In his post on Friday, Eric referenced my post at Do Bianchi (please see also the post published by me and Franco Ziliani at VinoWire).
In my post on the October 3 Brunello debate, I wrote:
As I watched the live streaming of the Brunello debate on Friday, I couldn’t help but think of Marinetti’s calls to abolish pasta and to “murder the moonshine” (uccidiamo il chiaro di luna! or let’s kill the claire de lune, 1909) when I heard one of Italy’s leading enologists, Ezio Rivella, say that “Sangiovese is a ‘lean’ grape with little color” and that the Italian wine industry would be better served by “using international grape varieties” and “making wines more international in style.”
“You don’t win a 100 points from the Wine Spectator,” said Rivella, “using just Sangiovese.”
Yesterday, Thomas Matthews, executive editor of Wine Spectator, made the following comment on Eric’s post:
After reading this blog entry, I called Ezio Rivella, who is currently in Rome, and spoke with him and James Suckling, Wine Spectator’s lead taster for the wines of Italy. Rivella told us the quotation referenced above was taken out of context, that his point was only to say that Sangiovese can benefit from blending in many cases. He wishes that Mr. Asimov had called him directly to discuss this issue.
Dear Ezio and Thomas, it’s a matter of fact: the statement was made in the context of a debate on whether or not the Brunello appellation regulations should be changed to allow the blending of international grape varieties. And it’s the fact of the matter: Rivella made that statement, voice raised, pointing his finger at Franco and admonishing him, during a debate on whether or not international grapes should be allowed in the Brunello appellation. I watched the debate live over the internet and Franco was there!
Thomas, me thinks thou dost protest too much.
Ezio, feel free to give me a call. Franco knows how to get in touch with me and I know that you and he are in cordial if not friendly contact.
Jeremy Parzen, Ph.D.
In other news…
Over at Montalcino Report, my friend Alessandro Bindocci reports that 153 Brunello producers have now signed an open letter to agriculture minister Luca Zaia and the Brunello Consortium asking them to keep Brunello 100% Sangiovese. 149 had signed the original letter last week and that number already represented a majority of producers.
Jeremy Parzen, PhD.,
Neither Ezio nor I said the quote was incorrect.
However, the implication given by Eric’s use of it (though not so much here in this blog), was Ezio somehow knew that Wine Spectator does not believe a wine made purely of Sangiovese can ever be “perfect”. That is clearly not the case; James Suckling has given 100-point ratings to two Brunellos, which, we believe, are 100 percent Sangiovese, and Suckling is on record as arguing for the inherent quality and great potential of the grape.
What Ezio’s statement seems to mean is that HE does not believe Sangiovese by itself can make a perfect wine, which is why he is arguing for the right to blend other varieties in Brunello. But that is Ezio’s opinion about Sangiovese, not Wine Spectator’s, and to bring Wine Spectator into the argument is to take Ezio’s statement out of context.
Mr. Matthews, do you agree that is upsetting that the past A.D. of the greater Brunello di Montalcino winery, Banfi, don’t think that Sangiovese grapes is not enough and needs some other grapes to produce a great Brunello? Eric Asimov quote was absolutely correct. Re Mr. Suckling taste and preferences about Brunello is a very long and not so simple discourse… We have the demonstration by the two Brunello 100/100, according to Mr. Suckling ideas, of course!
I know another man in Italy who is used to say that the quotation is out of context… or that his words are misunderstood… Anyway, nothing to be upset or amazed. “Omnia (im)munda (im)mundi”…
I think Ezio Rivella has earned the right to his opinions, whether or not I agree or disagree.
I personally would prefer that Brunello remain 100 percent Sangiovese, as there are other DOC’s for blends. But Wine Spectator believes that the Brunello producers should set their own rules for their wines.
We also believe that it is unwise and ultimately futile to try to regulate wine style. While tradition has its virtues, science, art and taste all evolve, and wine evolves with them.
It doesn’t apply better than in this case: in vino (disputandum) veritas.
Il cavalier Rivella tradito da troppa foga.
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