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Chianti: 9m bottles seized in fraud investigation

The equivalent of over 9m bottles of Chianti Classico has been seized by Italian authorities from top Tuscan estates including Ruffino as part of a fraud inquiry.

Ruffino is one of the main estates involuntarily involved in the massive police sequestration which totals some 70,000h/l (hectolitres) of Chianti Classico DOCG.

Piero Conticelli, owner of Cavico, a company based outside Florence, is accused of defrauding other Chianti Classico producers by selling vast quantities of wine purporting to be Chianti Classico produced outside the DOCG denomination between the years 2001-2004.

Conticelli, who is currently under arrest for fraud, owns 200ha of Chianti Classico vines, spread over several Chianti Classico estates, including Il Mandorlo.

Ruffino, one of the region’s major producers, currently has its entire Chianti Classico stock of 2.5m bottles under lock and key in its Pontassieve cellars

‘We were Cavico’s biggest clients, having purchased 12,000 hectolitres over the last four years,’ said Adolfo Folonari, Ruffino’s MD. ‘We are collaborating with the police to trace the batches of wine which have been used partly in the assemblage of some of our in-house Chianti Classico wines. Until then all our production of Chianti Classico will remain on hold.’

In addition to Ruffino, other Chianti Classico estates are under inquiry although their names have not been released.

According to Giuseppe Liberatore, director of the Consorzio Chianti Classico, it is the consortium’s job to defend its members from illegal production and wine scams.

‘However, until the verdict is given, we are not pointing our finger at anyone,’ he said.

NB 1 hectolitre = 100 litres = 133 bottles

Written by Michèle Shah

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