The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - September 27

Producers and fans of Italian Prosecco are up in arms over plans by an Austrian company to market the sparkling white wine in a can. The wine in a can is called Rich Prosecco and American heiress and jetsetter Paris Hilton has been hired to be the product's pitch girl. Makers of quality Prosecco, which is produced in the northeast zones of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, are very worried that the reputation of their wine will suffer from the marketing of an inferior product.

"Rich Prosecco is a blantant example of exploiting the Prosecco name. The name means everything and Prosecco's success has come thanks to decades of hard work by over 3,000 vineyards and 130 producers," said Franco Adami, chairman of the consortium of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene producers.

Although Prosecco made in in this area north of Venice is protected by European Union law and has the DOC quality seal on its label, the name prosecco itself is not copyrighted because it specifically refers to the grape used in making the wine. "Prosecco has became synonymous with our region. Now we are seeing the reputation we have worked to build exploited in order to make an easy profit," Adami added.

Prosecco producers have the support of farmers' unions like Coldiretti but not authorities in the Veneto region. "No one gets upset over caviar being sold in a can and no one confuses tinned meat with a fillet. So I don't see what the fuss is all about", said Veneto Region Vice President Luca Zaia. According to Zaia, who is also responsible for agricultural affairs in the region, "if anything, attention should be focused on the quality of the product, given that the wine is produced in our region".

In order to protect quality Prosecco, producers have decided to launch a major advertising campaign aimed at highlighting the differences between 'real' Prosecco and the inferior product being sold in a can. Italian sparkling wine, which aside from Prosecco includes as Spumante, has been a major success story with an 11% increase in export value in the first five months of 2006, over the same period the previous year.