Brunello: An Italian Wine Scandal Ferments in Montalcino

In a previous article, we examined Brunello’s 100 plus year history. In Italian wine expressions, that is a relatively short period. Nevertheless, Brunello has established itself as one of the premium wines, not only in Tuscany, but also in the entire world. Brunello di Montalcino has an even more brief history in Italy’s wine regulations. Brunello did not become a DOC until 1966 and has only been a DOCG since 1986.

Brunello’s DOCG regulations require that 100% Sangiovese grapes be used. The wines are then aged for a minimum of 4 years (5 years for the Riserva). Traditionally, Brunello required a minimum of three years ageing in wood barrels. That has now been relaxed to two years ageing in wood. In addition, four months must be in bottle (six for the Riservas). The finished wine cannot be released for sale until January 1st of the year five years from vintage year. For example, the 2003 Brunello’s could not be released until January of 2008. Geographically, there is a strictly identified zone surrounding the town of Montalcino, in which the Sangiovese grapes used to make Brunello must be grown and the wines must be bottled.

So what type of experience should a good Brunello provide? This simple question is controversial at the moment. Traditionally, Brunello, like other Sangiovese wines, is a pale ruby color. The wine is transparent in the glass with lovely perfumed aromas of cherries and floral notes. It has a powerful elegance about it.

Great Italian Wines: Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany

There really is little question as to what the two most famous and prestigious wines from Italy are: Barolo and Brunello di Montalcino. That is not to say they are the best wines, but that they have a history of being some of the best wines exported from Italy. The next series of articles will examine Brunellos (for a review on Barolo see the previously posted three part series on this site).

Brunello di Montalcino is a wine made from grapes grown in vineyards surrounding the hilltop town of Montalcino (about 5 miles south of Sienna) in Tuscany.

Vin Santo: A Truly Great Dessert Wine from Tuscany, Fit for Saints

Italy is known for many unique and delicious wines. This column has examined many of them. Up until now, however, we have ignored the topic of dessert wines.

The Great Escape to Tuscany

Sometimes I think of my life here and wonder what it’s all really about. I wake up in the morning, in San Francisco, put on my “suit” and walk to work in the Financial District amongst strange varieties of faces and rhythms. Yet we’re all wearing the same suit, walking in the same time, working for the same hours, and then we come home. Tired.

Italian Wine Journeys: Chianti

This is exciting. Being a part of a new Internet adventure and being asked to write about my favorite wines, wines from Italy. In some ways this is an easy task as I really love these wines and they make up such a vast component of my cellar. In other ways, this is quite difficult. Perhaps no region in the world has more diversity than Italy. From internationally appreciated wines that belong in every connoisseur’s wine cellar to some of the most obscure grapes on the planet, Italy produces a cornucopia of wines. In the coming months I hope to expose you to new regions and old regions producing wines that provide lots of drinking pleasure at a reasonable cost.

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