Posted: Sep 13, 2019
Some of Italy's finest sparkling wine makers are to drop the name 'prosecco' from their bottles because the name has been 'cheapened', it has emerged.
Historic growers are accusing new vineyards of damaging their reputation by using high-volume production methods to match demand levels.
Production of the popular fizz in Italy rose to meet increases in global demand - including from the UK which now imports 121 million bottles a year.
'Our image and the perception of our denomination is being damaged by the production of half a billion bottles of prosecco that have no history and no links to the land,' Loris Dall'Acqua, a co-founder of the Col Vetoraz vineyard near Venice, told the Times.
The main source of complaints comes from producers in the hills of the Veneto region around Conegliano and Valdobbiadene around 500 years.
Some traditional brands from the Valdobbiadene region have taken to adding 'superior prosecco' to their bottles rather than dropping it altogether
Ironically these local wines originally changed their name from 'Ribolla', of Trieste, to prosecco in order to distinguish themselves from lesser wines of the same name.
These traditional makers produce a combined 90 million bottles a year, and are all identified with the prestigious DOCG (denomination of controlled and guaranteed origin) tag.
However, when demand grew significantly a decade ago, authorities gave a lower grade status of DOC (denomination of controlled origin) to growers in nine provinces covering flatter lands in Veneto and in the neighbouring region of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
At the time they collectively produced a record 464 million bottles last year, more than five times the DOCG production.
Now, approximately eight per cent of the traditional growers joined the Col Vetoraz vineyard in dropping the prosecco name from their bottles.
'The DOCG growers feel their product is better thanks to the different drainage, soil, elevation and exposure on the hills, but it gets confused with the DOC product,' one vineyard owner said.
When demand grew significantly a decade ago, authorities gave a lower grade status of DOC (denomination of controlled origin) to growers in nine provinces covering flatter lands in Veneto and in the neighbouring region of Friuli Venezia Giulia (pictured)
Col Vetoraz vineyard said: 'The centuries-old history of the Conegliano Valdobbiadene hills got a violent shock in 2009 when a decision inspired by politics and business meant prosecco was no longer coming from the vines that 800 years ago found their ideal home.'
There are however concerns about leaving behind the prosecco name, with the head of the DOCG consortium warning that calling prosecco 'Conegliano' or 'Valdobbiadene' overseas would backfire for sales.
Consortium President Innocente Nardi suggested that instead makers to 'remind customers' that there brands a superior version of prosecco in comparison to regular DOC makers.
By William Cole
September 13, 2019
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