€1 million DOCG scam hits top Tuscan wine

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Police seized a total of 165,467 litres of fake Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wine, worth an estimated €1 million. Photo: Guardia di Finanza
12:44 CEST+02:00
Finance Police in Siena have seized 160,000 litres of Tuscan wine falsely labelled as Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wine, which are among Italy’s most prestigious and expensive wines.

Finance Police on Tuesday said they had seized a total of 165,467 litres of fake Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino wine. The total haul is thought to be worth €1 million.

Great quantities of inferior wine has allegedly been passed off - between 2011 and 2013 – as the real thing. Police are currently investigating a consultant to several vineyards and various people who work in the wine industry in the Montalcino area.

The consultant faces charges of false advertising, embezzlement, fraud and unauthorized access to a computer system.

Working in collaboration with the Inspectorate for the Suppression of Fraud (ICQRF), the police uncovered a total of 75,620 litres of Brunello di Montalcino, 89,847 litres of Rosso di Montalcino and 2,350 fake labels.

The alarm was raised following a report by the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium wine cellars.

Produced in the vineyards surrounding the town of Montalcino in Tuscany, Brunello is one of Italy’s most famous and expensive wines, often selling for several hundred euros a bottle.

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In 1980 it was awarded the first “Controlled and guaranteed designation of origin” (DOCG), a quality assurance label for Italian food products. The name Brunello, which is a diminutive of Bruno, or brown, comes from the individual grape variety grown in Montalcino.

Rosso di Montalcino comes from the same area. It was awarded "controlled designation of origin" (DOC) status in 1984.

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