Brunello di Montalcino
The area near the town of Montalcino in the province of Siena has has been known since the Middle ages for a sweet white wine made from Moscadello. Much of the vineyard tracks were decimated by phylloxera in 1860s. The devastation caused by this tiny root louse also enabled the region to gradually change to a red wine producing region when the vineyards were planted to Sangiovese after the discovery that American root stocks were impartial to Phylloxera.
During the Risorgimento (the unification of Italy) around 1870, Ferruccio Biondi returned home from war and took over the family estate of Fattoria del Greppo. His grandfather was an oenologist and pharmacist named Clemente Santi. Ferruccio Biondi replanted the family vineyards that had been decimated by Phylloxera with a clone of Sangiovese Grosso now known as Brunello. Breaking with tradition, he vinified the Sangiovese seperately during his harvests. This was radical, Sangiovese was usually vinified together with other grape varieties creating a blended wine.
During the first 57 years of production, only four vintages of Brunello di Montalcino were declared; 1888, 1891, 1925, 1945. This exclusive and rare vintage declaration helped to create the prestige of Brunello di Montalcino.
The climate of Montalcino is drier and warmer than neighboring Chianti. Maritime breezes traveling from the southwest bring ventilation and cool evenings to the region. The soil of northern portion of the region has more marl while the southern region of Brunello di Montalcino contains more clay.
Wines aged in large oak casks called botti, as well as in smaller barrique. Brunello di Montalcino are released 50 months after harvest with riservas released after an additional year of aging. In 1984 Rosso di Montalcino was established. Rosso di Montalcino is also 100% Sangiovese but these wines can be marketed after one year.