Guest Opinion: two winemakers (an American and an Italian) reflect on recent events in Montalcino

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Craig Camp, Oregon winemaker and author of one of the most respected wine blogs in the U.S., recently posted the following editorial on the fallout of the Brunello controversy:

    The recent “scandal” in Brunello di Montalcino has forced the Italian government to guarantee that all Brunello wines hitting the American shore are made from Sangiovese and Sangiovese alone. Funny, I thought that’s what the DOCG did.

    The hypocrisy of the TTB in such matters is truly sad. Under the guise of consumer protection, the TTB continues to make the American market a mess with reams of confusing and contradictory regulations. Their wasting time on a matter the Italians were clearing handling on their own only shows how out of touch with the world of wine they are. Anyway, anyone who has gotten a look at the true majesty of Italian bureaucracy, which may be the most complex and convoluted in the world, would realize that the piling on of an American bureaucracy was redundant at best.

Italian winemaker Gianpaolo Paglia of Poggio Argentiera (Tuscany) recently weighed in with the following observations on proposed “deregulation” of the Brunello DOCG:

    Does deregulation mean no rules? Not to me. Does deregulation mean to remove all the obstacles that make the wine industry a fenced garden where the notion of free market is often unknown? I agree with this.

    Wine industry, as well as the rest of agriculture in EU and USA, is regulated in order to avoid the excess of product and not to push up quality. That is because agriculture is heavily subsidized (50 Billion Euros is the yearly budget for EU for agricolture), so that the excess is taken out of the market at taxpayer expenses. The transformation of wine in alcohol alone absorbs 400-500 Million euros per year in EU. That is not only costly, but also has been proven to be ineffective. Let the farmers decide what to grow (not possible today, especially for wine) and stop wasting money in politics that are ineffective and reduce the free market at taxpayers and consumers expenses.

    Let’s invest more money in the quality of products, even implementing and enforcing more sophisticated control procedures and techniques.

    That’s what I call deregulation.

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