BANFI BRUNELLO WINES SET FREE
WINE PRODUCER Castello Banfi has been cleared of any wrongdoing in the Brunello di Montalcino fraud scandal. All of Banfi’s Brunello 2OO3 has been released by Italian police investigators after it was found to comply with production rules, the group announced. Banfi, which produces around 6OO,OOO bottles of Brunello annually, was one of several wineries caught up in a scandal over the Brunello 2OO3 vintage, released for sale this year. “This clearance closes the case for Castello Banfi Brunello,” said Banfi family proprietor, Cristina Mariani-May. “Our Brunello is liberated and we are pleased to continue the pursuit of excellence that we have always strived for.”
Fraud police impounded Brunello wine stocks this year following allegations that producers had supplemented their wines with grapes other than the designated Sangiovese variety. Wineries feared for the reputation of Brunello, previously voted one of the world’s best wines, and sales were jeopardized by US threats to introduce an import ban. Around a quarter of Brunello is exported to the US, whose authorities backed down after Italian ministers and Brunello’s producers’ council agreed on a new quality guarantee system. Early indications suggested sales have not been dented by the scandal. Sales of Brunello 2OO3 rose 47% for the first six months of 2OO8, the Consorzio Brunello di Montalcino told just-drinks in August.