The European Union is demanding Australian winemakers stop using the term “prosecco” to label sparkling wine.
A free-trade deal between the EU and the Australian government has been under negotiation for years but may soon finally come to fruition.
If passed – and the EU gets its way – prosecco would join a list of protected foods and drinks considered geographical indications, and names like parmesan and feta could also be on the chopping block.
Endeavour Group head of fine wine Andrew Shedden said the issue has been “bubbling away for a while”.
“Back in the late ’90s (when) Australian producers first bought prospective vines to create prosecco wine it was considered a grape variety,” he told Sunrise on Thursday morning.
“Fast forward to 2009 and the Italian authorities have decided to change it.”
From that point on in Italy, prosecco was only used to indicate wine that was made in a winemaking region between Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is named after the village of Prosecco in the northern province of Trieste.
“We are now at a pivotal point when potentially great Australian producers won’t be able to call their wine this,” Mr Shedden said.
Prosecco hopes to rise to the luxury status of champagne, which is only made in the eponymous French winemaking region.
“Sneaky Italians, aren’t they,” Sunrise host David Koch said.
The last hope Aussies have of using the word prosecco to describe sparkling wine lies in the hands of trade negotiators.
“The great tragedy here is there’s been two decades of Australian producers putting blood, sweat and tears into building up the brand,” Mr Shedden said.
“Everybody knows it, everyone loves it and we want to keep selling it.
“It would be like changing shiraz or cabernet, it’s stupid.”
Last November, Aussie wine producers visited Parliament House in Canberra to brief parliamentarians on the importance of the prosecco varietal on the economy and wine sector.
Grape and Wine Australia chief executive Lee McLean said at the time the prosecco/glera variety had skyrocketing in popularity, growing from a $60m industry in 2007 to a now $205m industry.