Counterfeit Brunello: “largest agricultural fraud ever attempted” says Italian official

tuscan cypress trees montalcinoIn what Italian authorities say was the “largest agricultural fraud ever attempted,” an unnamed winery consultant in Montalcino has been accused of falsifying vineyard compliance documentation. The counterfeit wine was seized by Italian treasury officials before being sold.

The individual allegedly responsible for fraudulently labeling more than 220,000 bottles of Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino was not an enologist, as previously reported.

“The author of the crime,” writes Corriere della Sera wine writer Luciano Ferraro on his blog today, “was a sort of jack-of-all-trades consultant who was used by tens of small wineries in the appellation. The grape growers entrusted him with bookkeeping and bureaucratic compliance, tasks that can be difficult to deal with for small farmers. Taking advantage of their trust and the free hand he had been given, he doctored the production amounts.”

According to Ferraro, the counterfeiter “augmented the amount of wine that was actually produced, making sure that the number of hectares [planted to vine] and producible hectoliters [of wine] aligned. The real wine remained at the winery. The extra wine, which existed only on paper, took the form of tanks of liquid that had nothing to do with Brunello or Rosso di Montalcino but was given to other wineries as authentic.”

“It’s the largest agricultural fraud ever attempted,” according to Luca Albertario, Siena Province commander for the Italian treasury department, who is quoted in Ferraro’s post.

Ferraro notes that the wine was seized before being released into the market.

Translations by DoBianchi.com.

One thought on “Counterfeit Brunello: “largest agricultural fraud ever attempted” says Italian official

  1. “… fraudulently labeling more than 220,000 bottles of Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino …”. Calling that the largest fraudulent labeling exercise is hardly credible. Italy is known for the Mafia to doctor popular wines and as my father used to say of a certain label called “Lake Such-and-Such” (cannot recall the real name unfortunately): “Son, there’s more “”Lake Such-and-Such” wine bottles each year than there is water in “Lake Such-and-Such””. The Mafia turned wine “redder” by adding steer’s blood and made it more “copious” by adding alcohol and juices. This must go into the millions of bottles yearly so I wonder if that was not just a front operation (because in Mafia territory, it would be rather unusual for a single bookkeeper to engage in the same business as the Mafia if it were not with their consent).

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