|Sergio Mionetto on top of Cartizze|
I don’t have a bone to pick with Prosecco. They are riding high. Price increases are forthcoming, by the way, so the Ferris wheel, she goes up, the Ferris wheel, she also goes down. Rarely does the Ferris wheel stop for one at the top. So there will be challenges in 2012, with an election year in the USA, to move the category forward in double digit growth territory.
Champagne, what do they care? They sell everything they make. Veuve-Clicquot (I was told by a highly placed person in the company) has been in “allocation” mode this year. Regardless of how you fell about any brand of Champagne, one can rest easily knowing the plans the Champenoise have for their brand can take you or leave you. Not so with Prosecco.
|Sergio (R) and longtime grower and friend Giuseppe (L) in Valdobbiadene|
If there is a dog in the fight against Prosecco, look to Cava. Their export business has been steadily growing in the last 30 years. From 10 million bottles in 1980 to 149 million in 2010 sent abroad. According to Alberto Mattioli (of LA STAMPA/Worldcrunch) "Coldiretti, Italy's largest farming group. Coldiretti reported that in the first nine months of 2011, 200 million of bottles of Prosecco were exported, versus 'only' 192 million of bottles of Champagne." With the O-N-D season unreported and with that time period showing the highest volume of sales, traditionally, those numbers will jump.
|Renzo Montesel, trained as an agronomist in the Coneglioano-Valdobbiadene zone, now makes and excellent Prosecco DOCG from his Vigna Paradiso vineyard|
Meanwhile, Champagne doles out their cases to the countries who still seek status. But the dry factor is still high up on the list of desirable qualities Champagne possesses. And Cava is no slouch in that department. Add to that the method of production is similar.
Now Cava might not be your cup of Macabeo, for folks who prefer their sparkling wines made of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but I would train my eye to stay on the rise of Cava. Not as a substitute for Champagne, but as a good honest product (in most cases) that screams value.
It seems the Italians are in the process of shooting themselves in the foot on that one. Not that such a factor will matter much in the trendy bars of Santa Monica or Manhattan’s meat packing district. But for the tea rooms in Omaha and Birmingham, price might be more of a consideration than style. And as anyone who has crawled around the coasts in the trendy areas, style in those circles is a moving target.
Final conclusions for now. Champagne has nothing to worry about. Cava is a good bet for continued, steady growth in the sparkling value market. And Prosecco? Where is it going in the second decade of the 21st century? Hop on the Ferris wheel and take a ride with the rest of us. I am sure of one thing; the Italian penchant for tinkering with success will provide all of us in the trade with creative challenges in the coming months and years.