Antonio Galloni - 02/05/2011
About this WINE
Marchesi De Frescobaldi
Marchesi di Frescobaldi, one of the oldest Italian wine companies and the largest, is something of a paradox. The company which owns nearly 1000 hectares of vineyard land in Tuscany remains in the control of one family which, while it traces its history back at least seven centuries, has also consistently been at the forefront of the modernisation of the Italian wine industry. The family has been producing wine since 1300 and produces an exemplary range of wines from its estates at Castello di Nipozzano, Pomino and CastelGiocondo.
Tenuta CastelGiocondo is one of the original Brunello estates, originally an ancient stronghold built in 1100. One of the first four properties to produce Brunello di Montalcino in 1800, it has been owned by Frescobaldi since 1989. Named after an ancient castle and a small medieval village to the south-west of Montalcino, CastelGiocondo hosts an ideal terroir for high-quality Sangiovese.
The 151-hectare estate is home to a unique combination of soils, altitudes and microclimates, which allow the grapes to grow with delicacy, balance and harmony. The soils vary by altitude, with clay at 250 metres; well-drained sandstone at 300 metres; and the high-quality galestro soils at 350-450 metres – where the best Sangiovese for the Brunello and Ripe al Convento are grown. While not officially certified, the estate has been farmed organically since 2013, working with the greatest respect for the terroir and land surrounding them.
The Frescobladis` links with the Mondavi family in California have resulted in the joint purchase of a estate in Montalcino adjacent to Castelgiocondo to produce the company's flagship wine - Luce. The Luce site was selected for its potential to produce the very best fruit and there is no compromise in its winemaking or its viticultural care. It represents the very best that the company can produce. The company also produces the Lucetta, a wine from a blend of the very best parcels of fruit from all the company's Tuscany vineyards. Both wines contain Merlot as well as the traditional Sangiovese.
Brunello di Montalcino
Along with Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino is Tuscany's most famous DOCG and the region's boldest expression of Sangiovese. Located 30 miles south of Siena with the hilltop town of Montalcino as its epicentre, its 2,000 hectares 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 purezza (ie 100 percent).
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 southeast 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 1,734 metre 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.
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 hectares of vines and 1,243 hectares 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 hectares to 12,000. 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 six years in the case of Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. During this time the wines should be aged for at least two years in oak, followed by at least four months in bottle (six months for Riservas); maximum yields are 55 hl/ha.
Rosso di Montalcino is declassified Brunello di Montalcino, released for sale 18 months after the harvest.
It is a high yielding, late ripening grape that performs best on well-drained calcareous soils on south-facing hillsides. For years it was blighted by poor clonal selection and massive overcropping - however since the 1980s the quality of Sangiovese-based wines has rocketed upwards and they are now some of the most sought after in the world.
It produces wines with pronounced tannins and acidity, though not always with great depth of colour, and its character can vary from farmyard/leather nuances through to essence of red cherries and plums. In the 1960s the advent of Super Tuscans saw bottlings of 100% Sangiovese wines, as well as the introduction of Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blends, the most famous being Tignanello.