Having just returned from a wine tasting tour that took me to London and Cannes, I found myself in front of my beloved computer and among the many emails I found one that gave me pause. The sender was my dear friend, Enrico Zonin, owner of the wine company Tenuta il Palagio, and a person with tremendous experience in the field. In fact, together with his father, Gaetano, he contributed in a significant way to the creation of the Italian sales network of the Zonin wine house.
Here is the email:
I am writing to you as I will write to others, to try to stir up, even if just a little, the opinion of at least those of us working in the sector and serious producers.
It is not possible that on the one hand the legislature can drive us crazy with complicated labelling and extremely complicated accompanying informational documentation, while on the other it favours or at least tolerates activity that amounts to LEGALIZED FRAUD.
I am referring to the opportunity to list on the label the multiple grape varieties involved in the production of this or that wine denominated IGT (and now, also IGP?!? But who is using the denomination IGP?!? Was it truly necessary to bring this to the world of wine?!?).
The significance of the regulation is absolutely clear and legitimate: it gave the producer the ability to inform the consumer about the blend used to produce a particular wine.
There are very noble examples of classic Super Tuscans or Bordeaux blends that when produced with different mixes of grapes lead to diverse tastes and olfactory sensations.
Up to this point everything is clear and there are no objections. But if no authority places a limit on the minimum quantity necessary for reporting the name of a grape variety on a label (and from what I have seen the authorities that do this are few and far between!), we arrive at the limit case of a blend comprising 99.99% of grape variety X and only one litre of grape variety Y, yet both are legitimately reported on the label.
From the economic point of view, selling a Garganega-Pinot Grigio that is 99.9% Garganega is a little more “convenient” that a 60-40 blend. But the scandalous thing, setting aside the economic aspect for the moment, is the information that is provided to the consumer: How one call a wine Garganega-Pinot Grigio when it has no Pinot Grigio in it? And report it clearly on the label? It is this aspect that disturbs me more than anything else.
But shouldn’t Fraud Prevention try to protect the consumer? Why get worked up searching for a bit of straw on a label, so to speak, when in some cases there are entire wood beams?
What is more serious and misleading for a consumer, an incomplete label or one that “legally” lists a grape variety that is perhaps present in an amount so infinitesimal as to not serve to characterize the wine in the slightest?
Are we certain that this is how to protect the consumer and how to emblazon the Made in Italy image all over the world?
Let’s unite and try to change this misleading legislation as quickly as possible.