Tuscan magistrates have released Marchesi Antinori's Brunello di Montalcino from impoundment, allowing the wine to be sold and making Antinori the first Montalcino producer under investigation to be cleared of suspicion. Laboratory tests concluded that the wine contains only Sangiovese, as required by the Brunello DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) regulations.
The Italian Finance Police, the Guardia di Finanza, seized Antinori's Pian delle Vigne Brunello di Montalcino 2003 in April, along with the 2003 Brunellos of Castelgiocondo (owned by Marchesi de'Frescobaldi), Castello Banfi and Argiano, as part of an investigation launched by Siena public prosecutor Nino Calabrese. The producers were suspected of blending in varieties other than Sangiovese.
Piero Antinori, who heads the Tuscan family winery, said that the Pian delle Vigne Brunello was subjected to analysis several times before being cleared. "We always knew there was no problem with the wines," said Antinori. "And we are really happy now, after three months of confusion."
The magistrates' decision to allow Antinori to sell its Brunello does not meet the requirement of the United States Alcohol and Tobacco and Trade Bureau (TTB) that any Brunello imported into the United States must be accompanied by an Italian government certificate guaranteeing that the wine was produced in adherence to the DOCG rules. According to newly appointed president of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, Patrizio Cencioni, the Italian agriculture ministry has yet to establish procedures for receiving the certificate.
Antinori says his winery will start releasing the Pian delle Vigne Brunello 2003 on July 1. "We look forward to selling our Brunello in America," he said.
Argiano declassified its Brunello 2003 in June and released it as a Toscana IGT, Il Duemilatre di Argiano (the 2003 of Argiano), to avoid delays as the investigation proceeded. Frescobaldi and Banfi are still awaiting clearance.
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