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Brunello di Montalcino

The Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most prestigious red wines in Tuscany, an enological monument appreciated throughout the world. Its robust, warm and elegant personality, together with its intense and complex aromas, have universally consecrated it as the King of the Sangiovese. It is considered to be one of the most long-living, given its ability to reach its fullest expression even after decades of bottle ageing. To understand its importance, one needs only to notice the record price of 6 million dollars for which a vineyard of 1.6 hectares on the hills of Montalcino, nicknamed 'the golden vineyard', was recently sold. Aromatic richness, expressive power and impressive structure make it one of the most legendary and illustrious wine expressions of our peninsula.

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The Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most prestigious red wines in Tuscany, an enological monument appreciated throughout the world. Its robust, warm and elegant personality, together with its intense and complex aromas, have universally consecrated it as the King of the Sangiovese. It is considered to be one of the most long-living, given its ability to reach its fullest expression even after decades of bottle ageing. To understand its importance, one needs only to notice the record price of 6 million dollars for which a vineyard of 1.6 hectares on the hills of Montalcino, nicknamed 'the golden vineyard', was recently sold. Aromatic richness, expressive power and impressive structure make it one of the most legendary and illustrious wine expressions of our peninsula.

The History of Brunello di Montalcino

The history of Brunello is closely linked to that of the Biondi Santi family, who produced the first bottles in the 19th century, even though the extraordinary vocation of the territory had been known for many centuries.

The first evidence dates back to the Middle Ages: municipal statutes regulating the dates of the grape harvest. A curious anecdote dates back to 1553: Montalcino was under siege and its commander Blaise de Montluc, engaging in the defence of its walls, to simulate his suffering and fatigue, "rubbed his face with strong red wine".

In the following centuries, the history of wine in the territory had as its main protagonist a much appreciated sweet white wine, the Moscadello. This was, at least until Clemente Biondi Santi, selecting a particular clone of Sangiovese and importing evolved enological techniques from France, inaugurated the production of a high quality red wine, which he called 'Brunello'. Its date of birth is fixed in 1869, when Clemente presented his 'vino rosso scelto 1865' in a competition at the Montalcino Agricultural Fair, winning two silver medals. Clemente's legacy was picked up by his nephew Ferruccio, while his example was followed by other families in the area who won important national and international awards in the following decades.

In the early years of the 20th century, it was already known throughout Europe as a red wine of great value and also very expensive, because it was produced in limited quantities. Accounts from the time speak of only three producers: Ferruccio Biondi Santi, and Raffaello and Carlo Padelletti; while a report by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1932 recognised Ferruccio Biondi Santi as the original creator of the wine.

The expansion of wine production was inaugurated after World War II, enjoying great success all over the world and growing very quickly and exponentially. In 1960, there were only 11 wineries, while today there are more than 300!

In the meantime, the first regulations were put in place to govern its production, starting with the recognition of the DOC in 1966, the drafting of the first production rules and the founding of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino. Recognition of the DOCG in 1980 and new additions to the production regulations have helped protect the denomination, guaranteeing the highest quality of Brunello DOCG, recognised today as one of the best.

The Brunello DOCG Regulations

The production regulations governing the denomination of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG date back to 1980 and have been subject to more recent modifications and additions. These regulations define the territory of origin, the production processes and the characteristics, together with other essential conditions to guarantee the highest quality of the denomination.

It can only be produced from Sangiovese grapes from the administrative territory of the municipality of Montalcino, in the province of Siena. The vineyards must be located on hilly terrain, at an altitude of no more than 600 metres, with a planting density of no less than 3000 vines per hectare.

The wine-making process includes only those enological practices "suitable to confer its particular characteristics". The maximum grape yield may not exceed 68% and must guarantee a natural alcoholic strength by volume of not less than 12%. In the case of specifying the vineyard of origin, the regulations are even stricter and require an index of at least 12.5% vol. as well as a ban on any kind of enrichment. All operations may only be carried out in the area of production of the grapes.

A period of refinement in oak casks of no less than 2 years is prescribed, followed by at least 4 months in the bottle. It can only be put on the market from the 1st of January, following the end of the 5 years from the date of harvest. The Brunello Riserva typology on the other hand, cannot be released before 6 years from the date of harvest. This commercial release can only take place in dark glass Bordeaux bottles, closed with a cork, and capable of guaranteeing long ageing in the cellar.

 

Presentation and Pairings with Brunello di Montalcino

It has an intense ruby red colour, tending increasingly towards garnet as it ages. The aromas are rich and intense, and the taste robust and complex. These characteristics allow a long evolution in the bottle and an ageing potential of more than 10 years. Although it is advisable to leave the wine to age in the cellar for many years, especially the Reserves, many examples can be drunk and appreciated as soon as they are released.

Given its great structure and intensity, it can be paired with very tasty and elaborate dishes, mainly based on red meat: braised meat, stews, elaborate sauces, baked or stewed game, possibly accompanied by mushrooms and truffles. The combination with grilled and barbecued meats is not recommended because the roasted parts may interact badly with the wine's pronounced tannins.

Very mature cheeses and blue cheeses are another excellent match, such as mature tome, Tuscan pecorino and spicy gorgonzola. The long persistence and fatness of these cheeses is balanced by the warm, alcoholic and tannic personality.

Brunello di Montalcino wine can also be enjoyed on its own, i.e. as a meditation wine: its elegance, combined with intense, rich and harmonious aromas and scents, can enchant the senses and offer a magnificent tasting experience.

The complexity and richness of this wine requires a long oxygenation period. It is therefore advisable to uncork the bottle at least two hours before tasting. If the bottle has been resting in the cellar for many years, it is advisable to lay it down vertically at least one day before, to allow any residue to settle, and to open it several hours before serving.

On Callmewine, all lovers of great Tuscan reds can find a vast selection of the best Brunello di Montalcino wines at competitive prices. Each proposal is enriched by a description by the sommelier with an organoleptic examination and advice on serving and pairing. Discover the best bottles on Callmewine and let yourself be conquered by their great and prestigious complexity.