. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: Montalcino... Yet Again

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Montalcino... Yet Again

In the film-noirish espionage that has plagued Montalcino over the past few months, the script is getting better by the minute. The latest development is that the Italian government took over the supervision the DOCG Montalcino, removing it from the Consorzio's hands. As reaction the President of the Consorzio di Montalcino, Francesco Marone Cinzano resigned from position.
He explained to Decanter Magazine that he left 2 years early because he had two goals; to keep the Montalcino producers united, and start an era of transparency, and according to his statements, those missions are now accomplished. That idea of justification doesn't really make sense to me, because if he thinks that the growers of Montalcino are united or operating under principles of transparency, he must had too much of his own Brunello. As long as we're talking about transparency, it's interesting to note that Count Cinzano is also the owner of Argiano, which is one the 100 wineries under investigation by the Italian authorities.
Some people can be so shameless!!!
I was talking with my friend Marco, who has been working with an Italian importer for many years, about the whole thing and he told me that as far as he knew, Gianfranco Soldera was the one who reported the "sophistication" of certain Brunello to the authorities, and started the investigations.
This leads me to wonder why Soldera would want to do such a thing, why he would want to destroy Montalcino's reputation, risking his own sterling reputation in the process. I guess he got tired, maybe tired of seeing celebrated critics praising Brunellos with high scores, Brunellos that by law should not be called Brunello. Or maybe, just maybe, he got tired of living in a town where 250 producers carry the DOCG band, and just few actually are worth that honor.
I don't really know what the reasoning was behind his opening that can of worms, or if it was really him who did it. But one thing I do know is that every time I go to Montalcino I'm surprised by how much the local businesses support the big wineries. I often have an argument with my friend Marina, whose family owns a great restaurant in Montalcino named Boccon Divino, about Banfi and why she has their wines on her list. The answer is always the same: "because Banfi did a lot for Montalcino." I always answer her: "yes, like trying to convince everybody to plant Moscadello instead of Sangiovese," then the argument keeps on going back and forth until somebody stops us. It seems that the Montalcino Enoteche take more pride in showing mainstream products than smaller producers that most of the time guarantee a better quality for more or less the same price. Now that most of the "well known" wineries are all but caught red-handed with tainted wines, I'll be curious to see a change in the way Brunello is praised. I remember not long ago, The Wine Spectator released an issue on Montalcino where the front page displayed a big picture of the Frescobaldi estate, and the highest scores were reserved for the very same wineries that today are under investigation. I hope all of this scandal will help the honest growers... but I have a feeling that in the end they will be the ones paying direly for somebody else's mistakes.
Buona Bevuta a Tutti

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