According to a report published yesterday by Il Piccolo (a regional Italian daily newspaper based in Trieste), winery consultant Ramon Persello, age 39, has been accused by Italian authorities of using prohibited additives in the vinification of Sauvignon Blanc in the Collio and Colli Orientali appellations of Friuli.
Seventeen wineries have been implicated in the investigation, including some of Friuli’s most acclaimed estates. One of the producers named in the report was awarded the “best Sauvignon [Blanc] in Italy” prize at the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon (International Sauvignon Blanc Competition) held in Friuli in May of this year. Another brought home the top prize at the same competition in 2014 held in France.
Authorities believe, writes the author of the report, that Persello was adding a “magic potion” to the wines. An expert in bioclimatic design known for his abilities as a chemist, Persello — the “Archimedes of wine” — was adulterating the wines with an “elixir” that allegedly contained additives unauthorized by appellation regulations. An official quoted in the report said that while they suspect Persello of using prohibited additives, they do not believe his “secret” recipe to be harmful to wine drinkers.
The author speculates that he was reported to Italian anti-adulteration investigators by Friulian winemakers who envied the accolades lavished on his clients.
Persello’s laboratory was searched by Italian officials on Saturday, September 5. And yesterday, September 10, they began seizing wines for analysis at the wineries named in the investigation.
The fact that seizures occurred on the day of the opening of the twenty-first annual Friuli DOC festival was purely coincidental, said authorities. They had to act swiftly, said an official quoted in the report, because “word had spread” that an investigation was underway and it was feared that their efforts would be thwarted if they did not act immediately.
In an op-ed on the growing scandal published today on the popular Italian wine blog Intravino, Andrea Gori, a regular contributor to the blog and a highly regarded sommelier, notes that one of the wineries implicated in the investigation was recently named “best up-and-coming winery” by the editors of the Gambero Rosso Italian wine guide. The authors of the guide, he observes, used descriptors like “elder, mint, and passion fruit” to describe said winemaker’s Sauvignon Blanc, and they praised the wine for its “varietal” character.