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Prosecco: affordable Italian bubbly

"We leave the competition to the vineyards. She has hers. I have mine," said Umberto Cosmo, owner of the Bellenda vineyards in Vittorio Veneto, part of the region that produces Prosecco wines.

by: Leslie Gevirtz | 13 Jul 2007

His wife, Cinzia Canzian, owns the neighbouring Le Vigne di Alice winery.

They made wines together for several years, but then "I wanted to do something different, something womanly and feminine," Canzian said. Indeed, her Alice Prosecco Extra Dry reflects the character, determination and passion of its maker.

That is not to slight Bellenda, despite Cosmo's contention that he basically makes a product that is "Inutile, useless. You don't need wine. You can live without it. Wine just gives you pleasure."

And he has provided pleasure with his clean, elegant Prosecco DOC di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Spumante Brut San Fermo.

Prosecco is actually the name of the grape that makes the wine. In the region just north of Venice that extends from Valdobbiadene in the east to Conegliano in the west, it is transformed into still, frizzante (lightly sparkling) and spumante (vigorously bubbly) wines that range from bland to bursting with loads of fruit and charm.

"To the uninitiated, Prosecco is just an Italian version of Champagne. But it's not. This is a wine that you should take on its own terms," according to Michael Franz, editor of, and the former Washington Post wine critic. It does come in different styles: the brut is very dry; the extra dry less so and then comes cartizze.

"Freshness is more important for Prosecco (than Champagne). When you buy it, drink it within a year," he advised at the Vino in Villa tasting held in New York by the region's trade group, Consorzio Tutela Prosecco Doc di Conelgiano Valdobbiadene.

Prosecco differs from Champagne, not only because of the soil where it is grown and the grape that is used, but also because of the method that produces it.

The choice is not which is better, Champagne or Prosecco, but which is more appropriate for the occasion and the budget.

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