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.