EU wine fight: Italy's Prosecco declares war on Croatia's Prosek drink

3 November 2021, 15:41 | Updated: 10 November 2021, 15:18

Italian and Croatian wine makers are set to go to court in a battle over the name Prosecco
Italian and Croatian wine makers are set to go to court in a battle over the name Prosecco. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Italian and Croatian wine makers are set to go to court in a battle over the name Prosecco.

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Italian Prosecco makers want to stop rival sparkling wine makers in Croatia from calling their sweet desert wine 'Prosek'.

Prosecco is the name given to sparkling white wine made in the northern Italian suburb of Trieste and although Prosek may sound similar, the Croatian produced wine is a sweet amber-coloured dessert wine.

To complicate matters further, Prosekar is another variety of wine made in the same area.

Prosek makers are fighting for the name, which they hope will give their wine greater recognition, but defenders say the European Union's system of geographical designations created to guarantee the distinctiveness and quality of artisanal food is at risk.

"Prosekar wine is the original, because it was born 300 years before Prosecco," said winemaker Milos Skabar.

"So, it is the father of Prosekar, Prosecco, Prosek and all the rest."

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The Italian government has pledged to defend Prosecco's name alongside other products linked to Italian regions such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Champagne.

"The problem for us is not that these producers, who make a very small number of bottles, enter our market. But it is the confusion it could generate among consumers," said Luca Giavi, general director of the Prosecco DOC consortium, which promotes Prosecco and assures the quality of wines under the EU's "denomination of controlled origin" designation.

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The Brussels-based European Federation of Origin Wines are also preparing a brief to support Italy.

They believe the European Commission's decision to hear the case has defied its own battle to get other nations and trading blocs to recognise the EU's system of geographic designations.

Croatia argues that the Prosek name and tradition is centuries old, predating Prosecco's protections in the EU system, and that its place as a dessert wine makes it distinct from Prosecco.

"Consumers will not be confused by this," Ladislav Ilcic, a Croatian member of the European Parliament, said in a recent debate.

"Prosek should legitimately receive the protected denomination of origin, and producers should have full access to markets."