Senior figures in Tuscany have indicated they may vote in favour of a motion to change the rules on blending in Rosso di Montalcino.
While Nicolas Belfrage MW, James Suckling, Jancis Robinson MW and many other critics decry the notion as heretical – it would ‘pollute’ Rosso to allow Merlot or Syrah into the blend, Robinson said – others disagree.
Franco Biondi Santi, one of Montalcino’s eminences grises, has not changed his position since he said nearly three years ago that blended Rosso di Montalcino could work.
‘Since I know the land of Montalcino very well,’ he emailed Decanter.com yesterday, ‘I can confirm that small additions of other vines (Merlot, etc…) could balance the wine in small percentages.’
Emilia Nardi, of Tenute Silvio Nardi, refused to say which way she would be voting when the Montalcino Consorzio meets on Wednesday, but agreed that ‘for some producers it can be helpful to add another variety’ in some circumstances.
‘Sangiovese is a difficult grape variety, and Rosso di Montalcino can be seen as a poor brother of Brunello. It is important to make good wine, just as it is important to respect tradition. It is a very difficult decision,’ she said. ‘I will decide how to vote at the last minute, after listening to all the arguments.’
Nardi did say that she thought making Rosso into a three-tiered denomination was ‘not necessary’.
‘It wouldn’t be helpful for the market – we need to present the wine as a simple idea.’
Other producers are set against change. Francesco Marone Cinzano of Col d’Orcia said today, ‘It is important to keep Rosso as unique as Brunello. Sangiovese is a recessive variety – it lets itself be overwhelmed – so Rosso would quickly lose its identity.’
Next Wednesday , members of the Consorzio will vote on whether to change to a two-tier or three-tier denomination for Rosso di Montalcino, one tier of which in each case would allow international varieties in the blend.
Some – like journalist Jeremy Parzen on his blog dobianchi.com – argue that this is a fait accompli as ‘the option not to change the appellation regulations is not on the table.
In fact, Decanter.com understands, the first vote on Wednesday is to decide on whether or not to change the denomination. The substance of the changes will be decided after that.
Written by Adam Lechmere