Brunello di Montalcino has been in the news again in Italy following an Italian finance police press conference this past Saturday in Siena when it recapped its nearly two-year investigation into fraudulent winemaking practices in the region. So far, no one has been charged or prosecuted.
We have reported all this since the investigation began in September 2007. And, unless my Italian is really that bad, I can’t see anything new in many parts of the Guardia di Finanza’s press release that I read, or in press reports. There still seems to be plenty of name-calling, and passing on hearsay, since to my knowledge government officials have never named any winery in the allegations. But this seems to be the norm in Italy, unfortunately.
The Guardia said that 1.3 million liters of Brunello di Montalcino has been declassified since the investigation began as well as 500,000 liters of Rosso di Montalcino, 150,000 liters of Chianti and another 100,000 liters of red was distilled. None of this, by the way, was done under the finance police’s instructions. Producers themselves decided to declassify. (Of course, some of the wine had been impounded, so they had little choice!) The wines were from the vintages of 2007 to 2003.
Just to put it in perspective, the declassified Brunello represents about 2.9 percent of the total amount of Brunello held in the cellars of the wine region itself, whether in bottle, barrel or vat. According to Consorzio di Brunello di Montalcino (the Brunello growers association, which oversees production) about 35 million liters of Brunello are currently in stock in the region’s wineries.
The press has been throwing around the names of such producers as Castelgiocondo (owned by Marchesi de' Frescobaldi), Pian delle Vigne (owned by Antinori), Castello Banfi ,and Argiano as well as Casanova di Neri. I thought that all of them had been cleared. In fact, I spoke to people at Frescobaldi, Banfi and Neri over the past few days and they said it was all over. Giacomo Neri added that he never declassified anything and that they never did anything wrong.
Obviously, some people in Montalcino broke the law and they should be brought to justice. Apparently 17 people may be going to trial, although eight are supposedly cutting a deal with the authorities. But who knows when we will finally know their names. I am baffled by the Italian justice system.
In any case, my thoughts haven’t changed since my Oct. 23, 2008, blog. Brunello should be Brunello. I love Sangiovese, especially what’s coming out of Tuscany in bottle at the moment. The 2006 vintage is a great one for Sangiovese. Moreover, hillside vineyards around the medieval town of Montalcino are the best places in the world to grow Sangiovese. That should be protected and treasured.
Robert Horvath — July 24, 2009 12:53pm ET
Tom J Wilson — Canada — July 24, 2009 3:39pm ET
Matt Scott — Honolulu HI — July 24, 2009 8:14pm ET
Eric P Guido — New York, NY — July 24, 2009 9:20pm ET
Sandy Fitzgerald — Centennial, CO — July 25, 2009 10:54am ET
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Dennis D Bishop — Shelby Twp., MI, USA — July 26, 2009 10:43am ET
David English — July 27, 2009 10:13am ET
James Suckling — — July 27, 2009 10:45am ET
Marco Laico — charlotte nc — July 27, 2009 4:52pm ET
Gary Long — Palm Beach , Fl — July 29, 2009 10:21am ET
Trevor Witt — Ontario, Canada — September 22, 2009 12:20am ET
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