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Prosecco vs prošek: Italy and Croatia set for EU wine tussle

Fresh efforts by Croatia to make ‘prošek’ wine a protected name have drawn more stinging criticism from Italian trade bodies, who say the word is too similar to Prosecco.      

Croatia wants to make dessert-style wine prošek a ‘traditional term’ under EU law, but Italian wine body Federvini said the move was unacceptable and too close to the Prosecco name.

A tussle at EU level is looming after the Croatian government’s formal application to register prošek was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 22 September.

In response, Federvini said Italy has a 60-day window to oppose the move, which it described as ‘an assault on our culture’.

Micaela Pallini, Federvini’s president, said that EU recognition for the term prošek would be ‘highly misleading for international consumers’ and would penalise Italy’s Prosecco exporters, even if the similarity between the two is in the name rather than the wine style.

While Prosecco is a sparkling wine, Croatian ‘prošek’ is a sweet, dessert-style wine made from dried grapes, notably in the Dalmatia region.

It must be made from grapes that contain at least 150° Oe (Oechsle degrees) of sugar, according to the application published in the EU Journal.

Prošek may be red or white, and the ‘colour may range from dark yellow with shades of old gold to reddish with brown shades’, the Croatian government application states.

Prosecco’s DOCG council reiterated its opposition to the Croatia’s prošek proposal. ‘Today we must work as a team to protect our product and the name Prosecco, but also to avoid creating dangerous precedents,’ said Elvira Bortolomiol, president of Consortium Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore.

Italy’s agriculture minister, Stefano Patuanelli, has announced a task force to assess options following Croatia’s formal application to register ‘prošek’.

‘We are now part of the technical table set up by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture, through which all the necessary counter measures will be put in place,’ said Bortolomiol.

A European Commission spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment on the next steps in the process.

According to Federvini, the Prosecco market is worth €2bn per year, with exports accounting for 50% of this amount.


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