28 AUGUST 2002

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Wine Intergroup's visit to Meridiana

Six members of the Wine Intergroup toured Meridiana Wine Estate at Ta'Qali on the eve of Santa Maria as part of an official fact-finding Study of Maltese vineyards and wineries. The six Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from Luxembourg, France, Germany and Belgium were led by the Wine Intergroup's Chairman, the Hon. Ms Astrid Lulling, MEP from Luxembourg. The Euro-Parliamentary Group were accompanied by Mr Randall Caruana, Scientific Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture's recently established Viticulture & Oenology Unit.

Ms Astrid Lulling, in her concluding speech, observed that Meridiana had pioneered the production of high quality wines in Malta because it had embraced internationally recognised production and labelling standards from the project's conception. She stressed that it was important that, regardless of transition periods, Maltese vintners should adopt the rules of the Office International de Ia Vigne et du Vin (OIV) without delay. In Malta's southern latitude, OIV rules ban chaptalisation - the addition of sugar to wine. OIV rules also prohibit any labelling which misleadingly suggests that wines produced from imported grape-must are "Maltese" or "local". Ms Lulling noted that OIV standards are designed to protect the reputation of a nation's wine producers as a whole and to safeguard the welfare of consumers and growers. Growers will only be guaranteed a sustainable future in Maltese viticulture as long as their produce remains indispensable in the wine-production process. This is why Maltese wine must be made exclusively from wine-grapes grown in Malta! Ms Lulling clarified that OIV rules extend worldwide -beyond the European Union to the New World as well.

Ms Lulling commented that it was in the interest of vine-growers to unite, organise themselves and speak with one voice. Whilst acknowledging that the decision to join the European Union is the Maltese people's alone, Ms Lulling augured that Malta would avail itself of the viticultural incentives offered to it by European membership. This will enable the climatically blessed Maltese islands to develop their wine sector to the laudable heights already demonstrated by enterprises like Meridiana.

The Wine Intergroup

The Wine Intergroup was set up in 1994 by Euro-Parliamentarians interested in international winemaking practices from the perspectives of quality and tradition. The Wine Intergroup comprises 150 MEPs from the European Union's 15 member-states and is representative of the EU's entire political spectrum. The Wine Intergroup meets every other month in Strasbourg. It has established an excellent rapport with wine professionals who are regularly invited to participate in the Wine Intergroup's meetings. Study tours are organised to different regions within and outside the European Union. Non-member states include applicant nations such as Malta, and New World countries such as the U.S.A., South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.


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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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