The Veneto region of Northern Italy, much like British Columbia, is an intersection of countries, communities and cultures. It is also one of the world’s most dynamic and history-rich wine centres. For the past few years, the complimentary Veneto wine regions of Valpolicella DOC and DOCG wines and Prosecco Superiore DOCG have joined forces to invest resources in trade and media events in Western Canada. Now consumers across BC are taking notice.
Recent sales statistics at BC Liquor Stores confirm growth in consumer demand for wines from both regions. Consistent with global trends
that confirm sparkling wine is the hottest growth category, sales of Prosecco sparkling wines have risen 15% since April alone, and an impressive 22% from May 2015 to April 2016. A recent article from Business In Vancouver
noted that sales of Italian sparkling wine in BC have increased 132.5% between 2011 and 2015, while the Prosecco category specifically has risen by 143% in that same period.
The Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore represents the 20% of the Prosecco's world and is produced in the historical area of prosecco production where you get the best expression. In 2015, the sales in Canada of Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG recorded +7.4% compared to 2014.
By contrast, sales of Valpolicella wines are on a more gradual curve, rising 3% from May 2015 to April 2016 at BC Liquor Stores, yet in recent months have increased by a dramatic 16%, on the heels of Italy as the featured country at the 2016 Vancouver International Wine Festival in February.
The 2016 Vancouver International Wine Festival featured Italy as the theme country. Last year, Italy surpassed France to become the world’s largest wine producer, according to the European Union. As of March 2015, Italian wine is second only to the USA in the value of imported wines to British Columbia, based on figures from the BCLDB.
BC wine lovers are purchasing these wines because they offer unbeatable value for money, with diverse flavour profiles that make them versatile with West Coast food pairings. Also, the two Veneto regions are embracing environmentally-sustainable winegrowing methods, which resonates strongly with British Columbians. These two regions are the ones to watch, becoming darlings on local wine lists as well.
In Valpolicella DOC and DOCG and Prosecco Superiore DOCG, life revolves around the grape. Together, the two areas showcase a balanced representation of the best of Northern Italian wines. Each region offers what the other does not, making them the perfect pairing.
Value and Quality
The wines of Valpolicella are known for their freshness balanced by natural acidity, moderate alcohol, elegant texture, versatility, and for their authentic expression of terroir. Within Valpolicella, there are five main styles ranging from fresh, fruity and affordable Valpolicella Classico, to complex and full-bodied Amarone della Valpolicella, which are generally more expensive, and able to age gracefully in bottle. In between are Valpolicella Ripassos, which are medium-bodied, food-friendly wines of moderate price, perfect for everyday enjoyment. Flavours within the wines range from fresh raspberry and cherry, to notes of dark chocolate, sweet earth and dried fruit.
Prosecco wines are made using a fermentation process known as the Charmat, or tank method, which adds the sparkle. This process is much less costly than the traditional Champagne, or bottle-fermented, method, which allows most Proseccos to be affordably-priced between $20-30 in British Columbia. A luxurious value, Prosecco wines reveal notes of tropical fruits, pear, citrus and green apple.
Fabulously Food Friendly
Giulia Pussini, event manager of Consorzio Tutela del Vino Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco, which represents producers from the historical area of Prosecco production and Olga Bussinello, director of Consorzio Tutela Vini Valpolicella agree it's no surprise that British Columbian consumers like both types so much, since they are known to be "wines of pleasure", with the power to tell the story of the regions they come from through the history, tradition, and innovation of the families and people who work there. It's about passion. It's about love. And that's something that everyone can understand. "Prosecco Superiore," says Giulia Pussini, "is so approachable and versatile that it is great as an aperitif or with light cuisine such as seafood, sushi, and other spicy foods."
Sustainability in Action
A key initiative for the Valpolicella region in 2017 is a five-year pilot project with a sharp focus on sustainability. The initiative, which shows leadership within the European Union, encourages producers to eliminate chemical use (herbicides, pesticides) in the vineyard and the winery, reduce energy usage, and improve waste management.
In 2008, a project was launched for the hills of Conegliano Valdobbiadene in Prosecco to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with certification expected in 2017. The champions of this project point out the unique position that the region has held as both a cultural landscape, and a leader of agricultural innovation, specifically within the field of sparkling wine.
"Valpolicella wines," concludes Bussinello, "could easily be paired with Asian cuisine, beef tenderloin with white truffles and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese fondue, porcini mushroom risotto, or aged cheeses.”
Ultimately, the wines of Valpolicella and Prosecco Superiore DOCG appeal to BC wine drinkers as they offer something for everyone, each at modest price points, while bringing something unique to the dinner table.