Sangiovese: Articles on the Sangiovese Red Wine Grape Varietal

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.

Rutherford Grove Winery

The Vibe: 

A medium sized, family owned and operated winery that sits on the site of a former eucalyptus grove, Rutherford Grove Winery and Vineyards offers visitors flights of its estate grown cabernet and merlot, as well as sangiovese and sauvignon blanc. The Pestoni family, who still own and run the business, are descended from some of Napa’s pioneer winemakers, and over the past several decades have pioneered their own innovative methods for disposing of grape waste (skins, seeds and stems, also known as pomace) and reusing the remnants of grape seeds (see the Napa Valley Grapeseed Oil Company, with which third generation Pestonis are currently involved). Visitors will enjoy grabbing a glass at the tasting counter and browsing the grounds, or sitting under a shady umbrella in the ample picnic area.

Particularly good if you are seeking: 
  • Napa history buffs
  • Picnics (for customers only)
  • Private events (dinners, tastings)

Not good for: 
  • Tours
  • Weddings
  • Shoppers
Known For: 
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Petite Sirah


1673 St. Helena Highway
Rutherford, CA 94573
United States
38° 26' 51.0864" N, 122° 24' 44.6652" W
1673 St. Helena Highway
Rutherford, CA 94573
United States
38° 26' 51.0864" N, 122° 24' 44.6652" W
Phone Number: 
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