Are you an Italian sparkling wines lover? Do you live in USA?
Well, this post is for you!
Laura Donadoni analyzes the consumption of Italian sparkling wines in USA.
Well, but who is Laura? She’s an Italian wine journalist who lives in California. Laura is the founder and owner of Laura Donadoni P.R. and Marketing Agency. She’s also Silver Pin Certified Sommelier. You can read her blog on laurawines.com!
Then she’s the ideal candidate for this interesting analysis!
Are you ready? I will now hand over to Laura.
Italian Sparkling Wines
Who wouldn’t like to be sparkle up a little bit?
It’s really a magic moment for Italian bubbles in U.S., especially now in Holiday season when all the lunches, brunches and dinners start or finish with a toast to Christmas or the new year.
What’s the most drunk wine?
If you are looking for Italian sparkling wines in U.S. probably what you’ll easily find everywhere, like mineral water, is Prosecco.
Prosecco is undoubtedly the king of the U.S. market: Prosecco sales grew in value 11.7% in the first 9 months of 2016. The price range of the Veneto Charmat bubbles goes from 9 to 18 $ per bottle if we are talking about a DOCG, but it can go down to 6-7 $ per bottle for the more commercial, lower quality wines.
The success of Prosecco can be explained surely by its easy drinking character, the low alcohol level, the aromaticness of Glera variety, but also by its extreme versatility: it’s the perfect base for several cocktails, from brunch (Mimosa and Bellini are very popular) to happy hour or even after dinner hits. Therefore, recent statistics showed how the Millennials (young consumers under 35 years old) love light body, bubbly and fresh wines more than the classics: Prosecco is bubbly, cheap, easy drinking and aromatic. What else?
What it’s still confusing among U.S. consumers is the difference between Charmat production method and méthode champenoise: the word Champagne is still wrongly and commonly used to indicate a generic sparkling wine, marking no difference between the two production processes. Difference that can justify the higher price, but that usually most of the consumers ignore.
Franciacorta wines, Italian most famous méthode champenoise wines, are spreading on the U.S. market, too, but with more difficulties: first of all the price. The average price of a Franciacorta is around 30 $ per bottle (from the 19 $ of the basic Brut to the 70-90 $ of the oldest single-vintage), much more than Prosecco, much less than a Champagne. Potentially Franciacorta could lead the market between the 2 extremes (Prosecco and Champagne), but the consumers usually don’t know why Franciacorta is different from Prosecco and more similar to Champagne. This is the challenge Franciacorta is facing now from a communication and image point of view in USA. Still, Franciacorta is hard to find in wine shops and restaurants: if all the wine shops and all the restaurants have at least one Prosecco on the list, we can say that only 1 on 6 or 7 has a Franciacorta.
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Other Italian bubbles
Excluding Prosecco, the other two “evergreen” Italian sparkling classics represent a huge slice of the market: Moscato d’Asti and Lambrusco. They are not popular as Prosecco, not anymore at least, but they still are preferred by the young and not expert wine consumers. They are both low in alcohol, sweet (the Moscato), slightly sparkling, semi-sparkling (the Lambrusco) and cheap (Lambrusco average is 3 $ per bottle, Moscato 5 $). It’s easy to understand why they are widely distributed and sold all over the States. Moscato d’Asti sales skyrocketed in 2012 and from that moment they slightly grew year by year.
New interesting wines
Other Italian bubbles are catching the curiosity of the wine lovers in USA. Since sparkling wines are having so much success wine buyers are looking for something new. Oltrepò Pavese wines, even if not easy to find on the market (way less than Franciacorta), are getting more attention from the importers and distributors. Oltrepò Pavese is the perfect Italian terroir for Pinot Noir, the sparkling wines from Pavia area can be very high quality and, most importantly for the consumers, they are easy drinking and cheap: fruity, zesty, refreshing, easy to pair with food. The average price of a sparkling méthode champenoise Oltrepò Pavese is 12-15 $ per bottle.
In the last 2 years we saw several Italian wine regions, which are not traditionally sparkling wines producers, market méthode champenoise or Charmat bubbles from their indigenous varieties. Sometimes you can see in the wine lists of the most fashionable wine bar in L.A. or N.Y. sparkling Verdicchio, Bombino or Cataratto, following this trend to look for something exotic, mysterious and different. But we certainly can’t say it is a trend for the whole country.
What do you think about?
So, what will be in the glass of Americans toasting Christmas dinner and New Year’s Eve? Probably more Italian bubbles and less French. We wish!
What’s your favorite Italian sparkling wine? Let me know with a comment!
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