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Italian screwcap decree is a 'crass compromise', says expert

Published:  30 October, 2012

The Italian Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to relax laws on wines allowed to be bottled under screwcap, but renowned expert David Gleave MW of Liberty says it hasn't gone far enough.


A new decree was drafted in August 2012, allowing all DOCG wines, apart from those with the name of a sub zone on the label, or the name of a vineyard, to use alternative closures such as screwcap or synthetic corks. However Gleave, the managing director of Liberty Wines, says it hasn't gone far enough and called it a "crass compromise".


The amendment came on the back of a letter originally sent in 2006 by Gleave, stating that producers should be allowed to decide which closure was best suited to their wines and their market. He made the point that the previous ministerial decree of July 1993, which banned the use of anything other than natural cork on DOCG wines, was outmoded.

He said: "As from early next year, we expect to start shipping a Soave Classico under screwcap. But here is the rub. We can ship both a Soave Classico and a Soave Superiore DOCG under screwcap, but not a Soave Classico Superiore DOCG. This latter wine needs to be sealed with cork.


"Such a crass compromise does little to promote the image of Italy as a quality-focussed and innovative wine producing country, especially when we currently import Chablis Grand Cru, Chablis Premier Cru, Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru and other such European wines sealed under screwcap."


Liberty has been in touch with its producers to see which will be moving to screwcap. Once a majority of members of any consorzio vote in favour of a change, the amended law for that zone must be sent to Rome for approval.



Gleave added: "The decree has removed the obstacle previously placed in the way of those producers who wanted to use screwcaps, but does underline the fact that local consorzi must instigate any change."



According to Gleave producers in Chianti, Gavi and Barolo & Barbaresco Chianti, Gavi, Barolo and Barbaresco have applied to their consorzios to implement the change.


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