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Banfi's Brunello Cleared

Lab tests conclude all but a small percentage is 100 percent Sangiovese; a small amount tests inconclusive and will be declassified

Jo Cooke
Posted: October 20, 2008

Magistrates in Siena conducting an inquiry into the production of Brunello di Montalcino have cleared and released from impoundment almost the entire production of Castello Banfi's Brunello di Montalcino 2003 after laboratory tests concluded that the wine contained only Sangiovese, as required by Brunello DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) regulations.

According to Banfi's managing director, Enrico Viglierchio, the results for a very small percentage of the lots submitted for testing remained inconclusive, and Banfi has agreed to declassify those lots.

"We are finally out of it," said Viglierchio. "As far as we are concerned, the case is closed and there will be no further judicial consequences for anyone at Banfi. This is a great relief after six anxious months."

Banfi, an American-owned winery, is the largest producer of Brunello, making close to 60,000 cases in a given vintage. About one-third is shipped to the United States.

The Italian finance police, the Guardia di Finanza, seized Banfi's Brunello in April, together with the Brunellos of Antinori (Pian delle Vigne), Argiano and Frescobaldi (Castelgiocondo), as part of an investigation led by Siena public prosecutor Nino Calabrese. The producers were suspected of blending in varieties other than Sangiovese.

Argiano declassified its Brunello 2003 and released it as a Toscana IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), Il Duemilatre di Argiano (the 2003 of Argiano), to avoid delays as the investigation proceeded. Antinori's Pian delle Vigne was cleared in June and about half of Frescobaldi's Castelgiocondo Brunello was released in July.

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