“A Sad Day in Montalcino” by Mike Tadich.

Mike Tadich and David Scott

I have written before about one of the people in the wine industry whose passion for Italian wine continues to inspire me everyday: Mike Tadich.  This morning I received an email he sent to all of his associates regarding the tragedy that has befallen Soldera in Montalcino.  I thought it was so heartfelt and so well-written I wanted to share it here…

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Good Morning All,

It is very sad time for wine world, specifically Italy and Montalcino.

 Vandalism without precedent in Montalcino. SIX vintages of Soldera’s Brunello di Montalcino “Case Basse” were recently destroyed in overnight attack.

 One must wonder at the connection- it was Gianfranco Soldera, owner of Soldera winery who “blew the whistle” that caused the “Brunello Scandal” a few years ago on the eve of Vinitaly regarding the grapes which are planted in Montalcino’s vineyards. Gianfranco is perhaps the most outspoken proponent to keep Brunello “pure” (100% Sangiovese Grosso). Due to his very public stance on the matter, some of his colleagues have been investigated for use of other than Sangiovese Grosso grapes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Colorino and others.

On the examination of Brunello’s “purity”… who is right and who is wrong? This question begs an understanding of Tuscany’s grape-growing history. Today one of the most important rules of the DOCG is that Brunello must be produced using 100% Sangiovese Grosso grapes. However, a great majority of Montalcino’s vineyards were planted before this DOCG mandate was developed.  100% Sangiovese- easier said than done! This is true all over Italy, where vineyards have historically been planted with different grape varieties. In Tuscany you will find Colorino, Canaiolo as well as international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Just as in Piemonte, where for example, you will find Barbera vines in Nebbiolo vineyards.

During my October trip to Montalcino I took this picture of a vineyard that belongs to rather famous producer of Brunello di Montalcino. According to another equally distinguished producer, “You don’t need DNA analysis to know that the red colored leaves of the grape vines in this Brunello vineyard belong to Colorino”.

Montalcino, Mike Tadich

Again, the questions of Brunello’s “purity” and the history of multi-varietal vineyards in Italy are both interesting and compelling.  However none of that is an excuse for this level of aggressive vandalism– none of that is an excuse to open the valves and drain off 60,000 liters (75,000 bottles) of wine.  A terrible loss of 6 years of one man’s life’s work.

Mike Tadich, Italian Wine Specialist