Gripes about grapes as EU says Croatian Prosek wine sounds too much like Italian Prosecco

Latest member of the European Union has been given early taste of union's more unpalatable laws

Hvar

Andro Tomic raised a glass of his beloved Prosek while underwater in a sight-seeing submarine, looked at the rich, amber wine and wondered wryly whether it was the only place where it may be safe from the reach of the bureaucracy of Brussels.

Prosek has been an intrinsic part of the social culture of these parts, the skills of production, from a variety of grapes planted centuries ago, passed down through generations, the drink of choice at private and public celebrations.

But all that is now in jeopardy. Croatia, the latest member of the European Union, has been given an early taste of one of the union's more unpalatable laws. Prosek, it has been decided, sounds too much like the Italian Prosecco and must be given a new identity. The fact that it is a heavy desert wine while the latter is light and sparkling does not cut any ice with the officials: rules, they points out, are rules.

Mr Tomic, whose wines have won international awards, was on board a bright red miniature submarine, recently launched to provide sight-seeing for visitors to Hvar. The island on the Adriatic is doing extremely well out of the tourist trade. As well as miles of azure blue seas, valleys carpeted by wildflowers, Unesco World Heritage sites and arts festivals, Prosek, the locals point out, is one of reasons for the attraction.

"We are bewildered by this, the two wines are so different, there is no reason for confusion" protested Mr Tomic. "There is no question of us copying the Italians - these grapes, these wines have been around for hundreds of years. This is part of our heritage. I would like these officials to tell me why they have taken this position, it makes no sense."

The explanation came from a spokesman the EU Agricultural Commission: "The rules are clear that a product which bears a name very similar to a product which is already on the market, and has the protection of EU law, should not also be in the market. To do so could create confusion among customers and mislead them. The producers of Prosecco would be right to be concerned."

Josip Filipovic, who is considering investing in leisure facilities in Hvar, found the EU stance risible. "Obviously the public in the EU must get easily confused with names. Then, one must ask, why wasn't Romania asked to change its name when it joined. Imagine a family from Germany looking forward to a week in Rome ending up in Bucharest by mistake. What about Slovakia and Slovenia, surely one of them should have been given another name as well?

"No, this is to do with Italians. Their economy is not doing too well, just trying to keep out any kind of competition, even from a wine which is nothing like Prosecco. We only hope that the EU doesn't bring in more such rules, Hvar is doing well, and we don't want the economy here getting damaged."

Named as one of the top ten desirable island holiday destinations by Conde Nast Traveller, with an energetic tourist board, the island appears to be doing very well indeed. Social 'A list' visitors in recent times have included Clint Eastwood, George Clooney, Jack Nicholson, Stephen Spielberg and the Beckhams. Among the yachts moored on the marina have been those of King Abdullah of Jordan, Bill Gates and Roman Abramovich. Prince Harry had fallen into the water at a party following, it is claimed, a few too many Proseks.

The grapes for Proseks, according to Croats, were brought to Hvar by the Greeks in 4th Century BC. There is, however, an Italian connection to the wine trade for which it has become renowned, with the Venetian empire which captured the island in the 12th Century introducing advanced viticulture of tis time.

At his winery in a Jelsa, a particularly pretty part of the island where he produces Hektorovic, the country's finest Prosek according to many, Mr Tomic explained the very individual way the wine is produced using the passito method from grapes which have been dried to concentrate their juice which yields the sweet taste.

"It is something special to this area, Dalmatia. But we have always been very keen to share it with others. We have always welcomed people from the outside to come, not just the rich, but all different types, " said Mr Tomic, who also produces other award-winning wines that are being exported. "I am in favour of the EU, I am in favour of opening up and the opportunities it will bring. But we do not like these rules. But it is not just the fault of the EU."

"Croatian officials should have protected Prosek more during accession negotiations. Now they are sending instructions to 'harmonise' production of the wine which, he feels, may harm quality. "They want us to adopt some practices which are not beneficial. The winegrowers must get together and decide what to do. We can't give up" he said pouring out generous measures into glasses.

Paul Bradbury, from England, who settled in Hvar 11 years ago and is a keen promoter of the Hvar Wine Association, said: "One of the exciting things about going into the EU was that it would help spread recognition of Croatian wines which are making real inroads abroad now. So the controversy about Prosek was rather unfortunate. But people here are very resilient, I am sure they'll make sure Prosek survives and prospers."

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Extras
indybest
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

h2 Recruit Ltd: New Business Sales Manager - Talent Management - £60,000 OTE

£35000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: h2 Recruit Ltd: A true market leader in ...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Consultant - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Visitor Centre - Attraction Manager

£50000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: For the first time in its 1,000...

Recruitment Genius: Air Conditioning Service and / or Installation Engineers

£27400 - £33500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time air conditioning, ven...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?