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Delhi Wine Club

Posted: Monday, August 24 2009. 10:55

Italian Bank for Wine as Collateral

The idea fermenting in the minds of Italian banks to start accepting wine as a collateral against bank loans to the crisis-hit producers may have a streak of hope for Indian producers like Indage as well, though the poor ageability and quality  will be a stumbling block.

The idea, brought out last week by an influential Italian bank chairman and wine producer Gianni Zonin has the backing of the Italian minister of Agriculture Luca Zaia, the Italian equivalent of our Mr. Sharad Pawar.

Traditionally, Italian banks store wheels of parmesan cheese which are under curing process as loan, with each wheel costing up to €300 each. If the plan materializes, the expensive wines and dry-cured hams will be accepted as collateral against bank loans.

"We've done it with cheese, why not with prosciutto and good wines like Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico?" said Gianni Zonin, chairman of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza and head of the 7-generation old family run winery, Zonin founded in 1821, and running 11 family estates in various parts of Italy.

"This is a great idea, it has my blessing," said Luca Zaia, the Italian agriculture minister, according to a report in the Guardian.

Since the bank can sell the cheese if creditors default, it can afford to offer low interest rates to an industry which is suffering from recession and supermarket discounting.

Legs of cured ham, or prosciutto crudo, weighing about 10 kg, can sell for hundreds of Euros after months of curing in controlled conditions, while bottles of Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Barbaresco and Chianti Classico and Super Tuscans  are  snapped up for immediate drinking as well as cellaring.

"We may start off with accepting wine as collateral, but I would prefer the Italian banking association to launch an industry-wide scheme which involves a range of products," said Zonin. His wines are being imported by Aspri Wines and Spirits in India.

Gianni Zonin came to Delhi to open the representative office of the Banca Popolare di Vicenza on June 1, 2006. But wine making remains his first love. Zonin wines used to be known as value-for-money wines produced in bulk. But as he proudly explained to Subhash Arora, President of the Indian Wine Academy at an exclusive, private lunch at his wine estate in Gambellara, near Verona after Vinitaly 2006, ‘it is true we used to make inexpensive wines but we made what the market demanded. Now we have bought wineries in many other regions including Friuli, Tuscany and as far away as Sicily and are making some very fine wines.’

It is unlikely that the Banca would be any help to the Indian producers unless they were exporting wines to Italy or importing theirs in India, but it does show the pride and passion of Italian wine producers and does leave a food for thought for our agriculture minister, Mr. Sharad Pawar, to support the wine industry-both for Indian and imported wines and push them to go for fine wines as he has done.


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