Brunello di Montalcino

History of Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello di Montalcino, today, is without great doubt. the greatest expression of the Sangiovese, the most widely bred grape variety in Italy, and undisputed king of Tuscan viticulture.

But Montalcino's winemaking history began well before Brunello: traces of it can be found as early as 1550, when the Bolognese friar Leandro Alberti, in his "Descrittione di tutta Italia," wrote that Montalcino was "... much named in the country for li buoni vini chi si cavano da quelli ameni colli ...".

In 1553, during the siege of the Spanish troops commanded by Don Garcia of Toledo of the city, Marshal de Montluc, commander of the Sienese Garrison, "He would arrub his face with a robust vermilion wine".

Even in the seventeenth century, there are many chronicles and travel books about Montalcino wine, although at that time the most popular was its white, mentioned by the Dutch Francesco Scoto in his famous guidebook "Itinera Italiane", the most popular travel manual of the century, : "... Montalcino, famous for its Moscadelli ...".

To get to a "scientific" approach, both from an agronomic and enological point of view, we have to leap forward almost three centuries, and arrive at the mid-nineteenth century, when Clemente Santi, Giuseppe Anghirelli, Tito Costanti and Camillo Galassi deepen studies of grapes and winemaking systems.

A key step in arriving at the Brunello we know today, Codified in the second half of the century by Ferruccio Biondi Santi, who first vinified Sangiovese by himself and aged that wine for long years in barrels: thus was born a strong, velvety wine, resembling in nothing to other more renowned aging reds, called Brunello, most likely, because of its color.

The oldest bottle, preserved by Tenuta il Greppo, dates back to 1888, but that intuition was espoused, studied and improved by a small group of Montalcino winemakers and families: Colombini, Franceschi and Angelini, the only ones to bottle it at the time besides the Biondi-Santi, but also Costanti and Padelletti (Guido, a professor of law at the University of Rome, had shared Garibaldi's struggles with Ferruccio Biondi Santi), On a growth path that came to a halt in the second half of the 1930s., when phylloxera brought the entire Italian viticulture to its knees.

That to see the light again he had to wait for the 1960s and 1970s: In 1966 came Doc recognition, and the following year, April 18, 1967, the Consorzio del Brunello di Montalcino.

Fame, by this time, had abundantly crossed national borders, but the real boom would take a few more years: in the 1980s and 1990s, investment and commercial efforts multiplied, techniques of the quintessential pure Sangiovese are still being refined, which becomes what we know today, which is one of the greatest, most sought-after and award-winning wines in the world.

Curiosities about Brunello di Montalcino

A grandeur that also rests on the Great aging capacity of the Brunello di Montalcino, a characteristic that emerged as early as the late nineteenth century, but in the last seventy years put into system by the Brunello Consortium itself, with an assessment that highlights the best vintages, those with "five stars." 

Going backward, but not too far, it is the 1990 vintage that marked a real watershed: vintage judged outstanding, and international boom on the wings of Wine Spectator's legendary Top 100 in 1995, the most eagerly awaited ranking in the wine world, where Brunello labels furno as many as 6: Conti Costanti (53), Castello Banfi (49), Mastrojanni (34), Caparzo (22), Altesino (12) and Campogiovanni (7). 

This was not the first time for Brunello in the U.S. magazine's chart, the first was Biondi-Santi, with the 1982 Reserve (at position 54 in 1988), in 1990, with the 1985 vintage, it was the turn of Poggio Antico (4), Roberto Cosimi-Il Poggiolo (54) and Castello Banfi (76), and many other labels have found their way in, with the summit, never to be reached again, achieved in the 2006 from Brunello di Montalcino 2001 Tenuta Nuova di Casanova di Neri

And it was Neri's own Casanova, again with the Tenuta Nuova, this time together with another Montalcino label, the Marroneto, with the Madonna delle Grazie, that first won the 100/100 rating from Robert Parker, the American guru of world wine criticism and creator of one of its most authoritative publications, "The Wine Advocate". 

But it doesn't end there, because over the years Brunello's most precious labels have also become stars of the auction world, both Italian and international: in 2018 a bottle of Biondi Santi's Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1955 fetched 4,316 euros.

Technical specifications.

As can be read on the Consortium's website, "Brunello di Montalcino is a visually clear, bright wine with a lively garnet color.

It has an intense, persistent, broad and ethereal aroma. Hints of underbrush, aromatic wood, small fruits, light vanilla and composite jam are recognizable.

On the palate the wine has elegant and harmonious body, backbone and breed, and is dry with long aromatic persistence."

Because of its characteristics, and as we have well seen, we are talking about a wine that endures long aging, and indeed expresses the best of itself a few years after release (from January of the fifth year after the harvest), and can evolve and improve for many more years.

Obviously, should be stored in the right way, in a cool environment, at a constant temperature, and with the bottles absolutely lying down.

Production Regulations of Brunello di Montalcino

Production area: Historical boundary of the municipality of Montalcino.

Grapevine: Sangiovese (referred to, in Montalcino, as "Brunello")

Maximum grape yield: 80 quintals per hectare

Yield of grapes in wine: 68%

Minimal aging in wood: 2 years in oak

Minimum bottle aging: 4 months (6 months for the Riserva type)

Color: Deep ruby red tending to garnet with aging

Smell: Characteristic and intense fragrance

Flavor: Dry, warm, somewhat tannic, robust and harmonious

Minimum alcohol content: 12.5% Vol.

Minimum total acidity: 5 g/lt

Minimum net dry extract: 24 g/lt

Bottling: Can only be carried out in the production area

Release for consumption: After 5 years from the year of harvest (6 years for the Reserve type)

Packaging: Brunello di Montalcino may be placed on the market only when packaged in Bordeaux-shaped bottles