Friday, April 25, 2008

The Brouhaha Over Brunello

In just about every European country in which large quantities of wine are produced, a dizzying set of rules applies as to which varieties of grapes can be used, how long the wine must be aged, and so forth. Italy is a case in point. A prosecutor there is trying to determine whether some vintners in one of the most prestigious wine-growing areas of Italy have broken those rules.

More from the NY Times:

Since late last year a prosecutor has been investigating whether some of the major producers of [Brunello di Montalcino] have been violating the laws that determine whether their product can bear that name, the most prestigious among all Tuscan wines.

The prosecutor has impounded more than a million bottles from some of the most prominent Italian winemakers — including Antinori and Frescobaldi — while he determines whether they used unapproved techniques or grapes other than brunello, the local name for sangiovese, supposedly to give their idiosyncratic wine a broader international appeal.

The woes of Montalcino come on top of other scandals that have called into question the purity of some of Italy’s most famous products. On Monday, Italian police said extra virgin olive oil from seven factories had been doctored with sunflower and soybean oil. There have been concerns that mozzarella might have been contaminated because of illegal garbage dumping around Naples, and adulterated wine is said to have been found in several regions.