Italy fumes over relaxation of name protection

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  • Wednesday 4 February 2004

Italy’s wine world is up in arms over an EU amendment which could pave the way for Argentinian Brunello, New Zealand Morellino and South African Amarone.

One senior official said the EU was kowtowing to the World Trade Organisation, which has accused the EU of protectionism.

The amendment was voted in on 29 January, after EU members out-voted member countries including France, Greece, Italy and Portugal.

Community Regulation no 753/2003 of 1 August 2003 (protecting wine denominations) is now amended to permit the widespread use of over 100 territorial viticultural names.

Italian names which can now be used worldwide include Amarone, Canellino, Brunello, Falerno, Gutturnio, Governo Toscano, Lacryma Cristi, Lambiccato, Vino Nobile, Vin Santo and many others.

According to Giuseppe Martelli, President of Assenologi (the association of oenologists), the decision is detrimental to those ‘old European’ countries which have always fought to defend their culture and traditions.

‘The proposal is a response to WTO’s accusation of EU’s protectionism,’ said Martelli. ‘The situation is very serious. We risk losing our cultural and territorial heritage by falling right into the hands of wine-pirates. Non-EU countries will legally be able to sell Brunello from Argentina, Amarone from South Africa, Morellino from New Zealand, Recioto from Australia or whatever takes their fancy.’

A raft of producer and technical associations including Unione Italiana Vini and Assenologi have convened a meeting at the Ministry of Agriculture on 5 February to contest the regulation, which is scheduled to pass within the next three weeks.

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