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Gaja: relax Brunello rules on Sangiovese

Italian winemaker Angelo Gaja has said that Brunello should operate a two-tier system and allow other varieties other than Sangiovese.

As the Brunello grape blending furore continues, the veteran Piedmont producer – who also makes Brunello di Montalcino – has suggested DOC Brunello should move on and no longer demand the wine is made from 100% Sangiovese.

In an article published this month in Italian newspaper Libero and local Tuscan paper La Nazione, Gaja says that if indeed Brunello producers have been adding other grapes illegally to the wine, then those producers should have been lobbying to get the appellation rules changed.

‘If the current investigations…should demonstrate the use of varieties different from Sangiovese for the production of Brunello di Montalcino, then the gravest error on the part of producers would have been… the fact that no-one moved to modify the appellation production rules in a timely way and remove the iron rule of 100% Sangiovese.’

Gaja believes Brunello producers who use 100% Sangiovese should be allowed to say so on their labels, while volume producers could operate with greater flexibility.

Both wines should be allowed to use the Brunello di Montalcino name, he says.

Gaja also leaps to the defence of Banfi, whose wines were at the centre of the scandal which broke earlier this year.

He says Brunello’s success was the result of a synergy between artisanal and volume producers – embodied by the historic leadership of Franco Biondi Santi and the marketing expertise of Banfi.

After early errors, he argued, Banfi had become the ‘driving force’ of the appellation, creating a demand for Brunello in the US which soon spread around the world.

Gaja’s comments follow reports earlier this month in La Nazione that grapes other than Sangiovese had been found in Banfi Brunello confiscated by investigators. The company has dismissed the reports and questioned the reliability of the analysis.

Written by Richard Woodard

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