Last Monday, I met with Hans Vinding Diers, winemaker at Argiano, one of the Brunello producers first implicated of adultering their wines. He was in town for a trade tasting with his importer, Vias.
Diers, who seemed upfront and sincere, told me how the governments financial police, the Guardia di Finanza, on behalf of the local Magistrate (prosecutor), overflew Argianos vineyards last December. Presumably they were looking for Merlot vines. But the vines are dormant in the Winter. There is no vine foliage and without the foliage, how can one, asks Diers, distinguish a Sangiovese vine from a Merlot vine? It’s not possible, he claims – and he’s correct.
As of this date, there has been no concrete evidence of adulteration or fraud. So is this a witch hunt? If so, why?
Speaking with several Brunello producers, one hears grumblings about a disgruntled top producer, Gianfranco Soldera, whose wine supposedly failed to gain the necessary DOCG designation in 2002 and 2003. In anger against the Brunello Consortium, he allegedly wrote several letters to his good friend, the Sienna Magistrate, who subsequently enlisted the Guardia di Finanza to prosecute a case against member producers of the Consorzio.
I’m working to substantiate these rumors but I’m beginning to lose interest in this Opera.