During my last semester of college, I was fortunate to take a restaurant management class that acquainted me with a completely new area of law. My professor assigned an article from The New York Times about the alleged fraudulent production of Brunello di Montalcino using grapes other than the Sangiovese varietal. (Read more about my introduction to wine and the law here.) One year later, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Montalcino during a trip to the Emilia-Romagna region. The visit was as much inspirational as it was breathtaking and alluring. After returning home, and while feeding on memories from my trip, I decided to write about the legal aspects of the wine industry for a law review article. For me, Montalcino will always symbolize a personal inception to wine and law.
Argiano, Italian Wine Producer, Acquitted in Brunello di Montalcino Trial
The above story is why, to this day, I still feel particularly captivated when I hear about Montalcino—especially in relation to wine law.
Recently, some new developments to the above mentioned Brunello scandal have emerged. In May of this year, a Siena court acquitted Argiano, an Italian wine producer, of charges brought against the company for alleged adulteration of wine. The Giudice del Tribunale di Siena reasoned that there was “no evidence” to support the claim that the Italian wine producer adulterated its wines labeled as 100% Sangiovese with subordinate varietals. See Argiano Acquitted in ‘Brunellogate’ Trial. According to Vias, the winery’s U.S. importer, Argiano is “the only winery in Montalcino to be prosecuted, appeal, and be absolved of all charges.” Id.
Argiano was one of several wine producers in the Montalcino region of Italy who were accused of using grapes other than 100% Sangiovese in DOCG wines in 2008. (According to claims brought against several wineries, producers supposedly used inferior varietals including Lancellota, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. See Top 10 Wine Scandals: Caught Red Handed.) Seven wineries, including Argiano, were investigated by the Italian Treasury Department in 2007-2009 in response to the alleged fraudulent production of wine in the Montalcino region. See Brunello Scandal: Argiano Acquitted of Adulteration; see also Argiano Acquitted of All Charges in Brunello Wine Scandal. The acquittal comes as great news to Argiano, which was recently sold to a group of Brazilian investors. See Montalcino Producer Jubilant After Brunellogate Acquittal.
Photograph property of Lindsey A. Zahn.