On April 21, the Italy’s Agriculture Ministry announced the creation of two new DOCGs, Frascati Superiore and Cannellino di Frascati.
Is it really true that in the strange, loved and hated, controversial country that Italy has become, we tend to forget everything? That we act like nothing has happened? Perhaps we are convinced that everyone else is as forgetful as we and that memory is optional and inconsequential.
Our forgetfulness is a synonym for superficiality and a symptom of a gradual trivialization of certain things that will ultimately lose all meaning. You can find such forgetfulness in the world of wine — it’s to be expected, of course — where we tend nonchalantly to say the opposite of what was said the day before and where we take positions entirely lacking coherence and contradictory in the general disinterest of concerned parties.
Do you remember the case of the Frascati DOC? This appellation’s consortium was created in 1949 and it was one of the first appellations to receive DOC status (in 1966).
The Frascati DOC has always stood apart from the other appellations south of Rome. It’s always helped the other DOCs but allowing them to ride on its coattails. Any gains made by Frascati have been followed by gains for the other local appellations, even though the Frascati DOC is made up of 800 grape growers who span 1,400 hectares of surface area and who produce 150,000 quintals of grapes destined to become 110,000 hectolitres of wine vinified by roughly 30 winemakers and bottled by roughly 40 bottlers.
Just over a year ago, we spoke — in dramatic terms — of a perilous “production and sales crisis,” an issue that stemmed in part from the fact that the wines were bottled in northern Italy outside the production zone. When the crisis came to the attention of Italy’s agricultural minister, the Italian government applied for “emergency distillation” for Frascati [whereby producers are allowed to distill unsold wines into industrial-grade alcohol to be purchased by the EU].
It wasn’t long ago, in fact, that the regional coordinator for [wine guide] Città del Vino in Latium, Tommaso Mascherucci, called Frascati “a DOC in danger,” and he remembered the many missed opportunities in recent years “to take off.” He blamed the “destructive politics of the Frascati cooperatives.”
When faced with such a state of things, one would naturally try to resolve the problems threatening the appellation’s survival. Before taking any steps forward, the obvious move would be first to tighten every link in the chain of supply. But what happened instead?
The producers of Latium’s most famous appellation have instead expressed their belief in fairytales. Eleven years into the twenty-first century, they believe that the wave of a magic wand will magically cause all of their problems to disappear. And they believe that they have cast a powerful spell by adding the letter G to their simple DOC.