I was invited to a major retailers press tasting recently. It was especially interesting to taste through a wide range of sparkling wines, from an inexpensive Italian all the way to Bollinger.
In fact the entry point Italian wine (not Prosecco) was not bad - simple, fruity and easy to drink. This was followed by a number of Proseccos. These were unbelievably poor. Flat-tasting, dull, with a cardboard taste. Even the Conegliano Prosecco was disappointing. Why do people buy Prosecco? Certainly not for what is in the bottle!
The French traditional Method wine was much better - crisp and fresh and with some complexity. The English wines were excellent, if rather expensive. The Champagnes shown were good - the retailer only chose to show more premium wines, not the cheap £10 Champagnes they will undoutedly have to compete with the discounter at Christmas. For me the best of the Champagnes were the own label Blanc de Noirs and Bollinger, which had that biscuity brioche taste that shows it has been matured on the Lies in the bottle for longer. If you don't know what I mean take a bottle of our Cremant de Bourgogne (2 years on the Lies) and compare it to the fresh crisp Domaine Salmon Imperial Brut (10 months).
So why do us Brits buy so much Prosecco? It's cheap, stylishly Italian and looks good. It's a pity about the taste! I will definitely spend a couple of pounds more to get something better!