Three directors of Emmanuel Delicata Winemaker Ltd today were charged with falsification of labels on bottles claiming to be DOK wine.
Vincent George Delicata,64, and his two sons Mario aged 35 and Michael aged 33 were charged with the offence.
Testifying, Gilbert Camilleri, former Head of Viticulture section within the Agricultural Department, said in 2011 a complaint had been filed claiming Delicata were using DOK labels on wine imported from Italy. DOK labels should only be used on locally produced wines.
Gilbert Camilleri, who has since left the Viticulture section, said he had gone to Pavi Supermarket to purchase six samples, "as this was the closest outlet". The section had no legal warrant to seize samples from the accused. Four of the purchased bottles were sent to Siena, Italy for tests and two were kept at the Agricultural Department at Ghammieri.
The samples were sent to Italy by DHL courier and were only packed to protect the bottles from damage. The package bore no seal of authority.
The Italian sommeliers certified the sampled wine as being good for consumption. Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit asked the witness if tests were done to certify the origin of the grape used. Camilleri replied this test is only done upon request and it was not requested in this case.
He also stated how each winery is given a number of DOK labels equivalent to the quantity of grapes bought locally and wine produced from them. In the case of Delicata winery the quantity of wine produced from locally grown grapes matched the number of issued DOK labels issued by the Department.
Defence counsel Dr Giannella De Marco asked the witness if Malta has a DNA database of locally produced grapes. This was a prerequisite when Malta joined the EU. The former head of the viticulture section explained how in 2011 the department had a database of sorts. He also said that it takes a brilliant sommelier to recognise a maltese merlot from an italian one.
Asked about the result of the Siena tests, Camilleri told the court he did not receive these results. "It was former Permanent Secretary Chris Ciantar who received them. He had passed them to a certain Claudette Gambin who was in the process of taking my position,” he replied. He stated the complaint from the two rival wineries was also not received by the Viticulture Unit but was received by the former permanent secretary himself.
The case continues on 16 September.