As you begin to familiarize yourself with Italian wine it is likely that you are going to run across a few terms that you will not fully understand at first. After all, the wine industry can be a complex beast at times and there are occasional barriers in the way of novices who are trying to find their way around everything while exploring everything that it has to offer.
However, that is why your friends at Xtrawine are here. Via our blog, we have tried to shine as much of a spotlight as we can on the industry, both to the benefit of the amazing producers who create the wines we sell on our website and for those of you who want to learn as much as you can about the culture and quality that goes into the creation of every bottle of wine that we sell.
As such, we have decided to take a little bit more of an in-depth look into a word that you may run across quite a lot in the Italian wine industry, especially if you shop around to locate wines that may be at the higher end of the price or quality spectrum. The term we will be looking at today is Millesimato.
So What Does It Mean?
If you have ever come across a bottle of wine that carries the phrase Millesimato you may be confused. After all, it is rare for the labels themselves to carry an explanation of the term and, if they do, you are often going to find that it is written in Italian, which can make it indecipherable to those who don’t know the language.
So what does Prosecco Millesimato? In short, the term essentially means “vintage” and it is a phrase that is generally attached to wines that have attained a certain level of quality through very specific means. To be classified as a Millesimato, a wine must meet strict European Union standards that specify that the wine must contain at least 85 percent of the wine vintage that is stated on the label. Any less and the wine cannot carry the label. Of course, this on its own is not a notification of quality. After all, some of the best wines in the world have achieve their status because they mix together different vintages of grapes to create an entirely different and interesting whole.
However, a wine that carries the Millesimato is essentially going to be considered more “pure” than one that doesn’t. After all, such wines are made using primarily one vintage, which instantly marks them put as being a better representation of that type of grape than those that do a little more mixing and matching.
In many cases, it gets a little deeper than that too. Some Millesimato wine producers will only use grapes from a single vineyard in the creation of a wine that carries the label. In some cases, this means painstakingly going through every single vine that is grown to locate those deserving of the title, which in turn does mean that drinkers get to experience the wine at its highest level of quality, in addition to its highest level of purity.
One final thing. If you are looking for the Millesimato on every bottle of wine you see then stop in your tracks. It is only ever used for sparkling white wines, so you aren’t going to find it on any reds, or still whites. In fact, in the vast majority of cases, you will generally see Millesimato on Prosecco, particularly when shopping outside of Italy.
The Benefits of Millesimato
So now that you know exactly what the term means, you will probably find yourself wondering what advantages a Millesimato sparkling white may have over an equivalent that doesn’t carry the label. In truth, it can be hard to quantify those advantages. After all, as we mentioned earlier, just because something doesn’t carry the Millesimato label, doesn’t mean that it does not have a certain amount of quality attached to it.
Having said that, there are a few potential benefits that come alongside the Millesimato label, including the following.
The key benefit of a Millesimato is the fact that you know exactly what grape the wine is made with. There is very little mixing of grapes involved thanks to the EU ruling about a minimum of 85 percent. In fact, many producers will take this a step further and ensure that any wines they create that will carry the Millesimato ae made using 100 percent of the grape in question.
This purity is perhaps the truest taste of what a grape has to offer in a winemaking capacity that you will ever experience. All of the positives of the grape will be accentuated, without any of them being overshadowed by the positives of other grapes. However, you will also need to recognize that anything you may not like about the grape will also be present and will perhaps be even stronger than you would see in other wines.
Again, the Millesimato designation is not a sure-fire guarantee of quality. However, any wine that carries it will have had to undergo fairly rigorous testing, plus producers of Millesimato have to put an awful lot of effort into the cultivation and correct picking of their grapes. As such, assuming that the producer is capable of making good wines, the quality of a Millesimato is all but assured. As usual with any bottle of wine, it is still worth doing some research to find out about the particular qualities of the wine in question before you make any purchasing decisions, but it is rather rare to find a Millesimato that doesn’t maintain a certain high level of quality.
Furthermore, as many producers really wish for their Millesimato wines to stand out from the others around them, they will go out of their way to locate the best batches of grapes in a particular vintage for use in the winemaking process. As such, this offers a little extra assurance that the Millesimato wine will be good.