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Published:  23 July, 2008

By David Williams

The Italian Trade Commission (ICE) came under fire last week for not providing enough support for Italian wine in the UK. The criticism was voiced by several members of the panel and the audience at the Definitive Italian Wine Seminar, at Shakespeare's Globe. ICE has been to Italian wine what Railtrack has been to the UK,' said David Gleave MW, of Liberty Wines. There has been no concerted generic campaign and there has been a total lack of funds and political will from Rome. We need more. Much, much more.' Any success that Italy has had has been down to retailers and pro-active agents,' added Julian Dyer, Italian buyer at Sainsbury's. There has been no co-ordinated Italian campaign. Italy desperately needs a Sopexa or an Australian Wine Bureau targeting consumers and the press, and supporting us retailers in our promotions.' Rodolfo Cortellini, director of ICE, defended his organisation, however, saying, This year, the national budget [has been] increased, and although the regions get a good part of the budget, it is our hope to do more generically.' He was backed up by Pierpaolo Petrassi, chairman of the Italian Wines Committee of the WSA and commercial manager of Italvini, who reminded the audience that, while something on a generic level is needed, it is important to remember that wine is not ICE's core role. We shouldn't use it as a scapegoat.' Other major concerns raised by the retailers, restaurateurs, distributors, suppliers and journalists attending the event included Italy's lack of a branded presence, and its inability to meet the needs of the mid-price consumer. We need to find more premium producers who are willing to sell to supermarkets,' said Angela Mount MW, head wine buyer for Somerfield. Too many producers in Italy seem to be using sales-prevention tactics, confusing the consumer,' added Lindsay Talas, product development manager at Tesco.