Italian Wine – Protecting Quality
Coldiretti and Confagricoltura, two Italian agricultural producer associations, are organizing to promote legislation against the European Union’s law allowing wine producers to add wood chips to wine during the aging process. International wine associations and rating agencies have already declared that European wines will be eliminated from the prestigious “pure wine” directories. Italian media institutions have also changed their rules to eliminate coverage of any producers using this process and the wine trail associations will be removing from their international wine country tours companies that do not adhere to traditional processes. The Italian winemaker association believes this law was passed to eliminate Italy’s dominance of the quality wine market.
Italy has the most stringent laws in the world regulating the production of wine. Beverages that in other countries may be called wine in Italy have different names and labels and may not indicate in any way that they are wine or a by-product. The end product is not the only part of the product that is controlled. The area where the grapes are grown, the variety of grape, the way the grapes are harvested, the process transforming the grapes to wine, the materials used in the fermentation process, and the way the wine is aged are all regulated. Deviate from the norms and you may have a great product but it cannot be called by the same name as traditional products.
This attention has protected the quality of Italian wines over years even when large international companies would have preferred to change something so they could spend less money producing an inferior product but sell it with an established name. The proponents of Cowboy Capitalism would say it is “... all good. If the consumer does not like the product they will not buy it.” The downside is that while the consumer is realizing the difference, the true quality producers are forced out of business by the unscrupulous practices of these corporation trying to make a quick buck.
Cowboy capitalism has recently won an important battle designed to break the smaller quality producers. The European Union has passed a modification to the law defining wine as proposed by large multinational producers. If the producers have their way the next step will be to liquefy the wood and pour it directly in wine during the fermentation phase so they can harvest, bottle and get on the shelves in 15 days.
One of the biggest criticism of Italy, and the rest of Europe, by the very vocal proponents of Cowboy Capitalism is that big business is often met and fought by the consumer, employee, and small-businessman. The socialist concept of “We the people”, normal people off the street, organizing and able to fight big business interests is unacceptable. This is the case in this particular situation. Coldiretti and Confagricoltura are organizations of agricultural producers. They have banned together with consumer protection organizations to effectively eliminate these bastardized products from the Italian market.
Additional information regarding these events and ongoing developments may be found at Aristide, and Italian language site dealing with Italian wine and producers.
Tags: Red Wine Italian Wine Sommelier Food and Wine Travel Italy