Italian Agriculture Minister extends Brunello monitoring and certification

According to reports posted by various Italian wine trade news services, a decree signed into law June 5, 2009 by Italy’s agriculture minister Luca Zaia will extend monitoring of Brunello di Montalcino by the Italian government’s ICQ (Central Quality Inspectorate) until December 31, 2009. On July 3, 2008, Zaia signed a decree that made the ICQ the Italian government’s official oversight body for the appellation, which had been the subject of an investigation spearheaded by the office of the Siena prosecutor. (The Siena magistrate had alleged that a small number of producers had adulterated their 2003 Brunello di Montalcino. No formal charges have been made in the investigation, although a significant amount of wine has been declassified by Brunello producers.) The ICQ’s official role was to end on July 3, 2009. In July 2008, following an agreement with U.S. Customs officials that allowed Brunello to be imported to the U.S. if accompanied by Italian government certification, Zaia instructed the ICQ to test and certify samples of Brunello submitted by producers and to issue certification of its conformity to appellation regulations (producers were accused of using grapes other than Sangiovese in the wine; appellation regulations require that it be made using 100% Sangiovese grapes). “The extension was necessary,” said Zaia according to the reports, “because, thanks to specific quality control procedures overseen by the Inspectorate for the monitoring of agricultural food products, we have been able to avoid the indiscriminate blockade of Brunello imports by U.S. customs authorities. The extension will allow us to maintain the flow of exports of this prestigious product and it will restore faith in Italy’s monitoring system.”


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