Does Rosso di Montalcino need more personality?

In the wake of an aborted vote to change the Rosso di Montalcino appellation, Brunello producers association president Ezio Rivella (above) has broken the silence and explained the reason for wanting to add international grape varieties (Merlotization) to the currently monovarietal (100% Sangiovese) wine.

Speaking to his new public relations mouthpiece (ItaliaTV, which calls itself the “channel for internationlization”! HA!), he recently recounted how the producers association is “preparing a marketing plan [UGH] that will help us to relaunch Rosso di Montalcino as an independent wine — a wine that has its own personality.”

(I watched the video and translated some excerpts sans ironie over at VinoWire.)

Although I will commend ItaliaTV for its production value (decidedly better than Carlo Macchi Productions, who managed to capture Rivella saying that 80% of Brunello was illicitly blended with unauthorized grape varieties), I am repulsed by the fact Rivella continues to promote his personal agenda and program for internationalization and Merlotization in spite of the growing chorus of opposition voices (who succeeded at least in forcing the gerrymandering Rivella to postpone the vote to change the appellation).

I’ve been drinking Rosso di Montalcino since 1989 and I am here to tell you that honest producers never made it as a “leftover from Brunello.” They made it from younger vines grown in good (as opposed to top) growing sites; they made it as a more approachable expression of Sangiovese and their land, not intended for long-term aging; they made it to drink everyday (as opposed to special occasions); and they made it so folks like you and me could enjoy fresh, food-friendly, utterly delicious Sangiovese for around $20.

If that’s not personality, grits ain’t groceries and the Mona Lisa was Ezio Rivella

3 thoughts on “Does Rosso di Montalcino need more personality?

  1. It just occurred to me Jeremy that producers need to find a home for all the non-Sangiovese planted in the Montalcino zone that they were previously labeling “Brunello”.

    If it says “Montalcino” on the label, it should be mono-varietal Sangiovese. If a producer needs a home for the Cab they were calling “Brunello”, the Sant’ Antimo DOC is readily available.

    Blending French varieties into Rosso di Montalcino will only result in a loss of identifiable personality. All producers know the route to Rosso di Montalcino with more personality that represents the region. It is not outward; it is inward: meticulous viticulture, low yields and careful vinification and ageing of local Sangiovese.

    It is shocking how there is so little respect for tradition in areas like Montalcino, a region of arguably one of Italy’s top reds. Can you imagine Bordeaux or Burgundy producers allowing non-traditional varieties in even their lowest generic appellations for the purpose of gaining some sort of personality? Unthinkable.

    Label the “Brunello” Cab Sant ‘Antimo and earn what the market will bear. Don’t exploit “Montalcino” to recoup an investment on past illicit Brunello plantations. You made your bed now lay in it…

  2. Pingback: Brunello Dunello:Words to Ponder in Times of Folly

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