The year is 1450 and there is a major territorial battle
taking place between Siena including (neighbouring Montalcino) and
Florence. The feuding Ghibellini and Guelfi families are struggling
for power. Throughout the late medieval period they were at war
constantly to rule over the land which today is central Tuscany.
As time passed, the castles of the Guelfi and the Ghibellini remained,
but olive groves and kilometers of vineyards are now planted on
Montalcino the little medeval village, became one of most famous
places in the world for producing wine. Competition on the battleground
switched to competition underground in the cellars to produce a
Brunello di Montalcino was officially born in 1966 however its origin
and success dates back to the late 1800s. Credit for the wine’s
origin and success must be given to the Biondi-Santi family. In
the late 1800s Ferruccio Biondi-Santi decided that wine made from
the local sangiovese grape needed to be aged in a barrel for a few
years before consumption. He knew that he could make a world class
wine however he needed time and patience to do the rest. The barrel
aging would give the wine structure and the time would soften the
wine and make it smoother. He aged the wine for a few years in wood
and sure enough it was terrific!
The name Brunello or “little brown one” in Italian refers
to the colour of the grape’s skin before picking. The wine
is one of Italy’s most celebrated long-lived is also one of
Italy’s most expensive.
Brunello di Montalcino has evolved as one of the finest most sought-after
wines world-wide. In
its youth displays intense complex aromas is of cherries, earth,
black fruit, spice. Its taste is dry, full bodied, elegant and
seductive. Its firm tannins and pronounced acidity lends itself
to many food pairings and a long life. According to the Consorzio
del Vino Brunello Di Montalcino, a group of Brunello growers united
to uphold the wines prestige, terrific vintages like 97 and 01
Brunello can age for 15-20 years. In weaker vintages such as 91
and 92 age for approx 5-7 years after release.
The consorzio also reports that in 1975, the total number of producers
was approximately 25 making 70,000 cases of Brunello. Twenty years
later, 120 producers made 300,000 cases. Today there are well
over 200 producers in the Consorzio. The production has risen
to over half a million cases.
The wines power and complexity suggests it be enjoyed with hearty
dishes such as braised beef, grilled rack of lamb, feathered of
fur game, sharp aged cheeses such as Pecorino or Parmiggiano Reggiano.
I recommend it be decanted 2 hours before serving so that the
wine is exposed to air and it is allowed to open up and display
its complexities. Its best to serve Brunello between 16-20 degrees
C. in clear chrystal stemware.
few great Brunello Producers:
Siro Pacenti, Ciacci Piccolomini, Conti Constanti, Fuligni
A few good Brunello Producers:
Tenuta Caparzo, Col D’orcia, Lisini,
Great Brunello vintages 2001, 1999, 1997
Good Brunello Vintages 2000, 1998, 1996.