In a two-part video interview posted here and here via YouTube last week by Italian wine writer Carlo Macchi (editor of the online food and wine magazine WineSurf), the newly elected president of the Brunello Producers Association (Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino), Ezio Rivella, dropped a bombshell when he said that before the Brunello scandal broke in 2008, “80% of the wine” labeled as Brunello di Montalcino “was not pure Sangiovese.” He added that “only small amounts of other grapes, up to 5%,” were blended into the wines but, when pressed, he confirmed that “it was a widely accepted practice.”
When asked about his plans to revitalize the appellation, he told Macchi that his top priority was to stabilize pricing among the growing number of bottlers of Brunello. Many, he said, were selling low-quality wines at extremely low prices labeled as Brunello. Another issue he plans to address, he said, was a re-branding of Rosso di Montalcino. “We need to stop thinking of Rosso di Montalcino as second-hand Brunello,” he told Macchi.
When pressed about his intention to re-write the appellation regulations for Brunello, potentially allowing for the use of grapes other than Sangiovese, Rivella answered that “the law states that the producers decide” how the wine should be made “and the producers have decided that the wine should be 100% Sangiovese. So, for the moment, we will not be discussing this. But we will be in future.”
When asked who in the world of wine had impressed him the most over the course of his long career, he said that “Robert Mondavi was the personality who impressed me the most, because of his serious approach to our work.”