Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Prosecco Seeks the Spotlight

It is sometimes gets lumped in with the likes of Asti Spumante and other sparkling wines that you see people drop a sugar cube into.

But the people who produce Prosecco are hoping to change that. According to the N.Y. Times:

With its fresh flavor, pleasing bubbles and gentle price tag — it typically sells for $10 to $20 a bottle — prosecco has gained many fans worldwide. Global sales have been growing by double-digit percentages for 10 years, to more than 150 million bottles last year.

And with consumers in an economizing mood this holiday season, prosecco is an increasingly popular alternative to Champagne, which has been soaring in price.

But unfortunately there is an image problem:

Because prosecco is the name of a grape, like chardonnay or cabernet, anyone can use the name.

Today, about 60 percent of all prosecco — some eight million cases — comes from producers outside the traditional prosecco-growing region of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, a cluster of villages about a half-hour’s drive north of Venice.

. . . The newcomers are not held to the same strict production standards as the traditional producers, which are tightly governed under Italian wine laws.

One product, Rich Prosecco, is made by an Austrian company whose ads feature Paris Hilton. In some, she is naked and spray-painted gold. What’s worse to some producers, the product is sold in a 6.8-ounce can, in gas stations as well as stores, for around $3.

“It’s absolutely vulgar,” says Vittorio Zoppi, marketing manager for the prosecco consortium

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