Italian Minister of Agriculture Paolo de Castro (pictured left) announced late last week that the Italian government would launch an investigation of coverage of the recent wine controversies by the Italian press.
“Over the last few weeks,” said De Castro in a prepared statement, “we have witnessed a violent attack on Made-in-Italy products and the efforts and commitment of the [Italian] government and [Italian] companies to affirm the quality of our products abroad… This is not the first time in this country that we have had to combat not only criminal adulteration but also fear disseminated by bad information. I’d like to think it is due to ignorance and a lack of conscientiousness rather than bad faith… Given the scope of the situation, the Ministry [of Agriculture] has asked its lawyers to verify whether or not there are grounds for legal action.”
De Castro also noted that “Italy has assured the European Commission [EEC] that the Taranto prosecutor’s investigation of [adulterated] wine has ruled out any health risks.”
The minister’s statement seems to contradict an order, signed April 4 by prosecutor Luca Buccheri in Taranto (Apulia), to sequester wines produced by two winemakers, VMC and Enoagri in Massafra (Apulia), after “acidic substances” and substances “foreign to winemaking” were discovered in the wine. According to the order, some of those substances were “highly dangerous to human health.”
The investigation of toxic substances found in wines produced by VMC and Enoagri was first reported in the April 10 issue of the magazine L’Espresso. The story was dubbed Velenitaly or PoisonItaly by the magazine’s editors.
Editor’s note: there is no relation whatsoever between the so-called Velenitaly controversy and the recent revelation that a small number of Brunello di Montalcino producers have been investigated for not following appellation regulations. Although hundreds of thousands of bottles of Brunello have been sequestered by Italian authorities, the reason for the seizure was the alleged presence of grapes other than Sangiovese and, in at least one case, yields allegedly too high for appellation regulations. Authorities have reported no health risks whatsoever in relation to Brunello.