Montalcino: the landscape is gently undulating, its fluidity nearly lunar, interspersed with the occasional, silver-gray gully and solitary cypress tree.
Set like gems against this unique background are vineyards, olive groves, chestnut woods, ancient cottages, quaint medieval villages, castles and genuine treasures of Tuscan art like Saint Antimo Abbey (Abbazia di Sant’Antimo) or the lesser known Church of Santa Maria degli Angeli (Our Lady of Angels; hence Colle degli Angeli).
Overlooking it all is the vast bulk of Monte Amiata, geographical reference point to the entire area. Mount Amiata serves as the wayfarer’s compass needle and the farmer’s barometer, as in the old saying: “Quando i nubi vanno verso Siena, ogni fossa si piena, quando i nubi vanno verso Roma, prendi i bovi e lavora” When clouds move towards Siena (with respect to Monte Amiata), every ditch fills up with rain, when clouds move towards Rome, yoke your oxen and work.
“From the dawn of time, the history of Montalcino and its environs is interwoven with that of wine, as testified by numerous Etruscan artifacts…”
In the Middle Ages, Montalcino was well known for its production of Moscatello, a delicately sweet white wine. This was flanked by other whites and by a red from Sangiovese grapes. The excellence of the area’s viniculture was such it contributed to making Montalcino a highly desirable province: so much so that Siena and Florence fought for its control from c. 1200 to 1500. In the early 1800s, the name Brunello was used to designate a particularly dark-berried variety of Sangiovese Grosso, typical of this area (bruno meaning very dark, almost black). In the second half of the century, many vineyards were wiped out by Phylloxera, yet the consequent destruction was a prelude to the amazing renaissance of fine winemaking in the region: around 1865-1870, a brave young man who’d fought with Garibaldi his name was Ferruccio Biondi returned to the family estate, determined to replant the damaged vineyards and carry on the passionate viticultural research of his grandfather, Clemente Santi. Ferruccio Biondi-Santi’s (as he was now known) severe clonal selection and above all, his decision to vinify 100% Sangiovese Grosso of the “Brunello” variety (rather than blend it with minor percentages of white grapes in the Chianti style of the time) led to Italy’s first quality revolution in winemaking some 100 years before that of DOC appellations.
The combination of structure, magnitude, complexity, longevity and elegance of the new wine Brunello di Montalcino created an instant classic. In good vintages, this exceptional red ages gracefully for up to one century! The earliest bottles still extant are dated 1888, and its fame has known no bounds since its creation, achieving DOCG status in 1980. Today, Brunello has marked Montalcino as deeply as Montalcino soil has marked the wine it nurtured. Landscape, lifestyle, economy, all bear the distinguishing traits of Brunello di Montalcino its aromas and flavors, its layered complexity enrich the life of this historic medieval town as well as the lives of Brunello cognoscenti all over the world…
…For a glass of Brunello di Montalcino is no less than Montalcino in a glass. The sensory experience of Brunello is as rooted in the scents and flavors of its terroir, history and heritage as the vineyards it hails from, and the Montalcino men and women who picked their fruit.