The perception of lower-cost sparkling wine is that it is something dainty or frivolous. Not serious at all and not looking for depth—just something good enough to enjoy to pass the time. What, though, if you could have a sparkling wine that is affordable and also a seriously good time? While cheap Prosecco abounds, Prosecco that has achieved DOCG status (look for a piece of tape on the bottle neck that has “DOCG” printed on it), which typically sells in the $20–25 range, has not quite been able to ride the coattails of the explosion in sales of cheap Prosecco. What has yet to happen is for the demographic of consumers that is comfortable spending in the $20–25 range for a bottle of wine to awaken to the versatility of sparkling wine, especially when it comes to food pairings—what other wine pairs so magnificently with sushi, Indian or Thai food?—and to come to the realization that, in today’s world, it is perfectly acceptable to refuse to pay $40–65 for a basic bottle of Champagne when a DOCG Italian Prosecco offers similar, if not exactly equal, pleasures. That is Champagne’s problem, not yours.
The NINO FRANCO “Rustico” Prosecco Superiore DOCG Valdobbiadene has the benefit of both being one of the lower priced and relatively easier to locate DOCG Proseccos out there. It’s a winner. Poignant and crisp and bright, with vibrant notes of pear, sea salt and white peach, the minerality here is lively and upbeat while the bubbles on the palate are soft. What’s unexpected is the depth and feminine strength of the wine—robust in flavor coming from a powerful core. Far from dainty or frivolous, this is Prosecco that leaves a lasting impression. –J.M.