The following is an excerpt from today’s Times article on the recent Brunello controversy by Elisabetta Povoledo. Read the entire piece here. Look for Franco’s comments to David Lynch’s recent article, “True Brunello” in the May issue of Wine & Spirits Magazine. Visit Franco’s polemical Italian blog VinoalVino.org for more commentary on the current controversy and scroll down for coverage of recent developments.
‘Bolt From the Blue’ on a Tuscan Red
Winemakers in Tuscany ask: who is being honest?
By Elisbaetta Povoledo
Why would anyone want to use unapproved grapes?
“Very simple,” said Franco Ziliani, the Italian wine expert who helped spread the word about the scandal on his blog, vinowire.com. “Adding cabernet or merlot, which are more pleasant to the American palate, makes for a more appealing wine for the average consumer as well as critics.”
The American market, Mr. Ziliani said, is among the most lucrative and prestigious. Merlot in particular, he said, “makes sangiovese’s acidic tannins rounder, and more ready to drink,” and these grapes give these wines a darker color. Such wines regularly score in the high 90s with American critics, which usually translates into big sales.
He and others believe winemakers in the region have been doctoring their brunello for much of the past decade.
Mr. Ziliani, the critic, is outraged by the reaction of many winemakers.
“Even though honest growers might be upset that the rules have been broken, they’re also irritated — and this is very Italian — that it’s interfering with their business,” he said. “I think most producers in Montalcino would have preferred that things went on as before — with some companies selling real brunello, and others not — because in any case brunello sells.”