British Fizz: A group is calling for protected status of English sparkling wine (and not everyone is popping a bottle open)

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Not everyone is behind the group's idea to apply for protected status
Not everyone is behind the group's idea to apply for protected status (Source: Getty)

Yesterday, the UK Vineyard Association said it was applying for protected status from the EU for English sparkling wine under the name "British Fizz", but a branding expert said the name could be an "unmitigated disaster" for the wine industry.

Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status would boost the industry's fast-growing product by giving it recognisable, marketable terms as well as ensuring its quality, said Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director of English Wine Producers. English wine production is set to double to 10m bottles per year by 2020.

An approval would rank British Fizz with the likes of other protected UK products, including Cornish pasties, Arboath smokies, Scotch beef and Melton Mowbray pork pies.

Peter Knapp, global creative officer of Landor and an expert in the branding industry, said the push to name the fruits of the industry "British Fizz" could be a potential "unmitigated disaster".

Knapp has worked on the corporate branding of huge names, including Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Marks & Spencer and British Airways.

"It's a shame, because the name gets off to a good start; 'British' denotes heritage, quality and tradition, but welding it together with the flippant, cartoon-ish word 'fizz' makes the name almost paradoxical." He said the name was reminiscent of Babycham.

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) said although a "catchy shorter name could help boost exports", there is no need for a PGI application to get English sparkling wine makers behind an agreed generic game.

"Any application for a 'British Fizz' PGI is a side show right now – especially while it does not have the full support of the English sparkling wine industry and when we are just weeks away from triggering Article 50," said Miles Beale, chief executive of WSTA.

Beale said British winemakers should be working to persuade the government to cut the wine duty in the next Budget instead of working on a process that could take up to four years, according to the British agriculture ministry.

Knapp suggested drawing on regional differences such as with the regions of Champagne or Bordeaux in France, suggesting "a glass of Sussex" has a better ring to it than "British Fizz".

"Ultimately, from a branding perspective, 'British Fizz' is a name which could well denigrate anything which comes behind it, and will reflect badly on the British wine industry as a whole – not just the producers of sparkling wine."

English wine only makes up one per cent of the sparkling market – which includes prosecco, cava and others – but by 2022, six British vineyards plan to produce more than one million bottles per year alone.

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