Prosecco is widely recognised as a grape variety, but it can’t be used as a grape variety in some markets including Europe, China, Canada, South Africa, Chile and Vietnam. So, why are the rules in each market so different?
Following a decree made under European law in 2009 that the variety Prosecco shall be renamed to Glera, the European Commission (EC) no longer recognises Prosecco as a grape variety, but instead an Italian Geographical Indication (GI).
The EC has tried to register Prosecco in Australia, which was successfully opposed by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) on the grounds that it is a grape variety.
The Italian Consorzio Di Tutela Della Denominazione Di Origine Controllata Prosecco (the Consortium) has ramped up attempts over last few years to have the GI Prosecco registered in import markets to the exclusion of the use of the term as a grape variety.
For example, in China the Consortium has successfully registered the Chinese version of Prosecco: ‘普罗塞克’ (‘PU LUO SAI KE in Chinese’). That mark became registered on 7 October 2016.
This poses risk to any party wanting to use the term as a grape variety in China (even in English). In fact, the Consortium could theoretically already begin enforcement actions against ongoing sales of non- Italian Prosecco in China.
With support from Wine Australia, WFA is preparing to file an application to have the Consortium’s Chinese-language Prosecco registration invalidated.
In Japan, the Consortium are pushing through the European Union (EU)–Japan Free Trade Agreement for the protection of the standalone term ‘Prosecco’.
The EU has bilateral agreements with Canada, South Africa, Chile and, most recently, Vietnam that also have the potential to prevent the use of term Prosecco as a grape variety name. While the United States of America (USA) has a bilateral agreement with the EU on wine through which the USA has agreed to protect the Italian GI of Prosecco, the use of the term as a grape variety is still allowed.
An opposition to the application of the term as a trade mark in Malaysia has been lodged by WFA.
If you are unsure about the situation pertaining to Prosecco in an import market, you should liaise with Wine Australia and with your distributor.