Brunello wine scandal
Brunellopoli and Brunellogate are two of the names given by the Italian and English language press to the Brunello wine scandal involving producers of Brunello di Montalcino under suspicion of wine fraud.
In 2008, reports surfaced that an investigation had begun into allegations that some Brunello winemakers had secretly and illegally added different grape types into wines that should, by law, be made with 100% Sangiovese.
At one time over 100, around half of all Brunello wineries were under some form of investigation, known as ‘Operation Mixed Wine’. Vineyards were quarantined and hundreds of thousands of bottles were seized by officials for testing. 20% of the 6.7 million litres of 'Brunello di Montalcino' that were impounded were declassified to Toscana Rosso IGT.
At the time several prominent wineries admitted they were under investigation, including Argiano, Antinori, Castello Banfi and Frescobaldi.
In October 2008, Brunello producers voted to retain the 100% Sangiovese rule with only 4% voting to change the production code.
Seventeen people were originally indicted in the Operation Mixed Wine investigation for ‘cheating in commercial transactions’ and ‘falsely certified public documents’ with all but seven managing successful plea bargaining.
One of the seven was Argiano, who in 2013, was formally acquitted of adulteration because ‘there was no evidence to support the charges’.