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8th March 2013 - Doubts surface over new Chianti classification

Friday 8 March 2013 by Anne Krebiehl

Chianti Classico producers need to grab the opportunity of the appellation's 'Gran Selezione' top tier – or the
new designation will remain an 'empty shell', they warn.

Gran Selezione is the new Chianti Classico tier above Riserva

Their comments come after the decision by the Chianti Classico Consorzio to introduce the new classification,
above Riserva, later this year, starting with wines from the 2010 vintage. Sebastiano Capponi of Villa Calcinaia,
in Greve, told that the new category represents ‘an opportunity to make a wine with 100%
proprietor’s grapes, linked to a winery and hopefully a specific vineyard’. But he added: ‘If producers decide
not to grab this opportunity, Gran Selezione will remain an empty shell.’

‘The new denomination should be based on the differences of the region, not on shortcuts that are an
end in themselves,’ said Vittorio Fiore of Poggio Scalette, also in Greve. ‘The fact that many producers have
chosen the IGT category for their top wines says a lot about the credibility of the DOCG.’

Tommaso Marrocchesi Marzi of Bibbiano in Castellina, however, is cautiously optimistic, saying: ‘I do not know
if Gran Selezione will be a Gran Successo [success] or just a Gran Casino [big mess]; only time will tell. ‘However,
it is the first true category in the appellation purposely made for estate-grown wines.’

Sergio Zingarelli, president of the Chianti Classico Consorzio, responded: ‘Gran Selezione will not create
any confusion. ‘Rather, our aim – which we are certain we’ll achieve with this new type of Chianti Classico
– is to give better order to
our denomination and further valorise our territory’s excellent wines.’

Earlier this week, Berry Bros & Rudd Italian wine buyer David Berry Green dismissed Gran Selezione as
‘bureaucratic tinkering’ and ‘more of a whimper’.

In June 2012, when the new classificaiton was initially announed, Paolo De Marchi of Isola e Olena voiced
concerns about the necessity of a new quality tier:  'People are already confused between Chianti and
Chianti Classico. I don't really see the need for a new category unless it relates directly to wines of origin.'


5th March 2013 - New top Chianti Classico category announced

Tuesday 5 March 2013 by Anne Krebiehl

Chianti Classico DOCG will have a new classification above Riserva wines called ‘Gran Selezione’, it has been announced.

Gran Selezione is likely to come into force later this year

Wines in the new top band within the Chianti Classico DOCG appellation must be produced solely from estate-grown
grapes and can only be sold 30 months after harvest, with a minimum of three months’ bottle age.

Sergio Zingarelli, president of the Chianti Classico Consorzio, said: ‘The Gran Selezione will not obscure the potential
and the characteristics of the Chianti Classico Riservas, but give more emphasis to the top-quality wines which are
already produced inside the Chianti Classico denomination.’

However, a leading buyer of Italian wines has dismissed the new classification as ‘more of a whimper’ and ‘bureaucratic

The comments in a blog by David Berry Green, Italian buyer with London wine merchant Berry Brothers & Rudd, label
the move as ‘bureaucratic tinkering without adding any real value to a product [the producers have] slavishly refined
over the years’.

Describing the announcement as a ‘more of a whimper’, Green said producers were already calling Gran Selezione a
‘Grand Casino’ (‘big mess’), even though the quality of Chianti Classico wines had ‘never been higher’.

He added: ‘The Consorzio are not offering a dramatic delimitation of vineyards, nor an unprecedented classification
of Grand or Premier Cru/Vigna sites, nor even of a study of the unique geological terroir that are (sic) at the heart
of the stylistical differences between Chianti Classico villages.’

Awaiting final approval by the Ministry of Agriculture, the Chianti Classico Cosorzio expects the new law to come
into effect later this year. Unreleased wines from the 2010 vintage will then qualify as Gran Selezione.


14th February 2013 - Galloni leaves Wine Advocate

Thursday 14 February 2013 by Richard Woodard

Antonio Galloni, lead critic of the Wine Advocate, is leaving the Robert Parker publication to start his own web venture,
citing ‘a strong desire to return to my entrepreneurial roots’.

The wine reviewer, once touted as the ‘heir apparent’ to the Parker empire, told the New York Times
that the move was also partly prompted by the sale of the Wine Advocate to a group of Asian investors,
which resulted in Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW being appointed editor-in-chief.

With the launch of, Galloni said he would continue to report on the wines of Italy,
Champagne, California and Burgundy, while expanding to cover other regions.

Describing the site as a ‘multimedia, technology-driven platform’, Galloni highlighted his introduction
of video coverage and public tastings at the Wine Advocate.

But he added: ‘At the same time, I felt a strong desire to return to my entrepreneurial roots, first
established with Piedmont Report in 2004.’

He went on to say, in a scarcely-veiled dig at the new regime at the Wine Advocate: ‘
represents the values and standards that I have demanded of myself for my entire career, namely genuine
independence and the steadfast belief in the importance of representing the interests of my readers.’

Galloni told the New York Times that the new site would be aimed at younger wine consumers, and would
aim to provide a ‘continuous flow’ of information, rather than focusing on long articles and big tastings.

When he was recruited to the Advocate by Parker in 2006, he added, it was with an understanding that
he would operate independently within the editorial team – but with the change of ownership and editorship,
‘it’s obviously clear that was going to change’.

Robert Parker sold a controlling stake in the Wine Advocate late last year to a group led by Soo Hoo Khoon
Peng, a former director of local wine business Hermitage Wine, for a reported US$15m.

In December, reported that Soo Hoo still has close ties with Hermitage.

Although Parker insists that the headquarters of the business remains in Maryland, US, the
magazine will in the future be run by Perrotti-Brown from offices in Singapore. was unable to contact the Wine Advocate's Maryland headquarters for comment.

11th February 2013 - Tenuta di Argiano sold

Monday 11 February 2013 by Monty Waldin

Montalcino estate Tenuta di Argiano, one of the largest Brunello producers, has been sold to a group of
international investors.

Owner Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano has announced the sale of her controlling interest in the estate.
No changes to the existing management have been made.

With production of around 120,000 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino, Tenuta di Argiano is among the
ten largest producers of Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino, exporting mainly to the UK, the US,
Denmark, Japan and Brazil.

The villa, one of Tuscany's most celebrated, was built in the Renaissance style and dates from the 1570s.

Countess Cinzano, the elder sister of Col d’Orcia owner Francesco Marone Cinzano, purchased the
then 20ha Argiano in 1992, soon after the family's eponymous vermouth firm had become part
of British drinks conglomerate IDV.

Argiano now comprises over 50ha of mainly Sangiovese ('Brunello') vineyards, including a 5ha
plot of massal selection Brunello dating from the 1950s some of the oldest vines in Montalcino.

Hans Vinding-Diers, Argiano’s winemaking consultant since the late 1990s, winemaker Adriano
Bambagioni and vineyard manager Francesco Monari will remain with Argiano.

Not part of the deal is Bodega Noemía de Patagonia, a 13ha mainly Malbec vineyard with two
small wineries in Argentina's Río Negro valley, founded in 2002 by Countess Cinzano and Vinding-Diers.

Countess Cinzano, who has two children in their mid-20s, said selling Argiano was ‘a difficult
decision emotionally but is the right one for my family and for me personally’.

‘It means I can retire to focus on Bodega Noemía. Argiano's new owners have a long-standing
passion for wine and are excited about developing my legacy. I hope and expect Argiano to
go organic and then biodynamic very quickly.’


18th January 2013 - Piedmont bows to California over Trinchero copyright tussle

Friday 18 January 2013 by Richard Woodard

Piedmont winery Trinchero has had to remove the family name from its wine labels in the US after facing a legal threat
from the maker of the Sutter Home brand, according to reports.
Piedmont Trinchero

The Italian Trinchero without the name [pic:Jeremy Parzen, Houston Press]

The website of the Houston Press said Trinchero Family Estates – the California-based maker of Sutter Home and Trinchero
Napa Valley – had written to Agliano Terme-based Trinchero threatening legal action.

Monica Riessent, export director at the Barbera d’Asti producer, told the site that the winery could not afford to fight
the American Trinchero in the courts.

‘They said that they’d allow us to sell our wine in the US,’ she told the site, ‘but they insisted on a number of restrictions
in the contract they sent: we could only sell a limited number of bottles … In the end, we knew that we couldn’t fight it.’

Neither Trinchero (Piedmont) nor Trinchero Family Estates could be reached for comment on the reports.


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