And so it would seem that the Italian government has finally stopped handing out DOCGs to any and all who wish to participate in the age-old game of political spoils. But the news that Italian National Wine Committee has ended its despicable practice comes after scores and scores of wines have received the accolade while legions of other more deserving wines have been ignored and omitted.
Over the weekend, my writing partner in VinoWire, top Italian wine writer and blogger Franco Ziliani, and I posted an English translation of his editorial on the final nail in the coffin of the Italian DOC/G system.
And not only did Alfonso post an updated list of current DOCGs but he also wrote a stirring, lyrical, and unforgettable post about the five Italian regions that will never attain a DOCG, despite the nobility of their wines (this is a must-read post, truly brilliant).
The power to create new denominations has now passed from Rome to Brussels but the reform allowed a “grandfathering” of previously decreed DOCGs. The crush of new DOCGs was the result of hundreds of wineries lobbying to attain the classification before the application deadline passed in 2009.
The Italian agricultural minister essentially rubber stamped every application.
To commemorate this momentous legislative landmark, Fedagri-Confcooperative (the Italian confederation of farmers and farming cooperatives) issued the following statement: “with these deliberations, the National Wine Committee has fulfilled its two-year task of reviewing and approving nearly 300 applications to change existing DOs [Protected Designations of Origin] and the accreditation of new IGTs, DOCs, and DOCGs.”
Never mind the fact that the Italian agriculture minister, Saverio Romano, (who oversees the committee and signs their recommendations into law) was appointed to his seat in the cabinet by Berlusconi so that he could avoid prosecution for organized crime association and corruption. (Over the course of his tenure, Berlusconi has shrewdly authored a series of laws that grant immunity to Italian politicians.)
And so with the baby and the bathwater: bureaucracy has skillfully annihilated any significance or impact that the DOCG system could have retained in a post-CMO-reform world.
As I prepare to head back to Italy for the European Wine Bloggers Conference (where Franco and I will both be speaking), it strikes me as one of the saddest forms of wine writing that I can imagine.