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Paris unfit for Prosecco

"Hilton hotels are a sign of quality; Paris Hilton is not," according wine growers from the Veneto region where Prosecco is made.

by: Mathias Wildt | 08 Feb 2008

Yet Hilton, in various high-heeled stages of undress, graces the ads of Rich Prosecco, an Austrian company selling the bubbly in 27 countries.

"Hilton hotels are a sign of quality; Paris Hilton is not," said Fulvio Brunetta, president of the wine growers association of Treviso, the northern Italian city in the Veneto region where Prosecco is made.

She parlayed her notoriety, fuelled by tabloid headlines about her partying lifestyle, into a celebrity career that has included reality television, a book and film roles.

"Paris Hilton is sensationalism. It's not good. It's not adequate for Prosecco," Brunetta said.

The association is planning two meetings next week to decide on ways to protect the Prosecco name and insure that any company selling Prosecco is actually using wine made from the Treviso area.

That's not going to stop Rich Prosecco, which says it sources its wine from the Treviso area. "We follow exactly European laws, which are very strict, especially concerning wine," said Rich Prosecco Chief Executive and owner Gunther Aloys, who founded the company in 2006.

To respect wine laws, Rich Prosecco's two fruit varieties, with a lower alcohol content and called Rich Passion and Rich Royal, are not labelled Prosecco.

Last year Rich Prosecco sold 10 million cans, primarily in Germany but also in China, India and South Korea, for about 2 euros a can.

The company's rapid growth mirrors the rise of the Prosecco region, which last year produced 50 million bottles, up 14% from 2005, and is increasing exports to Canada and the United States, though Germans remain the top foreign buyers.

The winegrowers are concerned that Rich Prosecco may give their wine the image of a cheap fruit drink. And then there's the cans, advertised by Paris, nude and painted in gold in one ad reminiscent of the James Bond film Goldfinger.

"In the US and Australia they toast with beer bottles," Brunetta said. "That's their culture. The culture of Prosecco is one of friends meeting around a good bottle."

- None


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