Brunello di Montalcino wine guide: grape, history and organoleptic characteristics
Updated: Jun 19, 2020
The king of every Sangiovese wines comes from Montalcino, where it has always called Brunello, hence the name Brunello di Montalcino. Here, in an area famous since ancient times for the sweetness of Moscadello of Montalcino, are produced some of the best, high-quality wines that have become symbols of the Italian enology, real masterpieces sealed in a bottle.
Structured, dense wines full of extract and with impressive tannins, but that five years of aging, six for Brunello Riserva, can tame and transform into one of the finest wine you can sip.
“The characteristic of Brunello is its longevity. Nature is capable of creating beautiful things. You just have to wait.” Franco Biondi Santi (1922-2013)
Montalcino, Val d'Orcia, Siena
History of Brunello di Montalcino
The vineyards around the village of Montalcino have always been giving good red wines, however, it was only in 1800, with the intuition of Clemente Santi, pharmacist of Montalcino with the passion for viticulture, that Brunello came to light.
He was the first to believe in the potential of Sangiovese Grosso grape and making unblended wines with it. He knew that the soil of Montalcino was special, ideal for producing wines of structure with great elegance, which could have withstood decades of aging.
In 1865 the world became aware of his masterpieces and was created the Brunello di Montalcino appellation to protect and regulate its production.
Franco Biondi Santi was the forefather of Brunello. He was a friend of my father and a truly inspirational gentleman of his generation. I will always remember the three conversations I had with him, as young wine student. In particular the one he told me that his Rose should be drank not before then 30 years! Alessandro
The first “modern version” of Brunello di Montalcino dates back to 1888 and by the end of World War II it had already gained the reputation as one of Italy’s rarest wines.
The only commercial producer at that time was the Biondi Santi firm, who with their Riservas 1888 – 1891 – 1925and 1945, proved to the world that Italian wines deserve to be named among the best in the world.
But years were yet to pass before Brunello was recognized as a top-notch wine, and only in the 90s of the last century, thanks to substantial investments even by American families, like Banfi, Brunello became a legend.
Agostino Lippi serving the "Biondi Santi Il Greppo" Brunello at Vinitaly
The most prestigious acknowledgement in recent years has been that of Wine Spectator, one of the world’s most authoritative magazines, which included the Brunello di Montalcino Biondi Santi Reserve 1955 among the 12 best wines made in the world during the 20th century, the only Italian wine on the list.
Organoleptic characteristics of Brunello di Montalcino
Monte Chiaro SuperTuscan 2013 and a legendary Biondi Santi 2008
This wine convinced us to start a micro production of our own Brunello, from a small plot of vineyards located close to the "Il Greppo".
The grape of the Brunello di Montalcino is exclusively Sangiovese, specifically the local clone, Sangiovese Grosso, so-called because of the thickness of the skin of the bunches, in which are contained the majority of substances that characterize the wine. The maceration is usually long, not less than 20-30 days, to extract tannins, color, and polyphenols, which are then carved by time and oak barrels, where the wine is aged for at least five years.
The bouquet of Brunello di Montalcino is one of those that can drive any wine lover crazy, of such a complexity that represents the Holy Grail of wine. Red fruits preserved in alcohol, complex notes of tea, coffee, earth, and mushrooms are elegantly blended, ethereal, embellished with balsamic returns, with violets that bloom here and there.