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Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Italian PM Quenches Obama's Super Tuscan Thirst !



Prime minister Renzi wheels out the big guns for talks with Barack Obama.

 
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi certainly knew how to be persuasive when he talked trade with President Obama at the White House – he lubricated the negotiations with a selection of Italy's top reds.
The four "ambassadors" he brought with him – Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Tignanello and a Mastrojanni Brunello di Montalcino – certainly helped break the ice with a president who has admitted a fondness for Italian reds.
Obama grinned widely and nodded as Renzi recalled an interview Obama gave as a candidate in which he praised Italian wine.
"Let me just say that with, respect to the wine, I felt it would be insulting for me not to sample it," Obama said to laughter from reporters.
"I will give you, Matteo, a report on whether it's up to the quality that we expect," he joked after noting the importance of establishing strong commercial ties in the wine industry.
The US is the biggest market for wine in the world – ahead of France and Italy – with an annual consumption close to 30 million hectoliters. A spokesman for Coldiretti, the Italian agricultural association, said wine was a flag-bearer for Italian exports to the US.
"It is an important signal for the promotion of Italian produce and exports, especially around Expo [starting next month in Milan], which represents a unique opportunity to push Italian agrifood exports," he said.
In 2014, agrifood exports were worth €34.3 billion ($36.8bn) to the Italian economy. Wine is Italy's single most-exported food and beverage product, worth €5.1bn ($5.48bn) in 2014. The US is the main export market, with last year's exports there worth €1.1bn, the highest ever.
"Italy is the main foreign supplier of wine to the US, with 2.4m hectoliters," according to Coldiretti's spokesman. That's more than twice the amount that its closest competitor, Australia, exports to the US. Coldiretti added that exports were crucial to offset the drop in domestic consumption of wine, which fell to an all-time low of around 20m hectoliters, a drop of 19 percent since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008 .