It would seem that the editors at Decanter and Gambero Rosso spoke too soon when they reported that Brunello di Montalcino great Franco Biondi Santi (below, photo via Weintipps) supported proposed changes to the Rosso di Montalcino appellation that would allow for blending of international grape varieties in Rosso di Montalcino (current legislation requires that Rosso di Montalcino be made with 100% Sangiovese grapes).
Last week, both publications cited him as a supporter of Brunello producers association president Ezio Rivella’s campaign to modernize the appellation. But evidently, neither contacted Biondi Santi — the grandson of the creator of Brunello di Montalcino and a towering figure in the history of the appellation — for comment.
“Three years ago I was in favor of the addition of softening wines or grapes to Sangiovese for Rosso di Montalcino,” said Biondi Santi in a phone interview today with one of Italy’s leading wine writers and top wine blogger Franco Ziliani, who quotes the signore del Brunello on his blog Vino al Vino. “Today, things have changed and my position is no to any change to the appellation.”
The proposed changes, he noted, would allow producers to transform 500 hectares of unsellable Sant’Antimo and IGT Toscana into Rosso di Montalcino.
“We would enter into the same thicket as 1966,” said Biondi Santi, “when the appellation ‘Vino Rosso dai Vigneti di Brunello’ was created.” [editor's note: this appellation was changed to Rosso di Montalcino fifteen years later] “In the fall of 1966, Montalcino was obligated to found the Brunello Consortium, which became operative on January 1, 1967, with my father. After three months of negotiations with other producers, we decided not to enter the consortium because we strongly disapproved of how it was taking advantage of an equivocation at the time: the grape variety was also called Brunello and it was considered a subvariety of Sangiovese! Therefore, a no is indispensable in order to clarify.”