Italian winemakers consider new varieties

Italian winemakers will vote next week over whether to introduce new grape varieties to their region.

Producers in Rosso di Montalcino will gather on Wednesday 7 September to vote on whether or not to allow the introduction of varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah to the traditionally Sangiovese-based wine.

Rosso di Montalcino is supposed to be 100% Sangiovese, but in the case of a “yes” vote, a small proportion of these other varieties – up to 15% – will be allowed to be added.

Wine writer Nicolas Belfrage MW has appealed to the producers, in an open letter, to vote “no”, explaining that such a move would “fatally undermine the personality of the wine.”

He continued: “I would urge you in the strongest terms not to support this change. Rosso di Montalcino, like Brunello di Montalcino, has created for itself a strong personality on international wine markets based largely on the fact that it is a pure varietal wine.

“In these days when more and more countries are climbing on the wine production bandwagon it is more important than ever to have a distinctive identity, to make wine in a way which no one else on earth can emulate.”

Belfrage added that such a decision suggesting that Bordeaux or Burgundy add Syrah or Sangiovese to their appellations would never be considered so why should it be in Tuscany?

“I am aware,” he continued, “that a lot of Merlot and Cabernet are planted in the Montalcino growing zone, and that there may be a need in the short term to find a commercial use for these grapes.

“But there are the options of St. Antimo or IGT Toscana. Perhaps, instead of compromising the purity of one of Montalcino’s unique wines, there should be more effort in the direction of promoting these other wine-types.”

One Response to “Italian winemakers consider new varieties”

  1. Mario Crosta says:

    Nicolas Belfrage is leading a campaign to resist a damaging current proposal. In this case I wrote on the Franco’s blog and on the Jeremy’s blog that I will not express still my opinion on two posts dedicated to the letter of Nicolas. I appreciate the letter of Nicolas, but at the same time condemn his call to vote “NO” and the Ziliani’s appeal to send You an email to adhesion. To me it’s completely right to express their evaluations, also welcomed the foreign guests (I encouraged some of they to write their comment), but this atmosphere of NO or YES, to divide us into good children and bad children as in asylum, it’s nonsense. I had a long correspondence with a well-known producer of Brunello, very pleasant and fruitful (as I hope); we have not concealed anything as true friends, but I do not allow its publication until voting took place and validated in order not to put now my finger in an open wound.

    As well written Nelle Nuvole on Ziliani’s blog, “In pending further information, developments, messages and anything else excited I would reiterate that the greatest risk, even more dangerous to change the specification pr Rosso di Montalcino is to create a rift among the various producers . So to make them more vulnerable, insecure, fearful of the future. And have them continue to fight among themselves, instead of finding a system of union that would strengthen the importance of Montalcino wines, made with Sangiovese grapes from the hills of Montalcino “. This is the problem.

    On must come to an agreement and I have proposed the following position, which is mine and I hope tey are considering.

    Rosso di Montalcino must be DOCG Superiore and not stay two or three variants of the DOC as Rivella’s proposal.
    My proposal is this: extract a Rosso di Montalcino DOCG Superiore from DOC Rosso di Montalcino, and this DOC will be emptied. It does not seem quite complicated, since it was adopted by Superior Aglianico del Vulture, Asolo Prosecco Superiore, Barbera d’Asti Superiore Barbera del Monferrato Superiore, Bardolino Superiore, Superiore Cesanese Piglio, Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Dolcetto di Dogliani Higher Dolcetto di Ovada Superior, Soave Superiore, Superiore di Valdobbiadene Cartizze, Valtellina Superiore, Vermentino di Gallura Superiore and in all Italy, not only in Tuscany. It was “complicated” for they? No. Why must be complicated to Montalcino?

    With this new DOCG would be more out specific areas of production, minimum number of plants per hectare, the form of new plant breeding, training system still permitted to existing plants, type of pruning of buds per hectare, maximum yield of grapes per hectare in specialized cultivation, consent to any emergency irrigation, winemaking and bottling site, maximum yield of grapes into wine, prohibition of practice of forcing, threshold increased alcohol content, standards for labeling. Exactly what was done in all other DOCG extracted from a previous DOC on the whole Italian territory.

    As in those cases, moreover, even the DOC “Rosso di Montalcino” current may remain in force and therefore be deprived of the single variety (of which just only 100% Sangiovese would be included into the “Rosso di Montalcino DOCG Superiore”) and therefore would be suitable to all other types of reds that are currently included in Sant’Antimo DOC (and just extract all with the same writing, without changing a comma, only the name). The DOC Sant’Antimo then remain only for white wines and vin santo. Rivella could be content, calm down, the Banfi could sign an arbitration award in which undertakes to stop pestering (because it is quite isolated), or another election of new President and I hope that he will be a negotiator capable, out of all the parties perennial contention.

    However, I do not like the proposal Rivella absolutely diction: why should it be found an inscription, a symbol, to be affixed on the label for the wine of those intending to make pure? Is not they who have to change a damn thing, if anything are those that add other varieties that should declare, such as writing, how, in what percentages, and undergo the same rules of control which is subject Brunello di Montalcino, including analysis of DNA, to verify that the addition is only one authorized, permitted, and the exact percentage is not exceeded. Furthermore, it should finally fix the downstream controls, those that allow self-control, directly between producers. This fact should have the right to buy bottles of wine on the market which they consider suspicious, analyze them, and transmit information to the Consortium. So even most of the allegations, winks, gossip about the wines of his colleagues are uniformly scaled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters