Following yesterday’s celebration of Montalcino’s patron saint, Maria Santissima del Soccorso (Our Lady of Perpetual Succour), village residents anxiously await the results of the Siena prosecutor’s testing of impounded bottles of Brunello di Montalcino.
According to VinoWire’s sources in Montalcino, the testing process began yesterday, May 8, 2008. In the wake of an investigation launched as early as 2004, magistrate Nino Calabrese ordered that the wine be tested for the presence of grapes other than Sangiovese (the appellation requires that only Sangiovese grapes be used in the production of Brunello di Montalcino). In at least one case, wines are also being tested for excessive yields. Sources also report that the magistrate’s office has agreed to expedite the process and results may be available as early as next week. More than 1 million bottles have been impounded.
While wineries Frescobaldi and Banfi continue to assert that their wines meet appellation requirements, VinoWire’s sources in Montalcino have revealed that winemaker Antinori has declassified the 2003 vintage of its single-vineyard Brunello di Montalcino, Pian delle Vigne, and plans to release it as an IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica or Characteristic Geographical Classification). (Argiano announced the declassification of its 2003 Brunello in an open letter to consumers and trade dated April 21, 2008).
Despite repeated requests for a list of wines being tested (according to some reports, samples have been taken from more than 80 wineries), the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino (Brunello producers association) will hold a “plenary session” on Wednesday, May 14. (The ) continues to maintain its silence. Yesterday, Decanter.com reported that the Consorzio is weighing changes in procedures for evaluating future vintages of Brunello.