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US lifts government certification requirement for Brunello

The U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax, and Trade Bureau (TTB) will no longer require Italian government certification for imports of Brunello di Montalcino to the U.S., Italy’s agriculture ministry has announced.

A statement was published shortly after Italy’s agriculture minister Luca Zaia met with TTB administrator John Manfreda in Washington D.C. last week.

The previous requirement for government certification was announced by U.S. authorities on 17 June 2008, in the wake of allegations that producers of Brunello di Montalcino had adulterated their wines by adding unauthorised grape varieties.

‘I have obtained the definitive go-ahead for the importation of Brunello di Montalcino to the U.S.,’ said minister Zaia in the statement.

‘The case is now definitively closed.’

According to existing appellation regulations, Brunello di Montalcino must be produced using 100% Sangiovese grapes grown in Montalcino.

Although no arrests or indictments have been made by Italian authorities during the “Operation Mixed Wine” investigation, treasury department officials reported in July 2009 that 20% of the 6.7 million litres impounded in the inquiry was declassified from Brunello di Montalcino DOCG to Toscana Rosso IGT.

Brunello is ‘one of the wine ambassadors of ‘Made in Italy’ products,’ Zaia said, and is now ‘assured its presence in the American market.’

The meeting between minister Zaia and TTB head Manfreda was part of Zaia’s week-long tour of the U.S. promoting authentic ‘Made in Italy’ agricultural products.

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Written by Jeremy Parzen and Franco Ziliani

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