Italy protests Australian ‘Nero d’Avola’ in the UK

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.

Nero d’Avola

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.

7 Responses to “Italy protests Australian ‘Nero d’Avola’ in the UK”

  1. Andrew Chalk says:

    The ICQRF will lose this. You can’t monopolize a grape name, that was why (other) Italians changed the name of Prosecco to Glera.

    Cabernet Sauvignon next?

    • Stefano Quattrini says:

      Read before commenting; it’s not (or not only) a grape name issue; it’s related to the fact that the wine is promoted as a Sicily/Sicilian product while it’s made somewhere else.

  2. Ray Krause says:

    Simple for the Aussies to just use a lower case “a” on Avola thus rendering it not a proper noun and, therefore, not a place name.

  3. Michael Locke says:

    Copy Cats – why not be a bit innovative and creative ? Typical Stealing others success – not nice!!!

    • John McGeehan says:

      Australia has ZERO native grape vine species, so what are you expecting? They settled things amicably with the French, German, Spanish and Portuguese in the 1990s with generic wine names vs varietals after all….

  4. I think Andres and Ray are missing the point. I am sure it is not Nero d’Avola the Aussies are objecting to. We make wines with the same grape in India too, without any problem. It’s their cleverness of linking the grape with the Sicilian wines for marketing. Sicilian wines are finally getting popular and getting their due share in the world market and Sicilians are objecting to this and they have a point there. Of course, Italians would do better to go to the court in Australia, raising this point than telling another Sovereign country not to sell these wines. They have lost the Prosecco case in Australian court, incidentally but have not given it up yet.

  5. John McGeehan says:

    I don’t see the Alsatians kicking off about Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer or Riesling used in new world countries, so the Italians ought not to either about Nero d’Avola either- after all, these are all grape varietals and nothing more. They’ve got bugger all to worry about anyway- their Sicilian stuff is miles better than most of what the Aussies make because they have two key things the Aussies don’t: volcanic soil and considerably more competitive pricing. The Italians did the right thing in protecting “Prosecco” (Australia’s King Valley is knocking out some excellent versions right now) but this latest objection is just petty.

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