Chiantigate? News of a new controversy breaks in Italy

When the first dispatch arrived in my inbox this morning with my nearly daily dose of WineNews.it, I just didn’t want to believe it was true. But then, after lunch, when Franco’s post appeared in my feed, I knew there was no ignoring it: Italian authorities believe that roughly 10 million liters of current-release Chianti and Toscana IGT and purportedly smaller amounts of Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino have been “cut” with inferior wines not in accordance with appellation regulations. News of the authorities’s investigation and their subsequent request for a preemptive seizure of wine was widely reported today in the Italian news media. Seventeen persons and forty-two wineries, including some of the big players (according to the reports), are under investigation.

What can I say? It literally makes me feel sick: I love Italy, I love Italian wine, I have more good friends in Italy than I can count, and the majority of Italian winemakers I know personally (and I know a lot) are honest, earnest, hard-working folks. And I will continue to buy, drink, enjoy, love, and write about Italian wines. But the news of yet another controversy makes me feel sick. Franco has stated openly that he no longer wants to write about the Brunello controversy or any other Italian wine controversy for that matter. But as a chronicler of the world Italian wine, he felt obliged today to repost the story for the sake of “the completeness of information.” And, so, as his colleague, friend, and partner, I, too, feel obliged to report it here.

When I was a child my family went through a crisis that was reported by the media. And whenever there was a story in the papers, my mother taught me to be the one to tell my friends — so that they would hear it from me and not from a stranger. It was one of the best lessons she ever taught me.

Well, here I am again, and my “family” is in trouble. And I want you to hear it from me. So be it. Surely, it is the saddest form of wine writing.

Ne nuntium necare.

12 thoughts on “Chiantigate? News of a new controversy breaks in Italy

  1. definitely unpleasant news…more important than ever to know which producers have integrity and to trust your palate to find truth!

    sorry 2B, maybe we’ll have a glass tonight.

  2. Pingback: Che tristezza « CASA PORCIATTI WEBLOG

  3. It’s a blow for hard-working, honest Italian winemakers — this is not an easy way to make a living, especially for smaller scale producers, and I hate to see anything that threatens their livelihood. I will do my part and focus on Italian wines for holiday consumption (a hard job, but someone has to do it…)

  4. Italians are stupid. Period.
    Last year Brunello… now Chianti…
    I blame it on short-sighted producers, mentally parasites for big-named wine-makers…
    What do you expect when you are ready to pay BIG MONEY only because you wanna be consulted by a “magician” to be up with your scores and media recognition? How every single one of this “wine Merlins” can provide you with a serious consultancy if they consult 50 wineries (OR MORE) at the same time?
    The answer is: TRYING TO ADJUST EVERY WINERY’S WINEMAKING PROCESS. Pretty logical…
    But what if NOT every consulted winery reach the same quality for the grapes or the juices?
    The answer is: MIXING AND MATCHING WITH SOME GRAPE OR JUICE FAMILIAR TO THE HIGHLY PAID WINEMAKER. No matter where the grapes are from. Absolutely easy, absolutely true, absolutely illegal.
    Wake up, open your eyes and support your small Brunello producer!

    The Terroir-ist Fred Man

  5. All I can add to this thread is a shared disappointment on the news, and concern for all the hard-working producers not “cutting” their wines who may suffer from the bad publicity. After such a difficult economic year, they don’t need yet another obstacle to doing good business. Alas, this also gives me an excuse to step outside of French wine for a meal or two and support the reputable producers (regardless of size) of Brunello & Rosso di Montalcino!

  6. I am thankful that, in this case, you chose to follow the path of integrity my friend. The truth coming out is always better than hiding behind widely accepted lies. Many Kudos to you and Franco for spreading the news- The Italian wine industry will emerge from this and other previous scandals – better for it! It may hurt now, but in the long run the wines will be more pure than ever before – and your palate will be thankful! It is sad for the winemakers/producers that do have integrity – but I do believe they will see a boon to their business because of that integrity. I’m going to crack open a bottle of Barolo now (and hope it has not been compromised in any way).

  7. Italians are not stupid. Some are but so are some Americans, Belgians, whatever. To be honest I don’t care about this. I might even applaud this it is an axe in the back of large producers, exporters who have silly stories about craftmanship, originality, etc.
    Most of the wines you can buy from Italy all over the world are from the same (boring) producers. I see Antoniori I lose my interest in the winelist.
    They mess with wine all over the world. Messing around with wines is done to wine who were inbevibile anyway.

  8. To everybody…
    If you like & drink French wines… you have no idea how much Italian grapes from Abruzzo you’ve been drinking so far…
    Integrity is a rare gift to be found.

  9. Pazienza, I feel it will turn out much less serious than it may seem. The article indicated 8 producers in toscana(not by name)were involved and some of them own wineries outside of Italy. There is so much extra juice in each area that it sounds like it would be the largest producers of chianti who have the most vino sfuso on hand to help expand their bottled production.

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