me and asks me if I’d like to take part in a tasting devoted to the wines of the Prosecco DOCG.
We tasted roughly 50 wines blind and the experience was as enlightening as it was troubling.
Professional tasting can be truly challenging and unnerving.
This is what I learned:
1. Blind tasting is still the best way to be impartial and objective.
2. The tasters I met were serious and well prepared.
3. It’s extremely useful for tasters and enologists to trade notes and beneficial for both parties.
4. You need the highest quality grapes and growers who know how to manage them in order to make a great dry Prosecco. There is no truth to the notion that sugar helps. It’s simply very difficult to make a balanced and approachable dry Prosecco.
5. Prosecco continues to shift increasingly toward the brut style.
6. Even the biggest producers are capable of making top-of-the-line Prosecco.
7. The overwhelming majority of Cartizze bottlings are produced as dry Prosecco.
8. After tasting 50 wines, all you want to do is go lie down and sleep for two days.
9. You need to train to taste professionally.
10. When you taste 3 out of 5 wines that taste the same, you know that something isn’t right. At the same, if the wine were to taste radically different, you could also read that as a defect or a lack of authenticity.
grape grower and winemaker