The world of Prosecco is vast and inconsistent. If you want a memorable one, look for the Superiore DOC designation.

By Brian Freedman
October 05, 2020
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Prosecco’s popularity is unquestioned. Who doesn’t love an affordable, fruit-forward sparkling wine that makes bubbly a legitimate option on a Tuesday night? But the success of mass-produced Proseccos has unfortunately overshadowed the fact that there are many complex, occasionally age-worthy examples to be found.

“Unfortunately, the word ‘Prosecco’ is often used as a synonym for sparkling wine, but not necessarily a high-quality one,” said Gianluca Bisol, president of the Bisol winery and the 21st generation of his family. “Instead, Prosecco is a sparkling wine that has a well-defined story and origin, the northeast of Italy. In particular, Prosecco Superiore is the result of the steep vineyards between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano, recognized in July 2019 as [a] UNESCO World Heritage [site].”

This is an important distinction: Just as a bottle labeled simply as “Beaujolais” will taste very different from a wine that was grown in one of the famed crus of the region (Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, etc.), so too will a bottle of Prosecco be a completely different experience from one distinguished by a Prosecco Superiore DOC designation, or even further geographic specificity. Bisol added that, “In the high hills with the steepest slopes, 900 to 1,000 hours per hectare are required to work the vineyards, while in the plains, only 80 to 90 hours are required thanks to the flat land and mechanization. These are considerations that reflect greatly on the quality and end price.”

As for the question of cost, even the best Prosecco tends to represent remarkable value. Of the 15 recommended below (listed alphabetically), only four of them cross the $30 threshold. High-quality Prosecco is among the most affordable luxuries in the world of sparkling wine, as these standout bottles exemplify.

Credit: Courtesy of Adami

Adami Vigneto Giardino Prosecco Superiore Rive di Colbertaldo Asciutto 2018 ($22)

Bone dry mineral notes reminiscent of slate and granite are joined by Jordan almonds, hard pears, honey-almond pizzelles, a hint of hazelnuts, and caramel apples.

Andreola Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene Col del Forno - Rive di Refrontolo 2019 ($23)

Aromas of sweet oranges and stone fruit find balance in clam-shell minerality, teeing up a palate of serious savoriness, with saline spice to the Seckel pears, nectarines, and white cardamom.

Bianca Vigna Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene Brut Millesimato 2018 ($24)

So full of peaches and lemon blossoms on the nose, which are joined by yellow apples, lemongrass, and lime leaf. On the palate, this is dry and very mineral, practically vibrating with slate notes cutting a path through hard apples, apricots, apricot pits, and lemon pith.

Bisol Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Crede DOCG Brut 2018 ($23)

Floral, bright, and deliciously layered, with a lovely lime note that rings through the mineral mid-palate, all joined by more flowers through the finish—jasmine, hawthorne—as well as white grapefruit pith. There are hints of tropical fruit here as well, in addition to apricot pit and autumn orchard fruits.

Bortolin Angelo Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene 2018 Extra Dry ($20)

Slate-like aromas pave the way for a serious and spicy Prosecco with hard apples, honey tuilles, marzipan, apricots, and almond blossoms.

Bortolomiol Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene Ius Naturae Millesimato Organic Brut 2018 ($20)

Autumnal aromas sliced green and yellow apples join hard pears and a hint of oranges before a palate of white berries, grapefruit pith, tons of mineral and saline notes, and so much energy that it seems ready to burst from the glass.

Ca’ di Rajo Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene Cuvee del Fondatore Millesimato 2018 Brut ($18)

There is an almost Champagne-like character to this savory wine: It’s bracing and full of lemon pith, apricot stone, hard pears, and minerality running straight through the bracing, almost briny finish.

Val d’Oca Prosecco Superiore Rive di San Pietro di Barbozza 2018 ($33)

A beautiful nose is marked by almond blossoms, apricots, and Mandarin oranges, which turn to a palate elegant with fine-bead bubbles that carry mineral-zipped flavors of limes, lemon blossoms, and a hint of tarragon on the finish.

Casa Farive Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry ($12)

Excellent tension and acidity keep flavors of persimmons and ripe apricots harmonious and delicious.

La Marca Luminore Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene ($30)

Sweet yellow apples, pears, and white grapefruits are joined by exuberant lemon-lime flavors and a subtle floral lift on the dry yet honey-tinged and mineral finish.

Maschio del Cavalieri Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene Rive di Colbertaldo 2017 ($22)

Gobs of sweet yellow apples and ripe pears define the nose, with white blossomed flowers at the edges, all setting the stage for a palate of refreshing, slightly saline flavors flashed with lemon and honeydew pith, a touch of pineapple, hard pears, and spice.

Mionetto Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG Dry NV ($40)

Expressive white nectarine, pluot, and pear aromas follow through to flavors of sweet Fuji apples and d’Anjou pear fritters. This is sweetly and subtly spiced on the lemon-blossom-kissed finish.

Nino Franco Grave di Stecca Brut 2010 ($50)

Aromas of lemon blossoms, mashed almonds, and gently caramelized white peaches roll into a palate of beautiful vinosity, with tiny, leisurely bubbles carrying honeyed flavors of white cardamom, sesame-honey candies, lemon oil, fresh ginger, vanilla, and a savory finish verging on salinity.

Sommariva Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene Brut ($20)

Sweet autumn orchard fruit and a light suggestion of orange cotton candy, orange blossoms, sweet yet mild strawberries and white berries, find a more savory counterpoint on the palate, whose flavors of lemons and lemon pith, hard apples, and spring flowers linger through the finish.

Trevisiol Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene Rive di Collalto 2019 Extra Dry ($17)

Well-defined nectarines, white peaches, and pineapples rise from the glass before a lemon-acid-zipped palate vibrating with candied ginger, yellow apples, and lemon blossoms.