The Brunello di Montalcino is not just a wine; it's an emblem of Italian winemaking craftsmanship. Originating from the captivating Tuscan hills of Montalcino, this wine is the result of a unique synergy between climatic factors, soil attributes, and human passion. In this article, we'll delve into the world of Brunello, unveiling the secrets that make it an unparalleled and universally esteemed wine.
The History of Brunello di Montalcino
The allure of Brunello di Montalcino is as captivating as the wine itself. Native to Tuscany, it's in Montalcino that the Sangiovese grape reaches its pinnacle. Brunello emerged in the 19th century when visionary families and producers recognized the unique potential of the local soil. Figures like Clemente Santi were instrumental in the growth of the denomination. The first "award-winning" Brunello was his 1863 vintage, honored in 1865, marking the beginning of a golden era for both the wine and the region. In 1966, Brunello received the DOC certification and in 1980 the DOCG, reinforcing its reputation and imposing rigorous quality standards. These certifications have solidified its status as one of the most prestigious wines internationally.
The Climate: An Ally of Brunello
Montalcino's climate is typically Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. These climatic conditions favor a balanced maturation of the Sangiovese grape, locally known as Brunello. Rainfall is mainly concentrated in spring and autumn, providing the necessary natural irrigation for the vine.
The Sangiovese of Montalcino: A Masterpiece of Nature
In the lands of Montalcino, Sangiovese takes on a particular form, known as Brunello or Sangiovese Grosso. This variety is distinguished by its dense-skinned grapes, which give rise to wines rich in fruity aromas, well-defined tannins, and an acidity that ensures longevity. These elements allow Brunello to age for decades, reaching unparalleled levels of excellence.
The Terroir: The Soul of Brunello
Sangiovese thrives in an exceptional environment in Montalcino. The soil, rich in calcareous elements, and a temperate climate contribute to shaping a wine with a robust tannic structure and an aromatic bouquet that ranges from fruity to spicy notes. This complexity allows Brunello to age beautifully, maintaining a freshness and dynamism that sets it apart from other Sangiovese-based wines.
Traditional vs Modern Brunello
Over the years, a sort of "dualism" has developed in the world of Brunello, as in many others: on one side are the "traditionalists," who age their wines solely through micro-oxygenation and thus use Slavonian oak without toasting. On the other side are the "modernists," who use tonneaux or barriques to impart a softness along with faster evolution. Both styles have their merits and contribute to the richness and diversity of Brunello.
If you're fascinated by the world of Brunello and wish to explore further, here's a selection of five Brunellos you'll find in our online store:
The Brunello Fattoria la Lecciaia is an exceptional Brunello, made from Sangiovese grapes. Harvested between September and October, the vinification process in stainless steel is followed by an extended aging in Slavonian oak barrels and then in the bottle. Known for its robustness, tannic structure, and good aging potential, it is especially prized for its elegance. It pairs well with roasted meats and aged cheeses but is also versatile enough to accompany pasta dishes or serve as a delightful end-of-meal glass.
This Brunello offers an olfactory bouquet rich in cherry, spices, and hints of vanilla. On the palate, it stands out for its full-bodied structure and soft tannins, making it an ideal companion for hearty dishes like roasts and game stews, as well as hard, aged cheeses. It's incredibly versatile, suitable for both structured dishes and special occasions.
Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG - La Lecciaia
The Brunello di Montalcino Riserva from Fattoria La Lecciaia is a Brunello that straddles tradition and modernity, elegance, and complexity. It offers a bouquet of cherry, spices, and violet. On the palate, it is full-bodied with soft tannins and remarkable aromatic persistence. The aging in small wooden barrels followed by larger barrels adds structure with notes of cedar and tobacco, making it ideal for a hearty Fiorentina steak and very structured cheeses.
The Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio Abate DOCG by La Poderina is elegant and complex, made with 100% Sangiovese Grosso grapes. Aged in small and then large wooden barrels, and finally in steel, it offers a bouquet rich in forest fruits, licorice, and tobacco. On the palate, it is soft with fine tannins and a persistent finish. Ideal for special occasions, it pairs well with red meat, especially game, and aged cheeses. It's also perfect as a meditation wine given its imposing structure.
The Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Manapetra Riserva DOCG by La Lecciaia is a traditional Brunello, aged in Slavonian oak and then in the bottle. It offers intense aromas of red fruits and spices. On the palate, it is dry and harmonious, ideal for pairings with game meats or lamb, or for aged cheeses, and perfect as a meditation wine.