Italian Wine News – Week 01/01/08

Tocai or Tokaj who can tell the difference?

Poor old Italian Tocai, a victim of its own name is being forced to choose another by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg because it is too close to the much more famous, Hungarian Tokaj. The two wines are very different, the Hungarian Tokaj being a sweet honey coloured, semi-desert wine, with the wine from Friuli-Venezia Giulia being white and tart.

If someone can not tell the difference between these two wines either by name, reputation or taste then they shouldn’t be drinking them. How have we managed all these years to live in this state of utter confusion?

Tocai now has to break its long standing tradition and change it’s name to something else. Proposals to call the Italian wine Tocai Friulano, just Friulano, Tai or even hold to the original Tocai remain snarled up in disputes among the producers.

Prosecco still on the up – Kudos to Paris

Italian sparkling wine, generally known as spumante or prosecco, is becoming increasingly popular abroad where it is now recognized as the alternative to French champagne.

According to the Coldiretti farmers’ union, some 80 million bottles of spumante will be popped at the end of the year in Italy and 50 million bottles abroad, a 22% jump in value over last year.

Almost half of the 300 million bottles of spumante produced in Italy every year are drunk between the middle of December and the middle of January.

In Italy, the union observed, only 2% of the bubbly consumed during the end of the year holidays is French champagne and this because of the major quality/price advantage of prosecco.

This advantage is also boosting sales abroad, with increases of 16% in Germany, 8% in the United States and 72% in Britain, which is now prosecco’s third largest market.
In Russia, spumante sales are up this year by 124%, in Spain by 33% and in France prosecco imports rose 2%.

Spumante is now outselling champagne in the United States and Switzerland and last year exports of prosecco broke the threshold of 100 million bottles.

According to a recent article in the prestigious British weekly The Economist, spumante sales abroad have doubled over the past 15 years and risen fivefold over the past five years in Britain, for a total of 1.1 million bottles in 2006.

Prosecco is also winning over wine experts who accept it as the alternative to champagne, the Economist wrote.

However, the success of prosecco abroad ”will now be at risk because of the European Union reform of the wine sector which Italy voted for,” observed Coldiretti chief Sergio Marini.
Italy, Marini explained, ”failed to exploit its market position against producers in northern Europe. Italy lost a battle in Brussels and this was a defeat for the national wine sector”.
Most Italian spumante is made using the Charmat Method or ‘closed tank’ method, compared to the traditional Champenoise Method.

The Charmat Method, invented in the early 1900’s by Eugene Charmat, involves putting bubbles in wine by adding sugar to a sealed tank, letting a second fermentation take place and then transferring it to a bottle under pressure.

In the Champenoise Method, invented by the French monk Dom Perignon in 1640, the wine is fermented in the same bottle in which it will eventually be served.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Jules says:

    Nanny State

  2. Walter says:

    My opinion about the name of the Tocai wine/grape, and the funny argue among Italian and French-hungarian? Well, the italian politicians could have move earlier and in a better political contest in order to keep the old name of Tocai from Friuli venezia Giulia. The problem is that in Europe we italians don’t have a real support or fans if i may say so. Our politicians have realized a little to late that the french-hungarian were an untoucheble and unreacheble lobby, and nobody could go against their own interest an business. At the same time, i think the best name for the new Tocai could have been in the tipical dialect… “T..AJ”…The “O and C” missing are, the stolen letter of no brain people.“T..AJ” means ombra, ottavo, calice,tajut, and the contraction is “T..AJ”.Thankyou for your kindness.Sincerly your’s Walter Chiurlotto-Trieste-Italy

Leave a Reply