Brouhaha over Italian bubbles

The controversial director of Italy’s leading state-owned television broadcaster RAI Uno, Fabrizio del Noce, raised eyebrows on December 31, 2008, when he rang in the new year with a bottle of Dom Perignon on live television. (Click here for the YouTube video.)

In an editorial entitled “Del Noce’s Toast is Hurtful to Italy,” published on January 7, 2008, Alberto Lupini, director of Italia a Tavola, has publicly called for Del Noce to “apologize to Italians.”

“It seemed unreal,” wrote Lupini, “that once again [Del Noce] has shown his total thoughtlessness by giving a helping hand to our French cousins by popping open a bottle of Dom Perignon on New Year’s Eve on live television…” In Italy, sales of Champagne have dropped, he noted however, as the export of Italian sparkling wine has “surpassed consumption at home” for the first time.

In an act of largess, Maurizio Zanella — owner of Ca’ del Bosco (Lombardy), one of Italy’s top producers of Champagne-method wines — published an editorial (posted at Vino al Vino) this week asking Italian food and wine writers and pundits to tone down their “triumphalist” attitudes. Sales figures from 2008 have yet to be reported, he observed, adding that “irresponsibility” and “disinformation” lie behind “such a superficial claim” that Italy is overtaking France in terms of sparkling wine sales.

Italian sparkling wine, he wrote, “will enjoy great opportunity for growth,” thanks in part to its diversity. “But no one can seriously think that we can shake Champagne” from its position as the leading producer of sparkling wine.

“I hope that news organizations will report correct information,” he concluded, “that the director of the leading channel and most important news corporation will abstain from toasting with the Abbot’s wine on New Year’s Eve, and that he will choose a great Italian bottle.”

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