It may only be February, but the year’s third Italian wine scandal is upon on us.
In January, two Prosecco makers were caught chaptalizing (adding sugar to increase alcohol content) grape must. Earlier this month, more than 50 producers were investigated for mislabeling bottles. Now, authorities in Florence and Cremona have discovered around 11,000 fake bottles of “Super Tuscan” wine label Antinori Toscana Tignanello.
According to Italian media reports (later confirmed by Wine Spectator), police last week apprehended three suspects: Matteo Fazzi, 31; Maria Alessandra Morini, 57; and Sergio Papa, 54. Suspects were identified prior to the bottles being distributed.
At least six other individuals are also believed to be involved in the scheme, which targeted Italy, Germany, and Belgium as markets for the fraudulent bottles.
Speaking to Wine Spectator, Alessia Antinori, vice president of Marchesi Antinori, said the fakes were labeled as 2009, 2010, and 2011 Tignanello, but contained low-quality wine. The plot comes despite recent efforts from Marchesi Antinori to combat counterfeiting.
“Starting with the 2013 vintage, we put the embossed logo [on the bottle],” she said. “With the 2015 vintage we added the embossed ‘Tignanello’ name and since 2016 we have been using a small label on the bottles to defend against counterfeiting.”
If the name Tignanello sounds familiar for reasons other than being a prestigious “Super Tuscan,” you might remember it for being Meghan Markle’s favorite wine, as well as the inspiration for her (now-retired) lifestyle blog, “The Tig.”