Brunello di Montalcino is an oenological excellence in an evocative territory that has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. Cultivations alternate vineyards, olive groves and arable land with a large number of stone buildings that testify to the centennial cultivation of these lands.
Historical notes, the name of mysterious origins
The name “Montalcino” has a mysterious origin: some believe that it derives from Mons Lucinus, a mountain dedicated to the Roman goddess Lucina (Juno). Others, however, and this is the most widely accepted opinion, link it to Mons Ilcinus (Monte dei Lecci) referring to the strong presence of holm oaks in the area – in fact, in the coat of arms of the Municipality of Montalcino a holm oak tree is visible above three mountains. Considered for a long time an impregnable fortress, always at the center of bitter military disputes during the age of the municipalities, the vocation of the Montalcino territory to produce high quality wines has been known for over two thousand years: there are numerous archaeological finds dating back to Etruscan era. In the Middle Ages, the municipal statutes regulated the start date of the harvest. During the siege of 1553, wine was at the center of the chronicles of the time and Blaise de Montluc, in defense of the Montalcino walls, “would rub his face with red wine” to conceal suffering. According to the historian Leandro Alberti (1550-1631), Montalcino is “very much named for the good wines that are made from those pleasant hills”. Charles Thompson, in 1744, wrote that “Montalcino is not very famous except for the goodness of its wines”.
The birth of Brunello di Montalcino dates back to the nineteenth century, when some Montalcino farmers began to experiment with the production of a red wine with grapes from a vine traditionally grown in the area. A vine called “Brunello” or “Brunellino” which, in the mid-nineteenth century,
it is identified as a variety of Sangiovese. A very valuable grape because it is capable of producing long aging wines
that is, red wines of the highest quality.
The precursor father of Brunello di Montalcino was certainly Clemente Santi. In 1869 one of his Chosen Wine (Brunello), from the 1865 harvest, was awarded a silver medal by the Montepulciano Agrarian Comitium. In the following years the Brunello obtained other important international recognitions beating the French reds even in Paris and Bordeaux. For many years the Brunello remained a rarity destined to a few refined connoisseurs. It was only in the second half of the twentieth century that, from a delicacy for the few, it became a world symbol of the best Made in Italy. With the birth of the DOC, Brunello experiences a phase as a protagonist and is in the group of the first eight wines to which the designation of origin is attributed. In 1966 Brunello di Montalcino became a DOC wine and the following year he established his Consortium. In 1980 it became the first DOCG Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin and from that moment on, all its bottles are sealed with a state label that guarantees their origin.
However, the production of Brunello is still too small to establish itself on an international scale. The first winery with a real commercial network dates back to the 1970s but Brunello conquered the world market only after 1980, also through an increase in the number of wineries and bottles produced. Montalcino also leads the way in Italian wine tourism with the first wineries equipped for guided tours and an entire territory that each year receives thousands of visitors from all over the world.
The myth of Brunello, its natural elements
Thanks to a happy intuition of Filippo Bartolotta – one of the best known communicators and connoisseurs of wine, as well as a journalist – it was made possible to tell the peculiarities of the territory and of the wine product through an original interpretation, which passes from the description of the influences of the elements natural on the territory of denomination. “No wine is made in the surrounding valley, nothing grows in the clay of the Crete Senesi – says Bartolotta – like a true oasis, something extraordinary happens within the denomination”. The four natural elements then influence, each in their own way, the territory and the Brunello. The water of the rivers that delimit the territory; Monte Amiata, an extinct volcano, which represents fire; the impenetrable land of the Crete; the clean air produced by the wonderful woods that surround the Brunello vineyards. “We chose a different approach – concludes Filippo Bartolotta – instead of talking directly about Brunello, the grape variety, the process itself, we focused on the oasis, nature, spirituality, wood, the characters who have made this territory great. A territory where what I consider to be the most important collective brand of Italian wine and one of the most important in the world is born ” .
Brunello di Montalcino 2016 by Castiglion del Bosco in second place in James Suckling’s “Top 100 of Italy 2020”.
Brunello di Montalcino 2016 by Castiglion del Bosco, one of the largest and most historic estates in Montalcino, owned by Massimo and Chiara Ferragamo since 2003, has recently obtained great recognition: second place in the “Top 100 wines of Italy 2020” by James Suckling, the ranking drawn up every year by the famous wine critic, dedicated to Italian wine excellence. James Suckling assigns a score of 99/100 to Brunello di Montalcino 2016 by Castiglion del Bosco and portrays it as a wine “of amazing beauty and complexity, with notes characteristics of cherry, walnut, tobacco and cigar box. Sweet cherries. It is full-bodied and deep with great intensity and power. Layered and beautiful. Really refined tannins. A part of fermentation with whole grapes gives this added character. It remains for minutes. To try after 2025 “.
A Brunello di Montalcino – Le Lucére 2015 – on the world podium for Wine Spectator. First Italian in the standings. Brunello di Montalcino is the best Italian wine of the year according to the most influential sector magazine in the world, Wine Spectator, which in its special international ranking of 2020 placed San Filippo’s Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucére 2015 on the podium in third place . “It is a great satisfaction – comments the owner of San Filippo, Roberto Giannelli – I would not have expected it. Seeing Brunello on the podium to represent Italy is a great feeling. I am convinced that this trend can continue for a long time. Montalcino still has many surprises to reveal and through commitment, passion and attention to quality we will have other exceptional wines “.
128 Brunello di Montalcino 2015 have achieved the highest awards this year from 7 of the main Italian wine guides (Ais Vitae, Bibenda, Cernilli, Gambero Rosso, Slow Wine, Touring, Veronelli); this is a result that has few precedents in the modern history of sector rankings. But 2016, on the market since early 2021, promises unprecedented internal competition between 2 consecutive years. For Bindocci: “The international critics who have had the opportunity to preview the new vintage in recent weeks are already divided on which is the best. We at the Consortium – concluded Bindocci – limit ourselves to observing how 2 consecutive thousandths of this level in Montalcino we have never had and perhaps it is no coincidence that they have arrived now “. The challenge between vintages is more fierce than ever: on the one hand , for the American based in Hong Kong, James Suckling, “2016 would have been the greatest vintage ever for Brunello were it not for 2015”. On the other hand, the super expert Monica Larner, a leading signature for Robert Parker and his The Wine Advocate, in assigning two 100/100 to as many companies in the village admitted her weakness for 2016, for which she even complains of an “embarrassment of the choice given by the excessive presence of excellent wines. ”In short, an excellence that has conquered the palates of the most uncompromising connoisseurs and professionals in the sector. A quality certified by the marks of Controlled Designation of Origin and of Controlled and Certified Designation of Origin, which put the Made in Italy stamp on inimitable products destined to raise the tricolor flag in the wine sector