Brunello vote results: appellation regulations remain unchanged

Members of the Brunello producers association voted today not to change their appellation regulations. The following vote results were posted a few minutes ago by wine blogger and winemaker Alessandro Bindocci of Il Poggione, a Brunello producer (n.b.: ampelographic basis denotes the grape variety composition of the wine; current law requires that Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino be made from 100% Sangiovese grapes):

Proposition 1: are you in favor of changing the ampelographic basis for Brunello di Montalcino?

662 NO
30 YES

Proposition 2: are you in favor of changing the ampelographic basis for Rosso di Montalcino?

540 NO
162 YES

Proposition 3: are you in favor of making other changes to the appellation rules? For example, changing the maximum yields for Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Moscadello, and Sant’Antimo? Or allowing for the use of concentrated rectified must?

474 NO
228 YES

Proposition 4: are you in favor of grouping all the current appellations, except for Sant’Antimo, in a single Montalcino appellation?

684 NO
6 YES

Proposition 5: are you in favor of grouping all the current appellations, except for Brunello di Montalcino, in a single Montalcino appellation?

572 NO
118 YES

Brunello vote not held “in secret,” results expected shortly

According to Italian wine blogger and winemaker at Il Poggione, Alessandro Bindocci, today’s Brunello producers association vote was not held “in secret” and the results of the vote are currently being tallied (as of 9:00 p.m. Italian time). Results are expected shortly. The body met today to vote on whether or not appellation regulations should be changed to allow for the blending of grapes other than Sangiovese (currently, by law, Brunello di Montalcino must be produced using 100% Sangiovese grapes).

According to Bindocci, during today’s meeting, some of the largest Brunello producers expressed their position that appellation regulations should not be changed. “These included,” writes Bindocci, “Biondi Santi, Il Poggione, Col d’Orcia, Frescobaldi, Banfi, and Antinori.” In his post, Bindocci and father Fabrizio Bindocci call this a “very good sign.”

Guest opinion: Brunello producers’ statement in defense of Brunello made from 100% Sangiovese

The following producers issued the below statement earlier this week: Biondi Santi, Il Poggione, Tenuta Col d’Orcia, Fattoria dei Barbi, Tenuta Le Potazzine, Tiezzi, and Caprili. (translation by VinoWire)

On Wednesday, October 15, the signatures of 149 (of 248) members of the Brunello Consortium were presented to the Consortium President. The signatories have requested a meeting of the body to establish once and for all that article 2 of the Brunello di Montalcino appellation regulations must not be changed (article 2 requires 100% Sangiovese). The 149 signatories represent roughly 60% of the votes of Consortium members.

Perhaps for the first time in modern agriculture, and certainly in the world of fine wine, a crowded group of producers — and markedly diversified among them — has united to undersign a document intended to protect their wine and its authenticity.

The facts. The owners of seven estates in Montalcino have become concerned by possible assaults on the appellation regulations for Brunello. Word of such assaults has been denied by authorities by has been confirmed by the evidence of the facts and by their underlying urgency. In the light of the upcoming meeting to be held on October 27, they have united and are working together to gather the signatures of the other producers who, like them, cherish the substance, authenticity, and reputation of their wine.

Nothing of the kind has ever happened before. Historic wineries, indigenous growers, and even business-owners who are not part of Montalcino and its environs, have worked side-by-side to defend Brunello — a true star “made in Italy.” And they have proven successful.

They have gathered 149 signatures of member wineries and 4 non members, representing 59.44% of the producers and 59.61% of the votes. The signatories have undersigned a document intended to demonstrate their will to maintain INTACT the appellation regulations. This document requires the appellation regulations be publicly respected.

Beyond the legal obligation of said document, it is a declaration with profound ethical and moral meaning, in the context of Montalcino and its environs — where the signatories operate — and in support of enthusiasts of Brunello and the land that produces it.

By defending the identity of Brunello di Montalcino, these producers are acting to support all authentic “made in Italy” products. In this moment of global financial straits, these products can help our country if they are supported in deed.

This document was presented to the President of the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium, the Mayor of Montalcino, and the Italian Minister of Agriculture on October 15, 2008

Montalcino, October 21, 2008

For more information, contact the sponsors of the petition:

Tenuta Il Greppo – Biondi Santi: +39-0577-848087
Tenuta Il Poggione: +39-0577-844029
Tenuta Col d’Orcia: +39-0577-80891
Fattoria dei Barbi: +39-0577-841111
Tenuta Le Potazzine:+39-0577-846168
Az. Agr. Tiezzi Enzo: +39-0577-848187
Az. Agr. Caprili: +39-0577-848566

Siena prosecutor: many of the companies implicated in Brunello investigation “violated appellation regulations.”

Evidently in response to a press release issued by Banfi this week, in which Banfi claimed that its 2003 Brunello had been released by authorities, the Siena prosecutor sent the following statement to members of the press today. (See this post published at Decanter.com on Monday.)

“Recent news published in the mass media — local and national — with regard to the investigation of ‘Brunello di Montalcino’ has prompted the Siena Prosecutor’s Office to provide some clarification in order to ensure that all producers and consumers receive correct information.”

According to the statement, “the Siena office of the Italian Treasury and the Florence office of the Central Inspectorate for Quality Control of Food and Agricultural Products have conducted numerous investigations ordered by the Siena Magistrate. Seizures were ordered in corporate offices and in private homes; documentation was seized at the Brunello Producers Association and analyzed; vineyards were inspected; photographic surveys were conducted on the ground and from the air; and substantive analysis was made of financial and other documentation.” The investigation began in September 2007.

The investigation has revealed that “many of the companies implicated have violated the appellation regulations for Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Rosso di Montalcino DOC.”

Authors of the statement, magistrates Nino Calabrese and Mario Formisano, who both signed the letter personally, wrote: “6,500,000 liters of Brunello di Montalcino and 700,000 liters of Rosso di Montalcino were impounded. Roughly 1,100,000 liters of Brunello di Montalcino have been declassified to IGT Toscana Rosso. Roughly 450,000 liters of Rosso di Montalcino have been declassified to IGT Toscana Rosso.”

“Following declassification, the producers implicated in the investigation requested that their wine be released.”

The wine was released, write the magistrates, only after producers agreed to declassify the adulterated wine and after “the remaining quantities of wine were found to be in conformity with appellation regulations, in part through laboratory tests.”

Brunello producers publish open letter to agriculture ministry as the appellation gears for final vote on proposed changes

In an open letter published yesterday, 149 Brunello producers have asked the Italian agriculture ministry to leave current appellation regulations unchanged. By law, Brunello di Montalcino must be made with 100% Sangiovese grapes. In the wake of a recent investigation by a Siena magistrate (who alleged that a small number of wineries were using grapes other than Sangiovese), some have called for a change in legislation that would allow for the use of international grape varieties. Agriculture minister Luca Zaia has expressed his support for proposed changes, as have noted enologist and former Banfi director Ezio Rivella and winemaker Angelo Gaja.

The signatories represent a majority of the 256 association members. News of the letter was first published late yesterday by blogger Alessandro Bindocci, winemaker at Tenuta Il Poggione, one of the letter’s signatories. While the entire list of signatories has not been published (for “privacy reasons”, according to Bindocci), VinoWire editor Franco Ziliani was able to obtain the following list of underwriters: Biondi Santi, Il Poggione, Col d’Orcia, Caprili, Barbi, Le Potazzine, Tiezzi.

News of the letter comes as the Brunello producers association braces for a final vote on proposed changes, to be held on October 27.

The Brunello producers association also made news this week when it announced that it plans to sue the editor of magazine L’Espresso for libel. In April 2008, during the week of the Italian wine industry’s wine fair, Vinitaly, the magazine published an issue entitled “Velenitaly” or poisoned Italy in which it linked the Brunello controversy to health scares in Apulia and Campania. See this report by Decanter.com.