Encouraging growth for Italian wine exports

According to a report posted by the Italian-language wine industry blog, I Numeri del Vino (Wine Statistics), Italian wine exports increased by 18% in August 2010, one of the most challenging months for Italian winemakers, note the authors. Total sales were Euro 241 million, surpassing even Italy’s record for wine exports in the month of August, when Euro 236 million worth of wine were shipped in 2007. Every category saw growth, with sparkling wine delivering a 39% increase, bulk wine 13%, and bottled wine 16%.

Overall exports have increased by 8.7% in the first 8 months of 2010, with 5.4% growth over the last 12 months. If the trend continues, write the authors, total growth for 2010 could reach 8% and sales could exceed Euro 3.7 billion, a figure that would represent a new historical record.

Reported by VinoWire editors Franco Ziliani via the Italian Sommelier Association website.

8th DOCG for Tuscany

VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani is currently in Apulia where he and a group of wine writers and members of the trade are attending the Radici festival of indigenous Apulian wines.

Good news for a magical and absolutely special place, the Tuscan island of Elba.

Elba’s most emblematic and symbolic wine, Elba Aleatico Passito, has been slated to become the eighth Tuscan DOCG in a matter of days. It will be labeled as both Elba Aleatico Passito and Aleatico Passito dell’Elba. During a public hearing attended by twenty or so Elba producers the second week of November in Castagneto Carducci, the new DOCG appellation regulations were approved. Swift ratification by the DOC Committee in Rome was expected.

The new DOCG represents recognition for viticultural practices that have been employed since the Etruscan era. They flourished during the middle ages, when wine was transported through Pisa to all parts of Tuscany. Granduca Leopoldo di Lorena began to regulate the sale of wines through Portoferraio, the island’s largest town and harbor, and during the 19th and 20th centuries, viticulture was a great resource for the island’s economy, with nearly a fourth of the island’s entire surface area planted to vine.

Today, there are 250 hectares planted to vine on the island, with roughly 160 hectares authorized for production of DOC wines. With the tourist boom of the post-war era, Elba’s viticulture experienced a dramatic decline and the surface area planted to vine decreased sharply. This trend has been reversed in recent years and both the quantity and quality of wines produced there has grown.

Aleatico dell’Elba Passito, made from Aleatico grapes dried for at least 10 days, is the island’s viticultural gem, as my recent tasting of roughly 60 Elba wines, including a dozen bottlings made from Aleatico, revealed.

—Franco Ziliani

Franco Ziliani launches new blog devoted to Italian sparkling wines

Leading Italian wine writer and co-editor of VinoWire Franco Ziliani has launched a new blog devoted to the world of Italian sparkling wines.

Le Mille Bolle (A Thousand Bubbles) is sure to be embraced by the wine writing and blogging community as an invaluable resource for information on Italy’s many sparkling wine appellations.

Cirò producers use social media to battle internationalization

In June 2009, VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani was among the first Italian wine writers to bring attention to a blog and virtual petition created by Calabrian producers of Cirò, In Difesa dell’Identità del Vino Cirò, “in the defense of the identity of Cirò.”

The authors of the blog and petition launched their campaign nearly 18 months ago after the appellation’s producers association, the Consorzio Vini Cirò e Melissa, approved modifications to appellation regulations that would allow for the use of international grape varieties, viz. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. According to the blog’s authors, the Consorzio approved the changes without calling an appellation-wide vote when the amendments were “deliberated” in June 2009. (According to the Consorzio’s website, the body consists of only 27 member producers and does not include the appellation’s flagship producer Librandi.)

Local consortia have always had the right to propose changes to the Italian government’s committee for DO [DOC and DOCG] and IGT oversight, the Comitato Nazionale per la Tutela e la Valorizzazione delle Denominazioni di Origine e delle Indicazioni Geografiche Tipiche dei Vini (National Committee for the Oversight and Promotion of Appellations of Origin and Geographic Classification Designations).

When the EU’s Common Market Organisation reforms were implemented in the summer of 2010, the National Committee essentially became a rubber-stamper: the power to approve appellation regulation changes now lies with EU bureaucrats in Brussels.

The National Committe’s role was diminished again when recent legislation, the so-called “riforma” or amendment of law 164/92 (passed by the Italian Parliament in March 2010 and signed into law in April 2010), gave broader power to local consortia to change and monitor appellation regulations.

Yesterday, the authors of the In Difesa blog posted an open letter to the Italian Association of Enologists in which it points to the “surreal” nature of the Consortium’s move to “internationalize” the Cirò appellation without consulting the majority of growers and bottlers.

Today, the letter was reposted by one of Italy’s most popular wine blogs, Esalazioni Etiliche.

Carema: a truly moving vertical

For the Italian version of this post, click here.

A truly moving vertical of the least Piedmontese of the Piedmontese wines, Carema DOC, produced in a territory governed by Piedmont but belonging to the Valle d’Aosta and to the heroic winemakers who grow grapes in this mountainous terrain.

Recent vintages tasted at the Cantina dei Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema, founded in 1960 and now 50 years old: 2006, 2005, 2003, and 2000, as well as a few older vintages, like the basic “black label” riserva, not to mention the “white label” riserva, like the 1990 and the miraculous 1985.

A truly moving tasting, held in the winery’s cellar on October 18, yet another example of the wonders that Nebbiolo can deliver, even in this mountainous terroir, where identity tends to be a bit blurred.

And for the patient among you who would like to cellar these bottlings of 100% Nebbiolo grown in the terraced vineyards of these precipitous, rocky cliffs, you will find more-than-honest prices: Euro 7.50 for the 2006 basic “black label” and Euro 8.90 for the 2006 riserva “white label” (which will hit the market in mid-November).

Cantina dei Produttori Nebbiolo di Carema Società Cooperativa
via Nazionale 32 Carema TO
tel. 0125 811160 or 0125 362248
e-mail cantinaproduttori@caremadoc.it

—Franco Ziliani