ITALY NEWS

Protection against 'Pinocchio'

Artificial aging process enrages winemakers
(issue no. 38/2006 / July 27, 2006)
Italian politicians, farmers and wine producers have joined forces in a bid to protect the wine industry from the threat posed by artificial aging techniques. They are concerned that the use of wood chips to speed up the aging process and to give wines barrel flavour, a prac-tice the EU recently approved, will lower standards and threaten Italys lead in the sector. This is because, according to the new EU regu-lations, there will be no distinction on labels between wines aged artificially and those produced with traditional techniques. Experts say that this will damage Italian producers ability to differentiate the nations fine wines from those that foreign competitors churn out using cost-saving shortcuts.

Last week a cross-party group of MPs presented a motion in parliament calling on the government to take action to protect Italys quality produce from Pinocchio wine. The motion is backed by farmers associations and environmental groups. Among other things, they want the government to press the EU into forcing producers who use wood chips to say so clearly on the bottle. Accepting this regulation would be a betrayal of our wines identity, said Roberto Della Seta, president of the Legambiente environmental association. It would lead to the standardization of wines at the lowest level to the detriment of the consumer.

Over the last 20 years, Italian producers have reaped the rewards of concentrating on quality and making the most of the countrys time-honoured wine-making traditions. As a result, Italy became the worlds top wine exporter last year in terms of volume. Italian wine sales recently overtook French sales in the US wine market too. There must be common resolve from farmers, the industry and all the parties in-volved to combat a measure that will have massive consequences for Italian products, said the Italian Confederation of Farmers (CIA). The EU regulation is a threat to our traditions and the bond our products have with the places they are made. Experts are concerned that con-sumer confusion over artificially aged wines could hit Italys booming wine-tourism industry as well.

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