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.