Brunello di Montalcino is Tuscany's most famous DOCG
(along with Chianti) and
the region's boldest expression of Sangiovese. Brunello di Montalcino
is located 30 miles south of Siena with the hilltop town of Montalcino
as its epicentre. Its 2,000ha of vines are naturally delimited by the Orcia,
Asso and Ombrone valleys. Brunello is the local name for the Sangiovese
Grosso clone from which Brunello di Montalcino should be made in
The Brunello di Montalcino DOCG has a whale-like shape. At its head, at 661
metres above sea level on ancient stony/galestro soils facing east and
south-east, lies the town of Montalcino where the DOC was founded. As you
follow the spine south towards the tail the vineyards lose altitude - those
around Colle Sant'Angelo are at 250 metres - while the soils become richer with
iron and clay. Further east in the shadow of the 1734m high Mont'Amiata lies
the village of Castelnuovo dell'Abate where the vineyards are strewn with a
rich mix of galestro, granitic, volcanic, clay and schist soil types.
While Brunello di Montalcino's climate is mildly Mediterranean thanks its
proximity to the sea only 20 miles away, the elevation of the vineyards
provides an important diurnal temperature variation (hot days, cool nights).
This benefits the grapes by maintaining acidity levels and extending their
ripening time. The howling `tramontana' wind can also play an important role in
drying and concentrating the fruit.
Historically the zone is one of Tuscany's youngest. First praised in 1550 by
Leandro Alberti for the quality of its wines, it was Tenuta Il Greppo who
bottled the inaugural Brunello di Montalcino in 1888. By 1929 the region had
925 ha of vines and 1,243 ha of mixed crops, while in 1932 it was decreed that
only those wines made and bottled within the commune could be labelled as
Brunello di Montalcino. Since then, the number of producers has risen from 11
in 1960 to 230 in 2006, while over the same period the vineyards have expanded
from 1,000 to 12,000ha. The region earned its DOC in 1966 and was upgraded to
DOCG in 1980.
Brunello di Montalcino cannot be released for sale until five years after
the harvest, or 6 years for Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. During this
time the wines should be aged for at least 2 years in oak
followed by at least 4 months in bottle (6 months for Riservas). Maximum yields
are 55 hl/ha.
Montalcino is declassified Brunello di Montalcino, released for sale 18
mths after the harvest
Recommended producers: Costanti, Fuligni, Lisini, San Giuseppe, Soldera,