Prosecco and Cava: A glass half full?

On the prosecco harvest front, it’s not all as gloomy as it might first appear. Yields, for some, might be down but producers say the quality is still there. 

Giovanni Savio, press office manager for Distilleria Bottega says the prosecco harvest in 2012 was down on average by 8%, but added: “The quality is expected to be very high.”

At Zonin, emergency irrigation played a part for some of its wines. Massimo Tuzzi, Zonin’s chief international officer, says that in general, Italy lost more than 20% of its production, pushing up the price of grapes.

“Regarding harvest at Casa Vinicola Zonin Estates, a few scattered rain showers in July in the north Adriatic from Friuli to Puglia and Sicily allowed the plants to work well during the hottest weeks of summer. 

“In Tuscany, the drought has been particularly felt, but in our estates in Chianti and Maremma there were no particular problems – thanks to very suitable soils and the opportunity to practice emergency irrigation (drip), if necessary. The overall quality of our grapes, therefore, is good. Same thing goes for the amount. Oenologically 2012 is a year with good expectations: the evolution of phenolic ripeness of the grapes presages correct ripeness in general, and we look forward to seeing balanced musts. Talking about prosecco, 2012 is an important harvest, because a lot of new vines were planted.”


In the cava camp, news seems to be mixed. The harvest was down according to official data. The 2012 harvest saw 260 million kilograms of grapes gathered – down 17% on the previous year, according to the Regulatory Board. 

Some producers have also begun to lose confidence in the cava appellation. Josep Maria Albet i Noya, current president of the Regulatory Council of Penedès, told DI he does not feel there is a crisis but a lot of producers “are not comfortable with the mass-production of cava” because it dilutes the quality message.

“I don’t think it’s possible to sell wine at very low prices and at very high prices under the same brand,” he says.

Reports suggest producers are quitting the appellation. Albet i Noya adds: “I don’t know how many cellars are planning to leave the cava appellation, but we are receiving a lot of calls looking for information about the new rules for Penedès sparkling.”

The new rules aim to reflect the six sub-zones of Penedés and will come into play in 2013. He says this may be the “quality revolution” cava needs to restore confidence in the region.

One producer quitting the appellation is Raventós i Blanc. In a letter addressed “Dear Friend” that accompanied the press statement, manager Pepe Raventós writes: “As some of you might already know or have heard, Raventós i Blanc will be notifying the Cava Regulatory Board on the 7th of this month [November] that it is leaving the DO. Many of you will be asking yourselves why, and might even be having doubts about this new era we are embarking on. Me too...”

Raventós goes on to describe how he wishes to “recover the long-lost characteristics of that life based around the traditional masia farmhouse of the Penedès region; that local vine-growing culture in which the land, the vines, the animals and man all worked together in harmony as an agricultural whole”.