We are laughing. As happens every year around the holidays, the media has concocted a competition to inform us that the production of Italian bubbly is about to surpass that of the king of bubblies, Champagne. And this year we popped the cork, we did it! The 2010 spumante production in Italy will arrive at 380 million bottles, against 370 million of Champagne. Naturally this pleases me a great deal. Since wine is one of the principle communicators of the Made in Italy brand throughout the world, if the quantity of Italian bubbly consumed around the globe is in constant growth, it can be no other than positive news.
I would like to further underline that in Italy there are some truly fantastic spumante labels in production, above all in Trentino and in Franciacorta, and that one of my favourite wines is Giulio Ferrari, one of the very few Italian wines that can compete in terms of quality with the reserves beyond the Alps.
I would, however, like to offer you a different reading of this phenomenon.
The reason that our Prosecco, Franciacorta, Trento Doc, and Co. have surpassed in volume, and therefore in sales, the production of Champagne is traceable to the fact that our wines cost a lot less.
The international economic situation has ensured that many consumers have redirected their preferences towards products still of quality but of lower cost.
Do not think for a minute that our spumante can compete with the quality of Champagne, despite that many people would affirm to the contrary.
The quality, depth, refinement, richness, and longevity of the best bottles of Champagne remain beyond compare; we must resign ourselves to this fact.
I can guarantee you that the greater part of consumers, consistent with cost, would chose to uncork a bottle of Champagne rather than an Italian or other spumante, good as they might be.
Beyond the numerical comparison, there is no real reflection of reality, since the comparison is always between national Italian production and that of the Champagne region only, while in France many other bubblies are produced, using both the Charmat and the Champenois methods, of very high quality and with very contained prices.
However, to avoid wronging anyone during the holidays, I will drench them with our own bubblies as well as the great Champagnes, since the enjoyment of wine…knows no boundary.