According to a report published today in the Italian national daily business newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, aerial surveys of Montalcino revealed the presence of “ghost vineyards” and discrepancies in figures reported by producers to the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino (Brunello producers association) and to the Italian treasury department. Revelation of these discrepancies led investigators to believe that wines produced in Montalcino were “cut” with grapes sourced from other areas, wrote journalist Nicola Dante Basile.
While many facts in the ongoing investigation of Montalcino producers remain unclear, financial misconduct is at the heart of the inquiry, according to Basile. If allegations of wrongdoing prove to be true, noted Basile, companies implicated in the current scandal may be charged with making false financial statements to the Italian government and to the European Union and may also be forced to repay financing obtained on the basis of false information.
In essence, Italian treasury investigators discovered that producers were reporting the presence of non-existent vineyards in order to justify production levels. Their motivation, according to Basile, was not to produce wines more “round” in style by adding grapes other than Sangiovese (appellation regulation require that Brunello di Montalcino be made from 100% Sangiovese grapes). Montalcino winemakers simply wanted to make more wine than their vineyards could produce, wrote Basile. As a result, he speculates, they sourced fruit — presumably grapes other than Sangiovese — from vineyards outside the appellation.
The text of the article is not yet available online at the publisher’s site but VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani has published the original in this post.