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Critics see red over early Brunello previews

Previews of the 2007 Brunello di Montalcino vintage for the 'privileged few' have sparked fury among wine critics and bloggers.

*Suckling says he will continue to provide tasting notes early

It has been revealed that a number of wine publications and critics have been allowed to taste the 2007 vintage before the official presentation at Benvenuto Brunello during the third week of February.

An open letter to the president of the Brunello Consorzio penned by Polish wine critic, Wojciech Bonkowski, expresses their ‘discontent and indignation’ at the previews.

The latest outburst follows the lead of French wine critic Michel Bettane, who published an open letter to the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (UGC) in March 2011, describing as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘disrespectful’ the practice of allowing selected journalists to taste and publish wine scores before the official start of the Bordeaux en primeur week.

Wine critic James Suckling was one of the select few to preview both the 2010 Bordeaux vintage and the 2007 Brunello vintage before the rest of the wine trade. He told decanter.com: ‘I have always tasted the new vintage of Brunellos the week they are legally available in bottle and with their DOCG seals.

‘I don’t understand why other wine critics are upset about people tasting earlier than organised press tastings or events.’

Despite recent attacks, Suckling will again taste the 2011 Bordeaux vintage before the official en primeur week. ‘I have been going the same time for the last 15 years. My readers have grown accustomed to me providing tasting notes early to them over the past 30 years as a wine critic. So I am continuing that as always,’ he added.

Decanter’s consultant editor Steven Spurrier said: ‘I would have thought that the wine writing community can be indignant when James Suckling tastes all the Bordeaux vintage a week before anyone else, as these wines are sold en primeur. This is not the case for Brunello 2007, so if there is a storm, it should be, in my view, in a tea cup.’ 

Written by Rebecca Gibb

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