Italy’s quality and anti-fraud agency under the Ministry of Agriculture has called for wine merchants in the UK to block the selling of Australian wines bearing the name of the variety Nero d’Avola on their wine labels, the latest protest from Italy against Australia following the contentious wrangling over the use of ‘Prosecco’ on Australian sparkling wines.
The government body, Ispettorato Centrale Qualità e Repressione Frodi dei Prodotti Agroalimentari (ICQRF), claims that based several UK merchants have promoted Australian Nero d’Avola on their sites in a way that could be misleading.
The ICQRF alleges that by using words such as ‘Sicily’ and ‘Sicilian’ in the wines’ marketing, the Australian wineries and UK merchants are deliberately misleading consumers and the UK, as a member of the EU, should protect the PDO, especially when Sicilian wines are becoming increasingly popular.
WIne bottled under the Sicilia DOC label in the first six months of the year grew by 144% over the same period in 2017, according to Antonio Rallo, president of Sicilia DOC Consorzio.
“This success makes the risk of an improper use of our denomination become higher,” he states. In Sicily, only red wines made using at least 85% Nero d’Avola can be labelled as a Sicilia DOC.
Australia has increasingly been planting Italian indigenous varieties such as Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Nero d’Avola, with the latter mainly grown in regions such as McLaren Vale.
The grape’s name is controversial because technically it involves a geographic indication. Australia is currently negotiating a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the EU, and all GIs are protected under EU laws.
Previously, Italy has protested the use of Prosecco on Australian wine labels as it argues that Prosecco refers to a geographical indication rather than a grape. It was not until 2009 that Italy changed the name of the grape used for sparkling wine production from Prosecco to Glera.