Top 10 wine scandals17th August, 2011 by Rupert Millar
Caught red handed
In 2008 (a good year for wine fraud), Italy was hit by scandal when it emerged that producers in Montalcino were liberally adulterating their – supposedly pure – Sangiovese wines with the inferior Lancellota normally used for making Lambrusco.
The claim was first made by Italian journalist Gian Luca Mazzella. He also claimed that eminent consultant Carlo Ferrini, who consults for Casanova di Neri, was heavily involved in the practice.
Ferrini is still under investigation. Meanwhile, further probing found that one of the larger estates had been blending Merlot in with its Sangiovese for 25 years.
In total, 1.34 million litres of wine labelled as Brunello di Montalcino DOCG had to be declassified into the distinctly less grand Rosso di Toscana IGT.
The US market banned the wine for a large chunk of 2008. Although it was soon back on sale, its reputation undoubtedly suffered.
Investigations are on-going and no one has, as yet, been punished for the crime of flouting the labelling laws.
Another Italian scandal hit the headlines in 2000 when police raided a warehouse packed with over 20,000 bottles of “1995 Sassicaia”.
The fake bottles of the famous Super Tuscan were being hawked from the boot of a Peugeot by the side of the road by the gang’s ringleader. He was arrested along with his crew.