Brunello di Montalcino is an Italian red wine grape produced in vineyards in and around the town of Montalcino. This is approximately 120 km south of Florence in Tuscany. The word Brunello is derived from the Italian masculine form Bruno meaning brown.
Locally in Montalcino it was believed that Brunello was a single individual grape grown just in that region. Extensive study was done in 1879 by the Province of Siena's Amphelographic Commission and concluded that it was in fact a particular clone of the Sangiovese grape.
Brunello evolved into a designation of wines made with 100% Sangiovese grapes. Brunello di Montalcino was awarded DOCG status in 1980 and today it remains one of Italy's best known and most expensive wines.
My reviews of these Brunello di Montalcino red wines are updated weekly. These Brunello di Montalcino red wines offer great taste at a good price. You'll find a definition of Brunello di Montalcino wine at the bottom of this page as well as food pairings Brunello di Montalcino Brunello di Montalcino in my wine matcher. This is just a small set of my reviews, but you can get all of them when you join my wine community.
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Brunello di Montalcino
Origins of Brunello di Montalcino might be traced back as far as the 14th century. A red wine praised by the nobles of Tuscany as the “best wine in Tuscany,” Brunello is considered the youngest of Italy's prestigious wines.
In 1888, Ferruccio Biondi-Santi bottled and formally named the first Brunello di Montalcino. Biondi-Santi is also credited with isolating the superior Sangiovese clone found only in the Montalcino wine region. By WW II Brunello developed a reputation for being one of Italy's rarest and most expensive wines. More producers wanted in on the action.
By 1960 there were 11 producers following Biondi-Santi's success. In 1968, Brunello di Montalcino is awarded DOC status. By 1980, there are 53 Brunello di Montalcino producers and Brunello di Montalcino is given DOCG status. Today, there are 200 producers of Brunello di Montalcino in Italy.
Climate has the most influence on the deep characteristics of Brunello di Montalcino. Montalcino sits south of Florence and enjoys warmer, drier growing seasons than that of the other popular Tuscan Sangiovese region Chianti. It is the driest of all Tuscan DOCG zones.
Cool, south-west maritime breezes also help ventilate late afternoon warmth and bring cooler nights. Sunshine on the northern and southern facing slopes are used to full advantage creating earlier or later ripening as desired.
The particular isolated superior Sangiovese clone unique to Montalcino region imparts distinct characteristics in Brunello di Montalcino. Aromas include blackberry, black cherry, black raspberry, leather, chocolate and violets. Perhaps fleshier in taste than Chianti.
Brunello di Montalcino is often compared to Burgundian Pinot Noir. Smooth tannins, acidic, ripe fruit driven character.
Brunello di Montalcino producers divide their production into two categories: normale or riserva. By DOCG law, Brunello di Montalcino must be aged longer than the majority of Italian wines. Normale requires 4 years, two of which must be in oak. Five years of aging are required for riserva Brunello di Montalcino, 2.5 years of which must be in oak.
The kinds of oak varies. Traditionalists will use the large old Slovanian oak casks that don’t impart significant character to the wine. Modern producers will use smaller French barriques that give more structure and vanilla, but require some management of overwhelming characteristics of oak and vanilla by the winemaker.
Fun fact: 1 out of 3 bottles of wine sold in the United States is Brunello di Montalcino, mostly in restaurants.
Brunello di Montalcino food pairing with grilled meats and game.
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