Soylent Merlot: the Montalcino Syndrome infects Calabria

It’s the year 2010… People are still the same. They’ll do anything to get what they need. And they need MERLOT.

I couldn’t help but think of the classic horror movie Soylent Green (1973) when a desperate plea appeared in my feed this morning.

Yesterday, the authors of the blog In Difesa dell’Identità del Vino Cirò (In Defense of the Identity of Cirò) posted an open letter to the Italian Association of Enologists* asking them to examine the absurdity of what’s happening on the ground in their appellation in Cirò and Cirò Marina, Calabria (the letter was reposted today by one of Italy’s top wine blogs Esalazioni Etiliche and Mr. Franco Ziliani and I posted about it at VinoWire today as well).

Essentially, this is what has happened… Back in the summer of 2009, before EU reforms came into effect, a relatively small group of commercial producers in Cirò got together and rewrote appellation regulations to allow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot for the first time in Cirò. Calling themselves the “Consortium of Cirò producers,” they submitted their changes to the Italian government, even though their group did not include the flagship producer Librandi, nor the majority of Cirò producers. As a result, today, the EU is considering said change in the appellation even though it was proposed by a minority of greedy, commercial producers.

Mr. Franco Ziliani said it best when he first posted on what was happening there back in June 2009, calling it the “Montalcino Syndrome.” The parallels are crystal clear: a small group of large, industrial wine producers are lobbying (successfully) to eclipse their smaller competitors who not only play by the rules but actually care about the people, place, and grapes that go into their wines. (Remember what Baldo said in the Brunello debate in October 2008? Italian appellation regulations are intended to protect the territory, not the consumer.)

It’s unlikely that the blog and accompanying petition will stop the changes from being approved by Brussels. As a result of the amendment, commercial producers will pump up their Gaglioppo with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (easier and cheaper to grow) and the wines… well, we already know what the wines will taste like… Soylent Green, anyone?

Here in Texas, btw, we eat Soylent Greens accompanied by Charro beans and hot sauce.

*I’m not linking to the Association website because it requires that you download the latest version of Flash to view it.