Australian ‘Prosecco’ selling like hotcakes

A “Prosecco” from Western Australia that aims to go head-to-head with the Italian sparkler has just been released and is already selling well, its maker has reported.

Larry Cherubino

Larry Cherubino

Keen to capitalise on the runaway success of Italian sparkler Prosecco, sales of which are booming all over the world, WA winemaker Larry Cherubino has launched his own Australian “Prosecco”.

Named Carte Blanc, perhaps in a cheeky hat tip to the fact that he’s been given carte blanche to do it; Cherubino told db that he was legally able to call the sparkler a Prosecco, despite it not coming from the northern Italian region.

Carte Blanc “Prosecco” from Pemberton

“I planted a lot of Glera six years ago in Pemberton and we’ve just released our first “Prosecco” under the Ad Hoc brand. We made 1,000 cases and it’s all already allocated.

“It’s a bit cheeky but I’m planning on taking the Prosecco producers head on. The Prosecco machine is just starting to kick in but sadly I don’t have enough of it to sell it outside Australia,” Cherubino told db. “There are a lot of pretenders and wannabes in Victoria trying to jump on the bandwagon,” he added.

Ad Hoc Carte Blanc Prosecco is priced at AU$26 (£12), so it doesn’t come cheap. Cherubino revealed that the Aussie thirst for Champagne is still insatiable, but he hopes consumers will start paying attention to homegrown sparklers.

“We have a big appetite for Champagne here but we’re making some good stuff of our own in Tasmania, Victoria, the Yarra Valley and Pemberton, which excels in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay,” he said.

He also spoke of the trend for skin contact “orange” wines in Australia, but stressed that he won’t be bottling one anytime soon. “Orange wines aren’t my thing – complexity is good in wine up to a point. I like vibrancy in my wines,” he said.

A decade ago Cherubino started his own label, which has several tiers including the single vineyard and single varietal focused The Yard and top tier Cherubino range, of which only around 100 cases of each wine are made a year.

China has grown to become Cherubino’s third largest market with sales up 20% year on year. “Momentum is building there – it helps that we’re nearby and are in the same time zone. Chinese consumers are extremely savvy now and are shopping around for their wines as they want quality wines at a good price,” he said.

“Western Australia has benefitted from this as we can offer refined Bordeaux blends at a reasonable price. You get a lot of flavour within a light frame with our reds,” he added.

6 Responses to “Australian ‘Prosecco’ selling like hotcakes”

  1. Gordon says:

    Hi
    Interesting article. How is that this wine can ‘legally’ be called ‘Prosecco’? I thought that the name was protected for use by those within the Prosecco area?

  2. Wombles says:

    Same doubt here, Gordon! Maybe he can get away with it if he does not export?

  3. Markus says:

    Hi there.
    Well this question leeds to some detailed explanation: Prosecco in Australia is still the name of a grape variety and not of a designation of origin like in Italy. In Italy there exist among others the protected designations of origin Prosecco DOC and Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG. Since 2009 the grape variety is called Glera in the European Unions, Glera being the ancient/roman name of the Prosecco grape. Before that the grape variety was called Prosecco but the change in the designations of origin in Italy led to a change in the name of the grape variety to protect these designations of origin. To my knowledge there was an attempt by the European Commission to register in Australia the word Prosecco as a protected designation of origin for the wines coming from the Italian region. This attempt was denied in 2013 by the Registrar based on an objection raised by the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia pursuant to the Wine Australia Corporation Act 1980. Since Prosecco is not listed in the international agreement of 2008 between the European Community and Australia on trade in wine and on the mutual recognition of designations of origin there was probably no reason why the Registrar was obliged to recognize Prosecco as a designation of origin. So Prosecco is still a grape variety in Australia. I assume that Larry Cherubino refers to this case when he says that he legally can call his sparkler Prosecco. Cheers!

  4. Sean says:

    It does strike as a bit odd. But prosecco is the name of the grape variety in Australia and there’s a bit of history at play: see note at http://www.grapeobserver.com/2014/07/prosecco-and-prosecco.html

    For EU exports, I understand it needs to be labelled as glera.

    Cheers
    Sean

  5. Marcus Ansems MW says:

    Just because it might be legal to sell a fake Rolex in some places doesn’t make it right. Copycat marketing is such a backwards step for the Australian wine industry. He better not get annoyed if he sees “Barossa” and “Coonawarra” on non-Australian wines when visiting China! Marcus Ansems MW

  6. Don Clemens says:

    At $26 AUD, or about $18.36 US, it better be damned good Prosecco. We’re seeing Italian Proseccos for under $10 US, with very good versions under $15 US. Tacking on duties, shipping and taxes will send this little beauty to more than $22.00 US. Good luck!

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