When asked to name Italian wines, people might come up with the
full-bodied Tuscan Chianti, the light and fruity Pinot Grigio
originating from the Tre Venezie or the sparkling Asti from the Piedmont
region. But would they know about the Tuscan Brunello Di Montalcino?
The Brunello is a wine produced solely from the Sangiovese Grosso, a
larger-berried variety of the Sangiovese grape. These round and juicy
bunches grow exclusively around Montalcino, a beautiful hilltop town in
area, which boasts a fortress that was never conquered. Thanks to being
exposed to one of the warmest and driest climates in Tuscany, the
Sangiovese grapes often matures up to a week earlier than their fruit
counterparts used in the production of Chianti and Montepulciano.
Although the first mentions of the Brunello can be traced back to the
14th century, the wine became well known much later, largely because of
the Biondi-Santi family. In the 1870s, Clemente Sianti was already
producing the beverage we know today. His grandson Ferruccio
Biondi-Santi then took up the challenge of managing the family estate
after coming home from the Garibaldi campaigns. He is the one
responsible for developing new winemaking methods, and for taking the
Brunello to its more accomplished form. The Biondi-Santi family was
still the sole Brunello producer when World War II ended. Today,
however, there are over 200 wine producers, mainly small farms and
estates, who proudly have their names attached to one of the first-class
wine names in Italy.
The Brunello has been traditionally matured over a long period in
large oaks barrels, thus creating a very intricate flavour. More modern
methods now call for smaller recipients and a reduced aging time,
resulting in a less tannic and more velvety body. Aromas such as
blackberry, chocolate, black cherry and violet are often associated with
the Brunello. A French “equivalent” would be found in the Burgundy
region, namely the Pinot noir varieties. The strong character of the
Brunello makes it the perfect accompaniment for meat and game.