Italy and Croatia fight it out over wine brands

Prosek comes from white grapes that are grown in Dalmatia’s southern region. The traditional method involves drying the grapes on straw mats and pressing them. The wine is more expensive than other dessert wines because it contains many more grapes in each bottle. However, the name has been prohibited across the EU because of Italian objections since 2013. The wine is sold under the name Vio Dalmato.

Croatia has been fighting to overturn this decision ever since. Much to the fury of Italy’s government, the European Commission has taken action on Croatia’s recent request for Prosek to be granted special status in the EU under Protected Designation of Origin rules. Italian laws and this status protect Prosecco. The Italians are furious that Brussels may give prosek the same protection. Who will win the battle?

Battle begins

Croatia attempted in 2013 to begin the registration process to obtain PDO status of Prosek, the year that it joined the EU. the European Commission declined to register Prosek despite the fact that it is a completely different product.

, the Balkan state is adamant about prosek being part of its heritage dating back before Roman times. Croatian wine is produced at home, according to family recipes. When children are born, it is not uncommon for parents to keep the prosek from that particular year so that they can drink it at their child’s wedding.

Cottage industry. Jennifer Wright/Alamy

Prosecco’s sales have been rising strongly despite the pandemic. In the first four months of 2021, there was an increase of 17%. The total production is more than 600 million bottles per year.

Prosecco is also part of an extremely long tradition. The dry sparkling wine is produced in northeastern Italy. It comes from the Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and the area surrounding the village of Prosecco. It was known in the past as Pucinum, after a castle nearby. The Roman philosopher Gaius Plinius Secundus said that Augusta, the Roman Empress, attributed her long life to this wine.

What the law says

Anyone who is granted a PDO in the EU enjoys strong protection since they can prevent others from using or registering names that could confuse consumers about the true origin of a product. The PDO can prevent other producers from exploiting the “evocative powers” of the brand by translating it into other languages.

Italy should be able to block Croatia’s application if it can convince the European Commission that an average EU consumer might believe that Italian producers of Prosecco sold Prosek and be confused or that Prosek could be translated into Croatian for prosecco. Italy now has 60 days to file an official opposition from the date Croatia submitted its application on September 22, 2018.

Prosecco sales would not be affected by allowing prosek in the EU. Italians are concerned that the EU commission could create a precedent that would enable foreign products to be labeled as “Italian” – according to Italy’s Agriculture Minister, Stefano Patuanelli. , an Italian member of the European Parliament, Paolo de Castro, has also protested that “prosek” is just the translation of the word ‘prosecco.

The Commission has justified the Croatian application by stating that two names with similar sounding names are both protected in principle as long as confusion is avoided. Croatia is likely to highlight this during the proceedings in addition to highlighting its centuries-old wine.

Existing case law may help Italy win. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in 2008 that the use of the word parmesan for German cheesemakers’ version of the hard cheese is an illegal evocative interpretation of Italy’s Parmigiano. The same court also ruled a few weeks back that was wrong to use the term “champanillo” for a Spanish expression that means “little champagne”. This would lead consumers to believe the sparkling wine being sold is French champagne.

Strictly Italian. Brent Hofacker

Another EU case that Italy can rely on is 2005’s Tokaji dispute. Tokaji, a Hungarian sweet wine, was ruled to be confusing to the Italian dry white wine.

It would be ironic, given that Friuli Venezia Giulia (one of two regions in Italy that produce prosecco) is one of those main regions to make the drink if a ruling that was made against some Italian winemakers ended up helping others.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *