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DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

Industry Circular

Number: 2010-3

Date: March 29, 2010

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Brunello di Montalcino Wine

To:   Importers, Wholesalers, and Others Concerned

  1. Purpose.

    This circular serves as notice that, effective immediately, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is no longer requiring importers of Brunello di Montalcino wine to obtain a declaration from the Government of Italy certifying that the product’s vintage date and brand name meet the requirements of the Brunello di Montalcino Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) and that the product is acceptable for sale as such in Italy.

  2. Authority.

    Section 105(e) of the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act), 27 U.S.C. 205(e), authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to prescribe regulations for the labeling of wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages.  The FAA Act requires that these regulations, among other things, prohibit consumer deception and the use of misleading statements on labels, and ensure that labels provide the consumer with adequate information as to the identity and quality of the product.  TTB administers the regulations promulgated under the FAA Act.

    Section 4.25 of the TTB regulations (27 CFR 4.25) regulates the use of appellations of origin on domestic and imported wine.  Under 27 CFR 4.25(b)(2)(ii) and (e)(3)(iii), wine imported into the United States which bears an appellation of origin on the label must conform to the requirements of the foreign laws and regulations governing the composition, method of production, and designation of wines available for consumption within the country of origin.

  3. Cancellation.

    This industry circular supersedes TTB Industry Circular 2008–2.

  4. Background.

    Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is a controlled appellation Italian wine that under Italian rules must be produced exclusively from Sangiovese grapes.  In 2008, TTB learned that some producers of Brunello di Montalcino wine had allegedly added other grape varieties into the 2003 through 2008 vintages of their wine.  Pursuant to 27 CFR 4.25(e)(3)(iii), wine imported into the United States and labeled with the appellation of origin “Brunello di Montalcino” must conform to the Italian requirement of 100% Sangiovese grapes.

    Consequently, in June 2008, TTB issued Industry Circular 2008–2 requiring all importers of Brunello di Montalcino wine to obtain a declaration from the Government of Italy certifying that the product’s vintage date and brand name meet the requirements of the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and that the product is acceptable for sale as such in Italy.  TTB instituted this requirement to protect U.S. consumers by ensuring that the contents of bottles labeled as Brunello di Montalcino contain wine that is entitled to be labeled with that appellation of origin, and that the wine in such bottles is covered by the Certificates of Label Approval (COLAs) issued for the wine.

    Italian authorities, including the Guardia di Finanza (Financial Police) and the Florence Centrale del Controllo Qualità dei Prodotti Alimentari (Food Quality Control Unit) investigated the improper inclusion of other grape varieties in Brunello di Montalcino wine.  The investigation indicated that grapes from vineyards which were not authorized to be used for the production of Brunello di Montalcino wine were used in the production of some wine.  During the investigation, the Italian judicial authorities seized potentially improperly produced wine and sequestered unauthorized vines in some vineyards.  Following the investigation, Italian authorities ordered several wineries to declassify some of the seized wine to appellations of origin which do not require production from exclusively Sangiovese grapes.  Five wineries — Banfi srl; Antinori Società Agricola; Pian delle Vigne di Montalcino srl; Agricola Centolani srl di Montalcino; and Azienda Agricola Casanova di Neri Giacomo di Montalcino — have resolved their cases with the judicial authorities.  Two additional wineries — Argiano srl di Montalcinoand Tenuta Castelgiocondo and Luce della Vite srl di Montalcino — are still in the process of resolving their judicial cases.

  5. Discussion.

    TTB has been in close communication with the Italian authorities throughout the investigation.  TTB will remain in contact with the Italian authorities as they continue to monitor and provide assurances to TTB regarding exports of Brunello di Montalcino wine produced by the seven wineries mentioned above.

    Based on the resolution of these cases and assurances from Italian Government officials that all of the improperly produced wine was successfully sequestered, effective immediately, TTB is suspending the certification requirement imposed by TTB Industry Circular 2008–2 for all importers of Brunello di Montalcino wine.

  6. Questions.

    If you have any questions concerning this circular, please contact the International Trade Division (ITD) at (202) 453–2260 or itd@ttb.gov.
John Manfreda
John J. Manfreda
Administrator
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
 
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