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Brunello may change ratings system

The Brunello di Montalcino Consorzio is considering changing the way the official rating for Brunello is decided.

The rating is decided by a group of 20 prominent oenologists from Montalcino, chosen by the Consorzio. The group assigns a star rating to the previous year’s vintage every February.

But there has been widespread criticism of the four-star mark given to Brunello 2003, released earlier this year. Critics and consumers are asking how 2003 could have received the same high rating as far superior vintages.

‘2003 was not a four star vintage,’ boutique producer Piero Palmucci said.

Critics speculate that the excessively hot vintage was hyped in Montalcino to compensate for the disastrous 2002 vintage, which was marked by torrential rains at harvest time.

‘Though I’m satisfied with my 2003, I can’t compare this vintage to the 1999s or to the extraordinary 2001s, both of which also received four stars,’ Palmucci said.

Francesco Marone Cinzano, President of Brunello’s Consorzio and owner of Brunello producer Col d’Orcia, told decanter.com, ‘It is a fair point, and one the Consorzio is taking very seriously and is looking into.’

He said that no decision has been made, but the Consorzio was considering postponing the annual assessment.

‘One idea we are thinking about is to assign Brunello’s rating a year after the harvest, when the wine has spent nearly a year in wood, and to coincide with the release of Rosso di Montalcino from the same vintage.

‘The panel appraises Brunello in January, about four months after the harvest. The wine will not be released for five years: at this stage it is still undergoing its secondary fermentation and is very difficult to evaluate.’

He added that Sangiovese is a grape that starts to show its potential only after one or two years in barrel.

  • The Brunello denomination is still reeling from the ongoing investigation into non-compliance with the wine’s production code. Some producers’ Brunello 2003s remain impounded while the prosecutor decides if anyone has illegally blended with Sangiovese, the only variety allowed for Brunello, or not respected yields.

    In an effort to further tighten controls on Brunello and guarantee the wine’s quality and authenticity, Marone Cinzano revealed ‘the Consorzio has just engaged a former director of the Food Fraud Repression Office. Dr Capretti, a Professor of wine legislation at the University of Pisa will oversee strict controls over Brunello producers and will create a new structure that will guarantee that producers are adhering to protocol.’

    Marone Cinzano added that part of the overhaul would include more laboratory analysis of Brunello before being commercially released.

    Written by Kerin O’Keefe

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