Production of northern Italy’s flagship white sparkling wine Prosecco from the newly designated
Denominazione di Origine Controllata region established eight years ago climbed 4 percent to a
record 3.55 million hectolitres in 2016, even as the recent pace of rapid growth slowed.
The increase compared with a 51 percent jump to 3.4 million hectolitres in 2015 from the 2.25
million produced in 2014, according to data from the Consorzio di Tutela della Denominazione di
Origine Controllata Prosecco, the region’s supervisory body. The figures exclude production from thesmaller DOCG premium quality areas of Conegliano Valdobbiadene and Asolo.
Exports continue to be the main driver of the expansion in output, with 75 percent of Prosecco sales last year being outside Italy, and with the U.K., U.S. and Germany between them accounting for 68 percent of all exports, according to the data. A total of 410.9 million bottles were produced from the DOC region in 2016 with an estimated retail value of 1.9 billion euros ($2.1 billion), and the UK., the biggest single market, consumed 112.7 million bottles last year.
Consorzio President Stefano Zanette, interviewed during the London Wine Fair in May, has described the trend as “very encouraging” as the Consorzio seeks to expand markets globally. It comes amid increasing competition for the sparkling wine market, traditionally dominated by Champagne, as not only Prosecco but Spanish Cava and other sparkling styles such as French Cremant wines and New World equivalents jostle for retail space.
The DOC designation in 2009 stipulates that at least 85 percent of the blend must come from Glera, a grape indigenous to northeast Italy, while the balance comes from any of Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Nero.
Annual production in the Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG area has reached about 90 million
bottles, which along with a small amount of output from Asolo has taken the total Prosecco DOC and DOCG production to just over 500 million bottles, according to Giulia Pussini of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene producers’ consortium. Conegliano Valdobbiadene sells 41 percent of its production abroad, or 32 million bottles, in about 100 countries, she said at an American Association of Wine Economists symposium in Padua June 29.
Luca Giavi, director of the Prosecco DOC consortium, pointed to the increasing international
character of the Prosecco market in his AAWE Padua presentation. ``There is a Prosecco school in China to increase Prosecco knowledge in Asian markets,’’ he said.
The establishment of protected DOC and DOCG areas for Prosecco in 2009 not only gave Italian
winemakers a degree of branding definition. It also pushed growers closer to home in the Veneto t omeet DOC regulations in producing and labelling their output, which in turn has had an effect on the output and export numbers. ``The operation was to clean the market,’’ Gabriele Castelli, of the wine sector unit of the Alleanza Cooperative Italiane, said at the the AAWE symposium in Padua.
Lodovico Giustiniani, a wine producer and representative of the Confagricoltura farm organization, said that in the Veneto region in general ``it’s very profitable growing grapes in this area,’’ and that ``Prosecco is giving a very good gross margin per hectare.’’ Edi Defrancesco of the University of Padua said that ``land values of the vineyard are very high and growing.’’