Dante Scaglione to return to Bruno Giacosa

According to report posted today on his blog by VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani, legendary Langa producer Bruno Giacosa has confirmed rumors that his long-time enologist Dante Scaglione (above, left, with Bruna and Bruno Giacosa) will return to the winery and resume working with the great Nebbiolo maestro again.

More than 3 years after Scaglione’s abrupt and unexplained departure from the winery where he had worked side-by-side with Giacosa for sixteen years, the news of his return is sure to be received by observers of the Italian wine industry with jubilation.

Scaglione’s unexpected departure was the subject of intense speculation and scrutiny and many feared that the Bruno Giacosa legacy would be abandoned by his heirs.

Editorial: EU green harvest subsidies are misguided

Last month, the Regione Toscana (Tuscan Regional Authority) announced that, using EU subsidies, it will pay Chianti and Chianti Classico producers Euro 3,200 for every hectare of “green harvested” vines.

I am well aware that, according to EU legislation, “green harvesting means the total destruction or removal of grape bunches while still in their immature stage, thereby reducing the yield of the relevant area to zero.”

I am also aware that “support for green harvesting shall contribute to restoring the balance of supply and demand in the market in wine in the Community in order to prevent market crises” [the final phase of EU Common Market Organisation reforms that include voluntary grubbing-up incentives to be distributed to and applied by EU members at their discretion, subsidies intended to reduce the number of vineyards that may have never produced wines but were planted rather to reap distillation subsidies in years of reckless EU promotion of growth].

Frankly, I just can’t understand this means of regulation and “balancing” production to aid producers during the market crisis. Honestly, I find it hard to swallow.

In my view, such regulation seems more suited to industries like iron and steel or car manufacturing — not for such a wondrous thing as wine.

Perhaps I’m a stubborn old enophilic Don Quixote who views wine romantically, as an expression of the earth, a modality of rustic knowledge, and the fruit of artisan culture. It is not a simple product that can be financed and manufactured when the market is “up” and then discarded when things get difficult.

Strange things have been happening in the world of wine today.

—Franco Ziliani

Common Market Organisation reforms and how they affect the Italian DOC system

As the EU reform of viticulture, winemaking practices, appellation regulations, distillation, and grubbing-up policies enters its final stages (2011 is the third and last year of the Common Market Organisation Reform that went into effect in 2008), the editors of VinoWire invite you to consult the English-language version of the EU legislation.

In particular, the text of Regulation (EC) 479/2008 should help to clarify the new system of EU regulation of PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) wines (see Title III, Chapter III, “Designations of origin, geographical indications and traditional terms”).

In recent months, the Comitato Nazionale Vini (Italy’s National Wine Commission) has ratified the creation and modification of a number of DOCs and DOCGs. Many of these are the result of a frantic rush to apply for protected status before the EU overarching reform of appellation regulation came into effect in 2009. (The deadline for application was extended until August 2009 and you may remember VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani’s editorial “Eurobureaucrats, please block the growth of DOCs before we lose count!”)

Most recently, the Italian agriculture ministry announced the creation of a handful of new DOCs and DOCGs and it remains unclear how many new appellations and modifications will be ratified in the wake of the 2009 tsunami of applications.

Editorial: The Letter G Is No Magic Wand

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.

—Franco Ziliani

Agriculture ministry announces DOC and DOCG changes

Posted April 21 on the Italian Agriculture Ministry website.

Veneto: Creation of a spumante category within the Gambellara DOC.

Sicily: Producers of Etna DOC will now be allowed to include riserva on the labels of their red wines as well as their sparkling whites and rosés.

Latium: Creation of two new DOCGs, Frascati Superiore and Cannellino di Frascati; two new categories for the Frascati DOC, Superiore and Cannellino; a new Roma DOC which will include seven categories.

Campania: Five subzones in the Province of Benevento have been recognized within the Sannio DOC; creation of the Falanghina del Sannio DOC.

Tuscany: New DOCG for Montecucco Sangiovese, an appellation recognized within the current Montecucco DOC in the province of Grosseto; creation of Montecucco Vin Santo DOC within the Montecucco DOC; creation of a Maremma Toscana DOC incorporating certain wines made currently as IGT.