Mionetto IL Prosecco NV, Italy
Mionetto Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG NV, Italy
Cost: $11-13, 18-20
What: With the hot weather settling in, many people think it’s time to put down the corkscrew and turn to beer or gin and tonic. I love both of those, but summer is still a great time to find a good wine to drink.
You usually don’t want to go with a heavy Cab or Shiraz, but there are many lighter options that are a refreshing way to beat the heat.
One of my favorite summer sips is Prosecco. It’s light, fresh, bubbly and low-alcohol. It’s the kind of wine you can drink any time with just about any kind of food.
I enlisted friends to taste these two wines side-by-side to see if there was a noticeable difference in quality. We all enjoyed the less-expensive IL, but when we opened the Valdobbiadene, we could tell the difference.
Both were refreshing and lightly sparkling, but the more expensive wine had more body and livelier bubbles. While unmistakably a Prosecoo, it had some of the taste characteristics of a fine Champagne. I think it is better suited to a fine meal while the IL is perfect as an aperitif.
Prosecco is known throughout Italy as “The Welcome Wine” because it is served so often at the beginning of a meal or a special occasion. It is lightly effervescent and has low alcohol. IL, for instance is 10.5 percent alcohol, while the Valdobbiadene is 12 percent.
The wine usually features lightly fruity or floral flavors compared to the yeasty flavors in many Champagnes. Prosecco generally is made by the Charmat method, during which the secondary fermentation occurs in pressurized stainless steel vats. With Champagne the secondary fermentation occurs in the bottle.
Prosecco originally was made that way, but it turns out the Glera grape used for Prosecco did not improve with bottle aging, but lost quality quickly. The Charmat method helps keep the wine tasting young and fresh.
Because the Charmat method uses less than half the atmospheric pressure of Champagne, the wines tend to taste soft and silky on the palate.
Prosecco is made only in the region of Veneto, north of Venice, in the northeast part of Italy. If the wine is made in another region, it is called sparkling Glera.
The IL has some pear aromas, with flavors of apple and citrus to go with a slight sweetness. The bottle is closed with a crown cap, such as those on beer bottles. That makes it even more fun when you open it in front of wine snobs, who think cork is the only proper closure.
Valdobbiadene is one of two villages in the heart of Prosecco production. Its vineyards are situated at just the right location in the surrounding hills to produce high-quality wine. The wines tend to be light and more complex. This bottle had some creamy texture with scents and flavors of peaches, pears and apricots.
Prosecco is a wine to drink as soon as you buy it. Serve it well chilled.
Winery: One of the oldest producers in the northeast Italy region of Prosecco, Mionetto dates back to 1887 when it was founded by Francesco Mionetto in the small village of Valdobbiadene, located just north of Venice.
At first the wine was only sold locally, usually in small casks carried by horse and buggy. Later Francesco’s two brothers joined him, and the business began to flourish. But when all three fought in WWI, the winery sustained heavy damage and wasn’t used much until after WWII.
Francesco’s grandsons, Giovanni and Sergio Mionetto, started running the winery in 1961 and began rebuilding. Sergio was the first to introduce the Charmat method to the region.
In Prosecco, wineries traditionally do not own their own vineyards and must rely on relationships with vineyard owners for a supply of quality grapes. Many of the farmers working with Mionetto have been working with the company for 40 years, and some go back generations.
The Mionetto winemaking tradition continues today under master vintner Alessio del Savio, who studied as Sergio Mionetto’s protégé for 10 years.
IL was first exported to the United States in 2002 and became an instant hit. Il means “the” in Italian, and it did become The Prosecco.
Mionetto produces five Proseccos, a Lambrusco, a Moscato and a bottled cocktail called IL Ugo. The top end wine is a single-vineyard Prosecco Valdobbiadene di Cartizze DOCG that sells for about $35.
Goes with: I brought these wines to a gathering of friends who share my love of wine. We each brought something to cook on the grill. One couple made a salad, one made dessert and another made an appetizer. We had a feast.
I didn’t know where we would squeeze these wines in, but I also knew they would fit wherever we decided to put them. Tim and Kathie already had pre-dinner wine opened when we arrived at their house, so we drank them.
Then we all had beef dishes and drank red wine with dinner, a rhone blend from Paso Robles and a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon.
I thought Prosecco would taste fine with the chocolate pie we had for dessert, but Tim wanted to wait, so we had both Proseccos as after-dinner drinks.
They made perfect palate cleansers, leaving our mouths fresh and tingling after a full meal. We all like the IL, and we especially liked the price. But the clear favorite was the Valdobbiadene.
It was a little richer and fuller than the IL, and had more long-lasting bubbles.
“It just explodes out of the glass,” said Steve. “The bubbles just keep coming.” His wife Sandy nodded her approval.
Both wines will go with a wide range of foods, from light cheese to seafood to chicken to dessert. Prosecco is especially good as an aperitif, or simply sitting on the porch celebrating summer.
Mionetto IL Prosecco NV, Italy