Wine News From Italy: The Brunello Controversy

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Brunello is a red Italian wine varietal made from a specific clone of Sangiovese grapes and grown in the area surrounding the town of Montalcino in Tuscany. It was first developed in the 14th century and is one of the top Italian wines, and considered to be among one of the best in the world. However, it may be banned in the US. Why?

Some large producers of Brunello came under scrutiny because the land surveys showed that they couldn’t be yielding as much Brunello wine as they claim to have been, so the Italian government suspected the producers of adulterating the wine with other non-Brunello grapes. One million bottles of Brunello were seized by Italian police and are being tested for authenticity.

Being one of the top wines of the world, Brunello is expensive and can sell for as up to $500 a bottle or more. The US currently consumes 25% of all Brunello production, so this is no minor dispute. A ban on Brunello importation in the US can cause a dent in the businesses of Brunello winemakers. The US has given Italy until June 9th to sort out the situation and to hand over the names of the wine producers that are suspected of fraud. After June 9th, if the US and Italian governments cannot reach an agreement, the US will ban all Brunello wine imports that are unaccompanied by a laboratory certificate showing they are 100% Sangiovese. The Italians are working hard to sort out the issue as quickly as possible and hope to avoid a ban in the US.

In the meantime, wine consumers should expect to see price hikes on Brunello wine.