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james 04-23-2008 04:23 PM

Is it really Brunello?
Hot on the heals of the non-Italian Italian olive oil, olive oil found with added sunflower oil, contaminated Mozzarella di Bufala and the collapse of the Air France-Alitalia merger, comes a new story. Now it's wine. There is an investigation into whether some of the large Italian wineries are adding grapes other than Sangiovese to their Brunello. Over 1 million bottles of Brunello have been impounded, including wine from Antinori and Frescobaldi. There is even talk of jail time.

Ouch. You can read more here:

‘Bolt From the Blue’ on a Tuscan Red - New York Times

This is not good.

gjbingham 04-23-2008 07:06 PM

Re: Is it really Brunello?
Whoa, big names in Italian wine. Greed is a funny thing. Their whole reputation is gone for probably 20 years or more.

mfiore 04-23-2008 07:12 PM

Re: Is it really Brunello?
This scandal is a true shame. Brunello di Montalcino is one of the premier wine regions in Italy (in the world for that matter). Italian law is quite complicated, and not always just. It seems as if a witch hunt is occurring.

Still, I was surprised that Argiano made the decision to declassify their 2003 Brunello. The investigation has only been going on for 3 weeks. The 2003 have been in the making for nearly 5 years. What is the rush to declassify unless they recognize the wine is falsely labeled.

james 04-23-2008 07:19 PM

Re: Is it really Brunello?
This one is pretty straightforward. Brunello di Montalcino must be made 100% from the Brunello clone of Sangiovese. If you get caught messing with one of the premium marks, that's not good. We had a number of wine families at the Florence international school, and heard that various bottlers had been fined over the years for putting Trebbiano from Abruzzo into Chianti.

I guess the profit motivation can be too tempting for some.

mfiore 04-23-2008 07:33 PM

Re: Is it really Brunello?
The problem is that the Brunello region as a whole has been put on trial in the eyes of the media. There is an investigation, yet no one has been formally charged of anything yet - just mere speculation.

Some stray vines of non Brunello grapes have been found in these old vineyards, but they have not been able to demonstrate that these grapes were used in the wines. The concern is that the wine makers are adding "new world" grapes such as Cabernet Savignon or Merlot to the wines to appeal to the American market or to the US critics. Stylistically, Brunello has changed a great deal over the past decade.

If they really wanted answers, gas chromatography could be utilized to evaluate the grapes used in the wines. This long, dragged out investigation leads me to believe there are political agendas involved.

james 04-23-2008 09:16 PM

Re: Is it really Brunello?
Nothing is ever clear in Italian politics, and nothing ever gets resolved. Cases are never resolved, appeals are eternal and no one ever gets convicted. Just look at the PM. :-) I guess we'll watch with interest.

gjbingham 04-23-2008 10:52 PM

Re: Is it really Brunello?
I hope my Castello Banfi from '95 are OK. Regardless, its sad to see corruption and greed destroy what is/was considered to be one of the finest things made by old world traditions.

mfiore 04-24-2008 04:58 AM

Re: Is it really Brunello?
George, I'm sure your '95 Banfi is tainted. You should probably get rid of it, I'd send it to me.

Dutchoven 04-24-2008 06:06 AM

Re: Is it really Brunello?

Originally Posted by mfiore (Post 30460)
George, I'm sure your '95 Banfi is tainted. You should probably get rid of it, I'd send it to me.

Will you do the gas chromatography and let us know the results! ;)

Ed_ 04-24-2008 06:27 AM

Re: Is it really Brunello?
I don't know tons about wine, but surely Italy has some equivalent of the French "appellation contrôlée" labeling. It's not entirely clear from the Times article, but it seems reasonable to guess that this was found out through routine enforcement of such laws.

It'll be interesting to see what (if anything) happens. Italian politics are strange, at least to foreign eyes.


Originally Posted by The New York Times
“Italians are masters at damaging their own interests,” Montalcino’s mayor, Maurizio Buffi, said wryly.


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