All you need to know about Prosecco
What is Prosecco?
Prosecco is a style of sparkling white wine made from the Prosecco grape variety. Prosecco wine is named after the Prosecco grape and the village of Prosecco in Northeast Italy. The first record of Prosecco dates back to the late sixteenth century.
Italians want to protect the name and provenance of Prosecco wines, like the French have done for Champagne. To try and prevent other regions and countries from using the term Prosecco, the Prosecco grape was renamed ‘Glera’ in the European Union in 2009.
The Prosecco Debate
There has been much debate around the use of the word ‘Prosecco’ and how it can be used on a label. Wine Australia has led the charge in helping to protect our growing Prosecco exports, which according to The Drinks Business are now worth over $60 million annually and expected to grow to $500 million over the next decade.
The European Council have tried to register Prosecco in Australia, though it was successfully opposed by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) on the grounds that it is a grape variety. The Italian Consorzio Di Tutela Della Denominazione Di Origine Controllata Prosecco (the Consortium) have also ramped up attempts over last few years to register the geographic indication of Prosecco in import markets to exclude of the use of the term as a grape variety. The debate continues!
Where do we make Prosecco in Australia?
Victoria’s King Valley has long been regarded for driving the growth of Prosecco in Australia. Our friends at Dal Zotto have been pioneering Prosecco since 1999, with yields from the first grapes in 2004. The rising popularity of the style has seen plantings throughout the region grow substantially, giving winemakers in the region access to exceptional parcels of fruit.
Prosecco is also grown here in the Alpine Valleys, and like our neighbours over in the King Valley, we’re seeing exceptional quality emerge. You can also find Prosecco in Victoria’s Murray Darling – Swan Hill region, and Wrattonbully in South Australia.
What’s the difference between Champagne and Prosecco?
Although they look similar in the glass, there are many differences between Champagne and Prosecco. Most importantly, they are made from different grape varieties and undergo different methods of fermentation. This results in differences in taste and retail pricing, depending on how the wine is produced.
Almost all Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Prosecco is only made from the Prosecco (or ‘Glera’) grape variety.
Champagne is made using the traditional method. In the traditional method, secondary fermentation (the process by which still wine is turned into sparkling wine) occurs inside each individual bottle.
The most common way of producing Prosecco is called the Charmat method. For this method, secondary fermentation takes place in large stainless-steel tanks, rather than in each bottle. These tanks are sealed so that all the carbon dioxide produced by the fermentation is trapped in the tank. The wine is then filtered and bottled under pressure. The Charmat method is faster and less expensive than the traditional method.
We don’t use the Charmat method for our Billy Button Proseccos as it requires specialist equipment. However, as you’ll discover further on, this does not mean we can’t get creative in the unique styles we’re producing.
Why is Prosecco so popular?
Prosecco is a popular sparkling wine due to its approachable flavour and relatively low cost. It’s also a great match with many dishes, like seafood, cured meats, cheese and crudites. It is fantastic as an aperitif but is equally enjoyable with a meal or dessert.
How does Prosecco taste?
Prosecco is renowned for being an aromatic, floral and fruit driven sparkling wine. Prosecco wines can have flavours like apple, honeysuckle, melon, pear, and citrus fruit.
Is Prosecco sweet?
Most Proseccos are made in the brut (dry) style, but due to the lower acidity and dominance of the fruit flavours, even Prosecco made in the brut style may appear sweeter than it actually is. The labelling for Prosecco can be confusing, but these are the three ‘types’ of Prosecco:
Brut is the driest style of Prosecco, with up to 12 grams of residual sugar per litre (up to half a gram of sugar per glass). This is the most common style of Prosecco produced.
- Extra Dry
Extra Dry Prosecco has between 12 to 17 grams of residual sugar per litre. This style is perhaps the best representation of Prosecco.
Dry Prosecco actually happens to be the sweetest style, having between 17 to 32 grams of residual sugar per litre!
The Proseccos made here at Billy Button are all less than 10 grams of residual sugar per litre.
Discover Billy Button Prosecco
It’s no secret that we love making Prosecco here at Billy Button. In fact, many would call us crazy for experimenting with so many styles. But making sparkling wine has long been part of Jo’s craft, from her extensive experience making sparkling wine at Seppelt.
Here at Billy Button, we make Prosecco using five different techniques. The only comparable winery making Prosecco like this is Dal Zotto. Discover the range of different Prosecco we have on offer:
Our NV Billy Button Wildflower Prosecco is designed to be bright, crisp and fruity. To do this, we use the carbonation method to create the bubbles of CO2. By using this method, there are no yeast flavours to detract from the fruit characters. It is also easier and less expensive than the traditional method. Many Australian Prosecco are made this way.
We also make another four styles of Prosecco based around bottle fermentation.
Our Billy Button ‘The Socialite’ Prosecco is made using the traditional method. This is the same method used to make Champagne. Because Prosecco is a more fruit driven style, we don’t want too much of the savoury yeast character, so we usually mature our Socialite for 9-12 months.
Making Prosecco in the traditional method is a very labour-intensive process, particularly for a small winery. Not many people make Prosecco using this method.
Our Billy Button ‘Zero Dosage’ Prosecco undergoes the same process as our Socialite Prosecco. However, we don’t add any sugar to the liqueur for the Zero Dosage, therefore, it is completely dry.
Our Billy Button ‘Col Fondo’ Prosecco is a cloudy style of Prosecco. The Col Fondo is bottle fermented like the Socialite and Zero Dosage. However, we add less sugar to the Col Fondo during fermentation. This is so that we have a little less pressure in the bottle after the fermentation process has concluded.
After fermentation we mature the wine in the bottle and release it without removing the yeast. Because we don’t remove the yeast, this style of wine can foam up quite a bit when it’s opened. Therefore, we usually let this wine mature for longer before we release it so there’s less chance of it foaming over when opened.
Our Billy Button ‘Ancestrale’ Prosecco is made using the original method used in sparkling wine production. This method is also referred to as Pétillant Naturel (meaning naturally sparkling), or ‘Pét-Nat’ for short.
This technique would fit under the banner of ‘natural wine’. No additions are made to the juice at any stage. The wine is fermented with wild yeast and bottled at the end of the primary fermentation. This is so it can finish the last little bit of fermentation in the bottle, which creates the pressure and bubbles.
The Ancestrale is cloudy because it has not been fined or filtered at any stage. The cloudiness is simply grape solids and dead yeast. These form a sediment which is a combination of dead yeast and tartrate crystals. These are harmless. The Ancestrale style is quite unique in terms of winemaking and makes a very different style of sparkling wine.
For the cloudy styles of Prosecco, we recommend standing upright in the fridge for a couple of days before opening. This is to reduce the chance of foaming over. Pour the wine very carefully, so that it does not disturb the solids that have settled at the bottom of the bottle.
Experience the five different styles of Billy Button Prosecco for yourself with our special release Prosecco Discovery Pack. Be sure to get in quick – we only a limited amount available!
- 2 x NV Wildflower Prosecco
- 1 x 2018 Billy Button ‘Col Fondo’ Prosecco
- 1 x 2021 Billy Button ‘Ancestrale’ Prosecco
- 1 x 2021 Billy Button ‘Zero Dosage’ Prosecco
- 1 x 2021 Billy Button ‘The Socialite’ Prosecco
$170 (free shipping)