Six indicted over Brunellogate


25 May – See Brunello indictments rumble on for the next instalment

As reported by Italian wine writer Franco Ziliani on his blog Vino al Vino and translated into English by Vinowire, the Siena prosecutor has released the names of the six people indicted in the Operation Mixed Wine investigation that led to the Brunello scandal of 2008 and 2009 known variously as Brunellopoli or Brunellogate. According to this statement released by Italian authorities in July 2009, 20% of the 6.7 million litres of 'Brunello di Montalcino' that were impounded have been declassified to Toscana Rosso IGT.

The defendants in the case have been accused of making false statements to public officials and of selling 'adulterated substances' and falsely labelled 'industrial products' that do not comply with the Brunello regulations. According to this report published 1 May 2010 in the Italian media, a total of 17 people were originally indicted and all but the six below managed successful plea bargaining with the prosecutors.

The result for these 11 individuals is that they have been able to sell their impounded wines (albeit with new labels in some cases) and incurred only minimal legal costs and a small fine. One has put their winery on the market.

The six who resisted the temptation to opt for this path of least resistance and are expected to appear before a judge in Siena for a preliminary hearing are:

Stefano Campatelli, director of the Brunello producers association (Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino) and member of the Brunello certification committee

Baldassarre Fanti, president of the Brunello producers association until 2007

Lamberto Frescobaldi, legal representative of the Castelgiocondo winery

Niccolò d'Afflitto, oenologist and production manager at Castelgiocondo

Giampiero Pazzaglia, legal representative of the Argiano winery

Paul Harri, ex-oenologist at the Banfi winery*

Harri has moved to Col d'Orcia winery so presumably Banfi are unwilling to pay to defend a former employee. Castelgiocondo and Argiano's policy has consistently been to deny any wrongdoing.

*18 May Jane Kettlewell of Banfi writes:  'I would like to clarify that Paul (aka 'Pablo') Harri in fact departed Castello Banfi in July 1999, and the Siena prosecutor’s Brunello investigation applies to the 2003 vintage onward, during which time Mr Harri was the winemaker for Col d’Orcia. The vintages Pablo Harri was involved in making at Castello Banfi are not, and never were, at issue with respect to the investigation. Exclusive association of Mr. Harri’s unfortunate indictment to his tenure at Banfi is misleading and the subsequent comment uncalled for.'