Sunday, March 08, 2009


From the dark fog of last year's Brunello scandal, Banfi has emerged sagacious and smelling as sweet as the rose petal and raspberry bouquet found in their Rosa Regale sparkler. For those of you who might not know, Banfi, as well as many other producers, came under fire from Italian authorities who claimed that varietals other than Sangiovese were being blended into Brunello di Montalcino. A violation of DOCG regulations, the accusation led to the US government blocking Brunello importation, a formal investigation, and a "wine headache" for all involved. Lab tests eventually cleared Banfi of any impropriety.

Instead of letting this be a thorn in the side, it has given charismatic Christina Mariani-May, the family proprietor and face of Banfi, the perspicacity to take on new challenges. The biggest of them all is the release of a new terrior-driven wine, BelnerO.

BelnerO Proprietor's Reserve 2005 is the debut vintage and retails at approximately $39 a bottle. It is made primarily of Sangiovese with small amounts of Cabernet and Merlot mixed in and has an alcohol content of 13.5%. Dark red in color, the wine is smooth, soft, and forward drinking. On the nose and palate, there's ample vanilla oak, black cherry, and mocha. It is an 88+ point effort that is ready to drink now but still has cellar aging potential. The wine is nitrogen bottled to minimize sulfites and unfiltered. It also underwent a unique patented fermentation process. The fruit is gravity fed into fermenters with French oak staves inside, but the cap and base are made of stainless steel. This allows for the best of both worlds. The must is able to to absorb oxygen and flavor from the oak, while the stainless steel allows for temperature control, health, and cleanliness.

The thirty year history of Banfi has also yielded a new book, The Pursuit of Excellence, which is a journey through the research, technology, and resources that led to the development of the "dark beauty" BelnerO.

Christina, who is as approachable as the wines she makes, has set forth to embrace the New World generation of wine by honoring Old World elegance, family tradition and values. Banfi was also awarded by the International Standardization Organization, the distinguished honor of being the first winery in the world certified for exceptional environmental, social, ethical and customer satisfaction.

What all of this means for the consumer is that Banfi's time honored dedication to excellence will allow for great Italian wines to continue to be brought to the marketplace.

The book is available for purchase from the Online Store at, in addition to other online retailers, including


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