Prosecco is to Italy what Champagne is to France; namely it is the signature bubbly wine of each country. Champagne producers have fought long and hard to protect the name and integrity of their product and now it seems that Italian Prosecco producers must do the same thing. I suppose when Paris Hilton’s image appears on a can of prosecco in a gas station, that does make you stop and think. (Warning: clicking on that link may make you sputter anything you are drinking right onto your computer screen. It's bad taste on so many levels.)
Prosecco is a somewhat generic name in Italy, it can mean any sparkling Italian wine, however that is not the case. Prosecco comes only from the Prosecco grape and from the Valdobbiadene region, near Venice. So, if you are buying Prosecco, take a closer look at the label; make sure you are getting the real deal.
That being said, there are some outstanding sparkling chardonnay’s being produced in Italy. Lungarotti in Umbria makes a particularly clean, crisp sparkling wine with a delightful, lingering finish. Keep your eye open for these gems, they cost more that your basic Prosecco, but they are worth the money.