Breaking news: Rosso di Montalcino proposed changes (documentation)

It is with a heavy heart that I share today’s news from Montalcino.

Italy’s top wine blogger Franco Ziliani (my partner in and co-editor and founder of VinoWire) has obtained a document that specifies proposed changes for the Rosso di Montalcino appellation. I haven’t had time to review them carefully but I am very alarmed by the “hypothesis for three typologies [categories] of Rosso di Montalcino”:

1) Rosso di Montalcino Sangiovese Superiore: 100% Sangiovese (with a 1% “tolerance” of other grape varieties).

2) Rosso di Montalcino Sangiovese: 100% Sangiovese (1% tolerance).

3) Rosso di Montalcino: minimum 85% and up to 100% Sangiovese, “authorized” red grape varieties up to 15% (1% tolerance).

Click here to view a full-sized version of the document.

Although it doesn’t appear that the Brunello oligarchy plans to call a vote on the proposal anytime soon, it has called for “ordinary assembly” of producers to put the modifications to the floor (September 7).

Rosso di Montalcino with up to 15% Merlot (see the third category)? Please say it ain’t so…

Anecdotally, Franco reports today on his blog that producers are “optimistic” that only 10% of them would vote to adopt the changes.

At least one producer wondered rhetorically and philosophically, “why isn’t there a proposal to not change the appellation?” It seems that the powers-that-be are hell bent on opening the floodgates of Merlot in Montalcino.

Last week, Montalcino experienced some heat spikes, as warm weather arrived from Africa. I regret that this doesn’t bode well for the 2011 vintage (although at least one producer is reporting cool evening and morning temperatures).

I’m with Franco when he says he hopes that the heatwave will pass quickly and stop “cooking the brains,” as they say in Italian, of the Montalcino establishment.

12 thoughts on “Breaking news: Rosso di Montalcino proposed changes (documentation)

  1. Rosso di Montalcino appellation has come so far in the US in the last 10 years, I hate to see a change like this. Would hate to see true traditional winemakers from Montalcino start making more generic wines.

  2. There is a certain cathegory of Italians that doesn’t take NO for a definitive refusal. The majority of Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino’s producers had already expressed their refusal to change the rules. So, why this Assemblea due on September 7th, when everybody is busy with the preparations for the harvest?

    My worst fear is that there will be a fracture within the producers of the Consorzio del Brunello and Rosso. Divide et impera, according to the Romans?

  3. Being on the commercial US side of things, this is even sadder for me. If the we don’t protect these wines from becoming “internationalized”, consumers will likely still buy them. The problem is, they won’t know that what they’re drinking is becoming farther and farther removed from what a great place like Montalcino can actually mean. For the people (like the producers) who DO know what kind of rich, local history they are lucky enough to have- I wish they would hold tight to these traditions for as long as possible. Otherwise they truly will be lost forever. People will think Rosso di Montalcino is supposed to taste like Merlot. Sad!

  4. Thank you for you very passionate post Jeremy! I hope that all the American wine writers and bloggers friends of Montalcino wine can express all the outrage for the Consorzio del Brunello obstinacy to change the rules of production of Rosso and not to adapt to the will of the most part of Montalcino wineries

  5. Great. [insert sarcasm here]. Then it will be marketed in bag-in-box to pair with things like milk chocolate and Big Macs. The minute I hear “Rosso di Montalcino makes a great porch pounder unlike that thar Chiant-ay” I’m outta here.

  6. Belatedly joining the chorus of disapproval. Can’t say I am disappointed. You need to have expectations to be disappointed. Thanks for the news, Dr. P.

  7. Agree Strappo. Thanks Dottore. The Consorzio is making a decision that does not think about the future (which I believe is heading towards authenticity ie 100% Sangiovese). Reminded of Illy’s open letter to Consorzio – now there’s a brand they should learn from! Salute – J

  8. Pingback: Seeing Rosso: the economic and social impact of changing Rosso di Montalcino | vinissima

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