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Friuli foiled by EC's latest Tocai ruling

Published:  23 July, 2008

The co-operative cantine of Friuli Venezia Giulia will bottle the whole of their Tocai Friulano' production before 31 March, and thus will commercialise their 2006 vintage wine under the name which they claim is theirs by right'.

The European Commission has rejected their plea for a continuing derogation, pending the definitive ruling by the European Court of Justice, of the earlier decision to revoke the right of anyone except Hungarians to use such wording as Tocai' or Tokay'. This is despite the virtual impossibility of anyone mistaking the pale, bone-dry wine of north-eastern Italy for the sweet amber liquid of the Magyars.

According to Noe Bertolin, president of the local association of co-operatives: The motivation for the decision of Brussels is based on the choice to proceed immediately with the adoption of the alternative name "Friulano" rather than to await the outcome of the pending appeal before the Court of Justice.

As we have clearly foreseen,' he added, such a choice is being read as a signal of capitulation. For us, the sole consolation is the decision on the part of the regional government of Lazio to suspend recognition of the name "Friulano" (on the grounds of it being too geographically broad for a grape variety).

In any case, we do not understand how it is possible to use a grape name which has not been inscribed in the official album of national varieties.'