Montalcino; Farewell Palmucci! Farewell merlot?

A farewell to Palmucci! A farewell to merlot?

Palmucci and merlot; using these two concepts in one sentence is like blasphemy, but where else than in Montalcino are heaven and hell so close together?
Palmucci Goodbye! Goodbye merlot?
Where one era ends and the beginning of the end of another may have been stopped.

Poggio di Sotto, Heaven?
Piero Palmucci, the quirky owner of Poggio di Sotto, has sold his domain. With his departure from Montalcino an era ends in which he has left an indelible impression in the birthplace of Brunello. Indelible, but not always without controversy. Since its launch in 1989 Palmucci steadfastly refused to make any concessions whatsoever. He had a real vision, a clear mind and a firm belief that the style, quality and typiciteit of Brunello di Montalcino in general and his own in particular. Not but 100% sangiovese, only the very best fruit, no less than five years in large casks of the finest wood and always with one goal in mind: (his) Brunello di Montalcino to excel as one of the finest wines in the world. He brought a range of wines on the market that excelled in finesse, elegant and with a character which underline his commitment, personality, pride and conviction. His attitude and wines were not universally understood or appreciated, but who took the time and effort to listen to him and taste his wines, discover why his wines are among the finest ever made in Montalcino. The pure, ultimate expression of Sangiovese, Poggio di Sotto’s terroir, Palmucci’s effort and expertise  were reflected in an exemplary way in several outstanding wines, thanks to the talent of his acclaimed consultant, master taster Giulio Gambelli.

Palmucci, faced with physical discomfort and other restrictions made him sell Poggio di Sotto ((for 15,6 miljoen, is whispered in Montalcino). The new owner is Carmelo Claudio Tipa, who also owns Collemassari in Montecucco and Grattamacco in Castagneto Carducci. Montalcino will miss Palmucci, as an example, a symbol and a source of inspiration. Let’s hope that the style and quality of the wines of Poggio di Sotto is maintained.

Merlot, the hell?
In 2007 it was confirmed that (what many already knew, at least suspected, but was always denied, suppressed or ignored) many other grapes then Sangiovese were used in many Brunello di Montalcino. During the Benvenuto Brunello editions between 2000 and 2009 everyone could taste all kinds of variations: brunello with Cabernet, with Syrah, with Montepulciano, Petit Verdot, Nero d’Avola, Negroamaro and of course with Merlot. A judicial investigation brought to light a lot, but most of the facts remained in the shadows, because the defendant wineries made deals with the justice-department to avoid further studies, lawsuits and possible convictions. The conscious wineries continued to face a problem of tricky sangiovese wine, a grape that requires much knowledge, experience, hard work and conviction, if you want to make a real and great Brunello. Previously the wine could easily be corrected with other varieties, but strict controls now make it (almost) impossible. So, what about the many hecatres of vineyards with merlot and other grapes? At the moment they can only be used for wines with a commercially uninteresting classification like IGT Toscana or Sant’Antimo or DOC.
Some time ago there were elections for the new president of the Consorzio. Donatella Cinelli Colombini received the most votes, but resigned “voluntarily” to make way for Ezio Rivella, the man who made the wines of Banfi for many years. he was also the man who introduced many ‘foreign/international’ grapevarieties in the region. The Consorzio probably thought that Rivella, because of his knowledge, experience and relationship with the press and trade, could give Brunello di Montalcino a new impulse. One of his first achievements was a controversial interview, in which he directly and clearly argued for relaxing the rules regarding the composition of Brunello. Much criticism has made him more cautious after the comments at issue, but its function and purpose remained unchanged. Early February 2011, announced just moments before the meeting, he presented a proposal to simplify rules for Rosso di Montalcino. Many producers reacted angrily to the proposal, as it was seen as a step towards the degradation of the authenticity and uniqueness of Brunello di Montalcino. Overwhelmed by the extremely negative reactions to the proposal, it was hastily withdrawn. On September 7 it was back on the agenda, now better documented and announced somewhat earlier. Despite pressure from the major companies in the region, Rivella again had to back down. The proposal to include Rosso’s with up to 15% of other varieties was rejected by 69% of the votes. The question now is what the board of the Consorzio can do with a vast majority which doesn’t agree with it’s policies. It is clear that the vision of Rivella doesn’t agree with the interests of the majority of producers. Interesting because also a majority of national and international press has turned against the adjustment of the regulations.
Will undoubtedly be continued … …

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