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Are EU Lawmakers Going to Destroy the Italian Wine Industry?

France, you get a free pass today. The European Common Market Organization is my newest punching bag when it comes to idiotic wine regulations.

I can hardly believe it, but new wine industry reforms proposed by this body apparently will result in the elimination of Italy's DOC and IGT designations for wine.


If that doesn't make your blood boil, then you're not paying attention.

These reforms, which would go into effect in 2009 if adopted, seem to suggest the equivalent action to taking all of the individual Bordeaux appellations and replacing them with just two: "Left Bank" and "Right Bank." For instance, according to Decanter Magazine, one of the proposed new designations would merge all of the surrounding areas (currently designated Barbera and Dolcetto) with Barolo -- making no distinction between those "village" wines and what is certainly one of Italy's most historical and prestigious wine regions. In all, Italy's 316 DOCs, 38 DOCGs and 118 IGT appellations would apparently be collapsed to a mere 182 designations.

Now, I'm not in favor of the mass proliferation of wine appellations. I think beyond a certain point there are diminishing returns to the slicing and dicing of terroir into ever finer designations and regulations.

But how could anyone in their right mind think that reducing the number of Italian wine appellations by 75% could possibly be a good thing?

Would one of my European readers explain to me how on earth this travesty of legislation even got out of committee?

Read the full story. And then if you're an EU passport holder, please, write your parliamentarian, or whatever it is you do when you're pissed off at the government.

Comments (10)

andrea gori wrote:
09.07.08 at 4:26 AM

alder , we are speaking about these things in these days...

but just yesterday our minister Zaia said that there's nothing to worry about since the application of the OCM says that the old DOC IGT and DOCG will not be replaced by the new European DOP and IGP just like in France AOC will continue to exist. SO no drama e no disaster like decanter wrote...

09.07.08 at 8:19 AM

Well, there is a point to fix. The article 54, par. 1, let. a) of the Reg. n. 479/2008 which will be operative next year from the first of August says:

"Le menzioni tradizionali potranno essere utilizzate per indicare che il prodotto reca una DOP o IGP, in loro sostituzione. Pertanto tali Menzioni Tradizionali corrispondono alle Menzioni specifiche tradizionali nazionali di cui alla preesistente normativa comunitaria (allegato III del Reg. n. 753-2002) che per l’Italia sono: DOCG, DOC, Vino dolce naturale, IGT, Vin de Pays, Landwein"

The Menzioni Trazionali (traditional appellations) could be used to indicate that a product has a DOP or IGP (It means that they can replace the new ones). So, these Menzioni Trazionali are the traditional specific national appellations which, for Italy, are: DOCG, DOC, Vino dolce naturale, IGT, Vin de Pays, Landwein.

Yesterday there was a spoke of the italian agricolture minister Luca Zaia who reassured the traditional appellations will not disappear. I suggest to wait for some months before saying something for sure.

Dylan wrote:
09.07.08 at 10:14 AM

Alder, I agree. Thanks for the clarifications Fabio; I hope that Minister Zaia's words hold true to maintaining the traditional appellations.

Mike Tommasi wrote:
09.07.08 at 11:23 PM

The absurd rumour that was started by the europe-bashers at Citta del Vino, and that is now being propagated even by Decanter, concerns the elimination of most of those appellations, no matter whether you call them DOP or DOC. This is absurd because the regulation is very clear, all existing appellations are automatically protected:

Article 51
Existing protected wine names
1. Wine names, which are protected in accordance with Articles 51 and 54 of Regulation (EC) No 1493/1999 and Article 28 of Regulation (EC) No 753/2002, shall automatically be protected under this Regulation. The Commission shall list them in the register provided for in Article 46 of this Regulation.

Andrea is right, Zaia stated that the words DOC and DOCG could be maintained in lieu of the new DOP, which is what article 54 states:

Traditional terms
Article 54
1. "Traditional term" shall mean a term traditionally used in Member States for products referred to in Article 33(1) to designate:
(a) that the product has a protected designation of origin or geographical indication under Community or Member State law;
(b) the production or ageing method or the quality, colour, type of place, or a particular event linked to the history, of the product with a protected designation of origin or geographical indication.

IOW, Barolo DOC does not have to become Barolo DOP. Fabio, what you reproduced above is not the article but an interpretation, probably by Zaia.

Much ado about nothing, and lots of gullible people.

gianpaolo wrote:
09.08.08 at 9:29 AM

It has to be said that nobody, I repeat, nobody has formally informed us (the growers) about these changes so far. So it is thank to bloggers, and expecially thank to Mike that is always so meticulously informed (I thought you had your day job to carry on too Mike...) that we know something about this little thing about completely reforming the Appellation System in EU.
Having read what Mike reported, we agree that in the end nothing is going to change, really.
But is it really a good news that we keep the absourdly high number of 316 DOCs, 38 DOCGs and 118 IGT untouched?
It has to be noted that many of those DOCs and IGTs (obviously less the case for the DOCGs) were politically created, and more importantly, only a few growers use some of the most meaningless of them. They should have been already cancelled under the existing was that require that at least a certain number of growres use them for a certain span of time, and if that doesn't happen, they should be canecelled. But nobody ever does that.
I hope that somewhere a dibate about this situation will take place and lead people to think if there is a better way to present and promote Italian wines.

Mike Tommasi wrote:
09.08.08 at 11:15 AM

Gianpaolo hi - yes I do have several day jobs :-) I agree 100% and I wish that what Citta del Vino reported was... true! Nothing would bring clarity to the world market than a drastically reduced number of appellations. The protected area must have some terroir characteristics, otherwise knowing that some plonk comes from Arcole DOC or Merlana DOC is about as interesting as knowing that a bottle of Coke was bottled in Campogalliano. Geographic origin in itself is not interesting.

Peter May wrote:
09.10.08 at 2:22 PM

I don't understand. You say that the effect of this would be "equivalent action to taking all of the individual Bordeaux appellations and replacing them with just two".

OK, so explain why that will not happen? If it is an EU then it affects all EU countries not just Italy. Including France.

I do not believe story for a moment. It has all the marks of one of those virus warning emails that stridently tell you to pass it on to everyone on your mailing list

Time to switch on the BS indicator .

Rajiv wrote:
09.11.08 at 3:00 PM

I recently talked with Giuseppe Vajra, of G.D. Vajra. He said that lots of compromises and negotiations are still to come, and he is confident that while changes will occur, they will not be so drastic as people think.

Delton Foley wrote:
08.03.09 at 11:54 PM

hello posters. It has been some time since the last entry in this blog (which I came upon by accident while studying Italian wines).
Has anyone heard an update or final resolution to the proposal? My intuition tells me that the language regarding the perpetuation by grandfathering all existing designates will be have prevailed but I wonder where that will leave, for example, a future effort to designate "arneis di Canale DOC?"

09.27.14 at 12:43 PM

Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog loading?

I'm trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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