God Save Montalcino!

Please Save Montalcino!

WARNING:  Cultural Identity Crisis Ahead!

Next week and group of Montalcino wine producers will meet to determine the fate of a thousand year old winemkaing tradition.  These people will single-handedly decide whether or not to allow a certain percentage of “other grapes” in to the blend of Rosso di Montalcino DOC.  The fate of Montalcino hangs in the balance.

This historic and proud DOC presently delineates a wine made from 100% Sangiovese, the autochthonous grape of the area.  This means that you, the consumer, can now with confidence purchase a bottle of the Rosso di Montalcino knowing that the grapes in the bottle are authentic, traditional, and therfore will taste something like the place from which they come.  Should this allowance for “other” grapes be made- next year you could be drinking Merlot!

Franco Ziliani and Jeremy Parzen both posted an incredible piece by the great Master of Wine, Nicolas Belfrage, which implores the community of Montalcino producers to vote NO.  I encourage you to leave your comments here and on their web pages.  This is an issue too serious to ignore.

Another traditionalist who took up the cause to protect the innocent.

At risk is not only the authenticity and overall quality of Rosso di Montalcino, but also the essence of Italian Culture.  Wine laws and denominations evolved to protect the fragile yet enduring heritage of a people and place.  The more future generations alter these guidelines, the more history we lose.

This is not to say Merlot and Syrah and other grapes cannot be grown and vinified successfully in Tuscany and elsewhere.  However this is what the “IGT” and “Vino de Tavola” designations were designed for.  Make whatever wine you wish- just please do not destroy the noble heritage of Montalcino’s DOCs.

I am honestly sad to hear that this issue is even up for debate.  As an Italian-American I have sought for my own roots in Italy, and have found it to be a country full with people proud of the past and their heritage.  There is still something Italian there for me to identify with- tradition, art, music, language.  When we begin to hide these pieces of history and tradition on a shelf somewhere it becomes impossible to bring them out again- we forget where we have put them and they are lost forever.

Join the debate– just don’t stay silent whatever you do, or Montalcino will never recover.  Stop the world from becoming a place where lovely, sprightly (sangiovese) Rosso di Montalcinos become thick and dark, like a cassis Slurpee.  This is a world where I don’t want to live!

As Jeremy Parzen puts it…

… especially in my Rosso di Montalcino!