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Letters: Generalisations don't work

Published:  18 January, 2007

I am writing to address some of the inaccuracies contained in your news article Italian grape prices collapse' (Harpers, 14 October, p.3). The fall in grape prices is not unifying', as the article stated. As always in Italy, generalisations soon come unstuck when you look deeper into such a varied wine industry.

In the northeast, for example, Pinot Grigio prices were low prior to the vintage. Once producers became aware of the short crop, prices rose to the same level as last year. In Valpolicella, prices are higher than they were last year. In both cases, this is due to a low crop (the Veneto is predicted to have produced 30% less in 2005 than last year).

The price quoted for Chianti grapes is for low- to medium-quality grapes. For quality grapes, Cantine Leonardo is paying its growers at least 30% more than this in order to maintain the high level of quality it has established for its wines. Similarly, Mark Shannon of A Mano in southern Puglia is paying only about 5% less for his Primitivo grapes in 2005, but 25% higher than the price quoted in your article. As Mark says: 'You get what you pay for!'

I could cite many more examples to counter the sensationalist claims in your article, for all the Liberty Wines' producers who saw this article were quick to point out its inaccuracies. As we will see when the wines start to arrive in the UK, there will be a great variation in quality this year, and those people who have looked after their vineyards, or paid higher prices for the best grapes, will stand out from the crowd.

David Gleave MW

MD, Liberty Wines