Agricultural minister Zaia on “zero tolerance” legal limit: “Italian vineyards are under attack”

“Italian vineyards are under attack,” said Italian agricultural minister Luca Zaia with his trademark dramatic flair at the Forum Spumanti d’Italia conference held over the weekend in Valdobbiadene. His bold statement was made in reference to his recently launched campaign to revise Italy’s “zero tolerance” drunk driving laws. Currently, “0.2 grams per liter of blood” is the legal limit, making the consumption of even one glass of wine illegal before driving. In an interview published in Italy’s leading consumer automotive magazine, Quattro Ruote, Zaia recently proposed that it should be raised to 0.5 grams so that drivers will be allowed to have 2 glasses of wine as long as the alcohol content of the wine does not exceed 11%, in other words, as minister Zaia put it, as long as drivers are not consuming “structured” wines. “I am personally committed to sharing a principle of truth with public opinion,” said Zaia. “Wine’s responsibility in automobile accidents is truly residual.”

Minister Zaia also announced that he and possibly foreign minister Franco Frattini will meet in Rome on September 23 with Zaia’s French counterpart “to discuss an axis that we wish to consolidate on the subject of farm and food products.” Agricultural relations between the two countries are good, said Zaia, “but we have no intention of copying their recent provision that reduces production levels of Champagne because they have fallen by 44%. Our sparkling wines are actually growing.”

According to Zaia, the export of Italian sparkling wine grew by 14% in 2008 while the importation of sparkling wine to Italy “diminished remarkably,” in his words. “This means that Italians prefer Spumante [wines] and Prosecco over their French cousin Champagne.”


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