Italy and Croatia are fighting over who can use the Prosecco name: NPR


Winemaker Milos Scapar, center, works on his vineyard of the Prosekar Group in Prosecco, near Trieste, Italy, on Oct. 15. Italy has vowed to defend the name of the famous sparkling wine Prosecco as Croatia petitions the European Union to allow winemakers. To name their sweet wine Prosek.

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Winemaker Milos Scapar, center, works on his vineyard of the Prosekar Group in Prosecco, near Trieste, Italy, on Oct. 15. Italy has vowed to defend the name of the famous sparkling wine Prosecco as Croatia petitions the European Union to allow winemakers. To name their sweet wine Prosek.

Antonio Kalani/AFP

Prosecco, Italy – On small pockets of rolling terrain overlooking a bay shared by Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, Milos Scapar revives the centuries-old tradition of winemaking known as Prosekar, which shares its roots with its well-known cousin Prosecco.

But this unassuming, mysterious blend, almost unknown outside the Italian port city of Trieste where it is made on a strip of land between the Adriatic and Slovenia, is caught up in a dispute about to erupt: famed Italian sparkling winemakers Prosecco are fighting to prevent Croatian winemakers from using the name Prosek for their wine. Sweet candy.

A few Prosekar makers hope to use their ties to Prosecco’s birthplace, above Trieste, to gain greater appreciation for their wine but worry that their name is also at risk.

“Proscar wine is the original, because it was born 300 years before Prosecco,” said Scapar, surveying his vineyards with a view of the port. “So, he’s the father of Prosekar, Prosecco, Prosek, and all the rest.”

At stake in the battle is not only the sanctity of Prosecco, the world’s best-selling wine, but also the European Union’s system of geographical designations created to ensure the excellence and quality of food, wine and spirits, advocates say. That market is worth nearly €75 billion ($87 billion) a year — half of which is in wines, according to a 2020 study by the European Commission, the European Union’s executive branch.

Italy says that Prusik will cause confusion. Croatia does not agree

The Italian government has vowed to defend the Prosecco name, mobilizing other manufacturers of protected products with distinct geographical roots, from Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese to French champagne, while the European Commission prepares to deliberate on Croatia’s petition to name its specialty wine the traditional wine. Prosek’s name.

“The problem for us is not that these producers, who make a very small number of bottles, enter the market,” said Luca Giavi, Director General of the Prosecco DOC Consortium. “Prosecco promotes and guarantees the quality of wine under the EU’s “Controlled Appellation of Origin” designation.”

Prosecco has annual sales of 2.4 billion euros ($2.8 billion), most of which is exported. “Everyone views the situation as a threat to our success,” said producer Stefano Zanet, as buyers around the world may not be able to distinguish between similar names.

Croatia argues that Prosek’s name and tradition go back centuries, predates the protection of Prosecco in the European Union system, and that its status 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 must legitimately receive a Protected Designation of Origin, and producers must have full market access.”

Besides the etymological roots associated with Proseecco, the wines have little in common

The Brussels-based European Union for Wine of Origin is preparing a brief to support Italy. She believes the European Commission’s decision to look into the case challenged its own battle to get countries and other trading blocs to recognize the EU’s system of geographical designations.

The dispute, to be decided in the coming months, is likely to turn to the origin story of Prosecco, which stems from the bilingual Italian village of Prosecco near the Slovenian border above Trieste, where winemaking once flourished.

Here, the ethnic Slovenian Italians who make Prosekar, say the grapes known as Glera – the basis of both Prosecco and Prosekar – originated.


Winemaker Vesna Bukavic pours Proscar wine in Prosecco, near Trieste, Italy, on October 15.

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Winemaker Vesna Bukavic pours Proscar wine in Prosecco, near Trieste, Italy, on October 15.

Antonio Kalani/AFP

But besides the common etymological roots, Prosekar, Prosecco and Prosek have little in common.

Prosecco, made mostly from the Gleira grape, is produced by three confederations covering nine Italian provinces in the Alpine foothills that bend along the Adriatic Sea. They put out more than 550 million bottles a year.

Prosek is a sweet wine made in Dalmatia from dried native Croatian grapes, not including glara, and may be red or white.


Winemaker Stefano Zanet harvests Prosecco grapes in Colle Umberto, Italy, on October 15.

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Winemaker Stefano Zanet harvests Prosecco grapes in Colle Umberto, Italy, on October 15.

Antonio Kalani/AFP

On the other hand, Prosekar is an equal blend of Glera and two other grapes, made by less than a dozen small producers. In the past decades, Prosekar was mainly produced at home and shared among friends, family, and neighbours, often served in designated bars in private homes.

Winemakers provide evidence of Prosecco connections

Prosecco makers moved to protect their coveted GIs 12 years ago, after seeing winemakers in northeastern Italy lose the right to use the Tocai mark in a European decision protecting wine produced in the Hungarian Tokaji region. In Italy, Tocai was simply the name of a grape variety, with no geographical ties. The decision caught the makers of Friuli Tocai, who struggled to find a market with a new name: Friulano.

Both the Italian and Croatian regions disputed over the name Prosecco share a history of Venetian and then Austro-Hungarian control, which stretched during the period when Prosecco migrated northwest, into present-day Italy, and south, along the Croatian Dalmatian coast.


A view of a house number on a street in Prosecco, the bilingual Italian village near the Slovenian border where the grapes that are the basis of both Prosecco and Prosecco.

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A view of a house number on a street in Prosecco, the bilingual Italian village near the Slovenian border where the grapes that are the basis of both Prosecco and Prosecco.

Antonio Kalani/AFP

Prosecco advocates say the name Prosek was never uniformly applied and came to mean even a generic form of dessert wine.

Wine historian Stefano Cosma said written documents link the village of Prosecco to wine as early as the 17th and 18th centuries, when the wine was called “Prosecco” to refer to their village of origin. “By the nineteenth century,” he said, “it was already sparkling wine.”

In Prosecco at present, Prosekar winemakers hope that since the European Union has included the village itself in the geographical area for protected wine, they may have a chance to expand their market for Prosekar, which they say was first made in 1548.

The makers of Prosek and Prosekar say they’re out of the law for now, but they’re forgiving

But because their wine has not received an EU designation, Prosekar producers like Prosek makers are banned from using their name. Andrej Bole, Prosekar’s sixth-generation producer, said they haven’t been challenged yet as long as they don’t sell outside Trieste.

“We’re outlaws. But for now, we’re tolerant,” Polly said.

They work with the Prosecco consortium to help their wine earn the coveted Badge of Origin, which is awarded with each wine. The head of the consortium said that the issue of the legal use of the name Prosekar will not be resolved until this obstacle is removed.

“We have to look at European standards,” Giavi said. “But there is this option that we don’t mind.”

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