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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
2 Jun 2008

The assembly of producers of the beleaguered Brunello di Montalcino zone has decided to have all wines analysed before they are allowed the DOCG. A new, three-person Guarantee Board will define the analytical parameters and operating tools to guarantee that not a drop of any variety other than Sangiovese is allowed into any wine sold as Brunello di Montalcino. The Board, we are assured, will consult "internationally famous specialised technicians in the wine-growing, agriculture and biology sectors" in order to ensure the following:

  • Sangiovese exclusively
  • wine-growing techniques, from vineyard to cellar, conform to the regulations
  • proper ageing in wood and bottle according to the rules
  • true geographical provenance of the wine

It is surely not coincidental that these measured have been announced, with a speed uncommon in the Italian regulatory framework, just in time for next week's visit to Siena by a delegation from the TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) in the US, the most lucrative export market for Brunello. Until the TTB's demands are met, the 2003 vintage will not be allowed into the American market.

Rather amazingly perhaps, this is the first initiative of its kind in Italy. I'm not sure the English version of the press release from the Consorzio about these new controls, described as "epoch-making on the Italian wine-growing scene", quite reads as it should:

"For the first time in Italy the producers of the consortium decide to adopt technologies and analytical methods to guarantee quality and respect for the DOCG (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantita) label."

But perhaps the writing was on the wall that Italian is not the most precise language where wine laws are concerned when in 1984 (the worst vintage in living memory incidentally) the Italians introduced the DOCG denomination to trump the already common DOC one. The new, super denomination was designed so that the authenticity of the wine was not just Controlled, but Guaranteed.