Italian agriculture ministry extends government monitoring of Brunello

In a post published today on the ministry’s website, Italian agriculture minister Luca Zaia has announced that the Italian government’s monitoring of Brunello di Montalcino will be extended until June 30, 2010. The original decree calling for government intervention in the monitoring of the appellation, signed in July 2008 in the wake of an adulteration scandal, had already been extended but was set to expire on December 31, 2009.

While the minister made no mention of his October meeting with U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Tax, and Trade Bureau officials in Washington and the subsequent confusion created by dueling press releases, the extension, said Zaia in his statement, “represents yet another guarantee in the monitoring of quality in our products and in the perception of a historic wine with ancient traditions.”

With the approval of the extension, the Italian government’s Ispettorato centrale per il controllo della qualità dei prodotti agroalimentari (Central Inspectorate for the Monitoring of Food and Farm Products, a department within the ministry) will continue to test Brunello di Montalcino and will provide producers with certification letters (which continue to be required by the U.S. Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) for the next 6 months.

Although details of an over-arching reform of monitoring systems have not yet been made public by the ministry, Zaia has revealed that local producers associations will be permanently relieved of monitoring duties when the reforms take effect. Until the July 2008 decree, monitoring of authenticity was conducted by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino (Brunello Producers Association).

“The new law,” said Zaia in a recent statement, “offers historic innovation: a third party will evaluate the quality of the wines — not the consortia anymore. If such a provision had previously been put into place, cases like Brunello di Montalcino would not have happened.”

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