Why Would Anyone Drink Old Prosecco?

Primo Franco © Terlato Wines
By Ray Isle Posted January 20, 2015

I was surprised—kind of blown away, in fact—the other day when I went to a vertical tasting of vintage-dated, higher-end Proseccos from Nino Franco, one of the top Prosecco producers.

Of all the wines in the world, the last one that most people would think might be improved by aging over time in a cellar is probably Prosecco (well, actually, Myx Fusions Moscato—the fruit-infused fizz that Nicki Minaj promotes—probably beats it out, but whatever).
 
But I was surprised—kind of blown away, in fact—the other day when I went to a vertical tasting of vintage-dated, higher-end Proseccos from Nino Franco, one of the top Prosecco producers.
 
Few Prosecco producers even keep a library of older vintages. Primo Franco, the owner of Nino Franco, does, though; he started to in 1983 after coming across a bottle forgotten atop a refrigerator in the winery’s cellar. It had been made in 1956 by his grandfather, and when he opened it 27 years later, it was still drinking gorgeously.
 
The recent tasting featured seven vintages of the winery’s high-end "Primo Franco" bottling, vintages ranging from 2013 back to 1989. The idea was to show, Franco said, “that I’m not crazy to talk about tasting Prosecco that’s 10, 20 or 30 years old.”
 
The result? The man’s not crazy. The 2003 Primo Franco, pale gold in hue, had a scent of spiced oranges with rich peach-apple flavors; it came off creamier and sweeter (though it wasn’t, technically) than the current vintage 2013 Primo Franco ($28), but it wasn't tired in the slightest. The 2000 Primo Franco—“a perfect vintage,” in Primo’s words—had picked up some aromas of mushrooms and earth, with dark, juicy nectarine fruit and still a respectable amount of effervescence. I thought it was fantastic; there aren’t many under-$30 wines that can age 14 years so effortlessly. If the 1997 Primo Franco was a little weary, the 1995 Primo Franco made up for it. A beautiful bronze-gold color and almost without any bubbles, it was elegant and expressive, with spiced apple notes and a long finish. Even the 1992 was impressive.
 
So am I immediately going to stuff all my bottles of Prosecco into cold storage and start whiling away the years till they’re ready? No. Prosecco is always going to be a wine whose main strength is lively, of-the-moment delight (and it’s great in an Aperol Spritz, too). But a few of them—the best of them—now there’s something to think about.

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