Committed to quality: Brunello
The Brunello di Montalcino is, along with the Barolo from Piedmont and the Amarone from Veneto, one of the truly great wines from Italy. This claim is clearly proven by the fact that the wine region around Montalcino was one of the first areas to be granted the Denominazione di Origine Controllata status in 1966. Then, 14 years later, the region was the first ever to achieve the newly created DOCG, Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantita quality level.
This means that strict regulations apply to the cultivation of the Sangiovese clone Brunello when this Tuscan icon is created. More on this later, now for the complex Brunello wine itself, which, vintage after vintage, earns points and awards right and left, and accumulates dust in every well-kept cellar until the optimum drinking maturity is reached.
The Brunello wine in profile
The Brunello red wine is characterized by its ruby red shine, accompanied by light brown tones. These come from the light brown skin of the Sangiovese Grosso grapes, hence the name Brunello, the "little brown one" according to the Tuscan dialect.
The nose perceives aromas typical of the grape variety, of ripe red fruits and a distinct spiciness, which comes from the long ageing in Slovenian oak or chestnut barrels. On the surface, the nose reveals nuances of cherry, plum and wild berries, accompanied by vanilla, pepper and citrus fruits.
The palate also enjoys a complex experience, thanks to the rich and spicy taste. The typical full-bodied body is covered with a slight trace of tannins, which are completed by an acidic finish. The interplay of all facets is extremely elegant and aromatic and ensures a warm and long-lasting finish on the palate.
Let Brunello breathe and decant
A Brunello wine can be stored for years after purchase. Ten years of storage are not uncommon for the wine to reach its ideal maturity. If you still want to enjoy a Brunello di Montalcino, even though you have just bought it, it is advisable to decant the wine. This means opening the bottle a few hours before drinking and pouring it into a carafe. In this way possible substances that are in the bottle due to the lack of filtration of top wines can settle on the bottom. In addition, the air supply ensures an accelerated development of the bouquet. If there is no carafe at hand, it is also sufficient to simply open the bottle the day before and let it breathe in a cool corner.
The terroir around Montalcino
The terroir around the village of Montalcino, between the rivers Asso, Orga and Ombrone, is primarily responsible for the exquisite aroma. The wine region extends over the hills of the Val d'Orcia and is geographically located on the Maremma coast, the hottest area of Tuscany. The wine gains in alcohol and durability from the abundant hours of sunshine, ideal for a perennial storage of young Brunello di Montalcino wines.
The vines on the approximately 2,000 hectares are cooled by fresh winds from the Tyrrhenian Sea, which create a wonderful balance to the high temperatures. Excellent conditions for the Brunello grape variety on the stony, dry and calcareous soils. Here the vines thrive until late September or sometimes until mid-October. Only then does the harvest begin, which is a risk for the winegrowers, since the change in weather from summer to autumn, with cool temperatures and increased rainfall, can hinder the ripening of the Sangiovese Grosso grapes and reduce the quality of the potential wine.
This is by no means the only hurdle that the winegrowers around Montalcino have to overcome before finally vinifying Brunello.
The regulations for Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
The rules for the DOCG Brunello di Montalcino designation are set out in 10 articles of the Disciplinare Brunello di Montalcino, written by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, a voluntary association of winegrowers and producers of the renowned red wine from Tuscany. Each of these articles deals with one aspect of the production process and in turn includes numerous sub-items.
- Simplified, the regulations can be summarized as follows:
- The area for the production of Brunello di Montalcino covers the historical border of the municipality of Montalcino.
- Only the Sangiovese Grosso grape variety, known locally as Brunello, may be used.
- The maximum quantity of grapes per hectare may not exceed 8 tons.
- The wine must mature for at least 2 years in oak or chestnut barrels and undergo four months of ageing in the bottle. For the "Riserva" rating, the ageing in the bottle is extended to 6 months.
- Characteristic of Brunello is its ruby to garnet red colour, intense aroma and dry, slightly tannic, harmonious taste.
- The alcohol content is at least 12.5% by volume.
- The wine may only be bottled in Bordeaux bottles in the Montalcino region.
- Brunello di Montalcino may only be sold 5 years after the harvest, for Riserva even 6 years after the harvest.
The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino
The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, founded in 1967, is committed to maintaining the quality and integrity of Brunello di Montalcino. It is a union of small and large wineries and producers with a common vision of the past, present and future of the wine region and the wines produced here.
There have always been voices of isolated individuals who wanted to achieve a relaxation of the strict regulations. The opposition, on the other hand, saw in a possible easing of the regulations the decline of the wine region and the reputation of the wines. So in 2008 a vote was held within the consortium, which voted with a clear 97% in favour of maintaining the rules.
The day-to-day business is the marketing and publicity of Brunello di Montalcino red wines and the other wines, namely Rosso di Montalcino, Moscadello di Montalcino and Sant'Antimo.
Furthermore, the consortium is responsible for the qualitative classification of the vintages. Thus the outstanding vintages are awarded 5 stars. To document all vintages, tiles have been artistically designed and presented in the town hall every year since 1991.
Interesting facts about the Brunello
What makes a Brunello di Montalcino?
In addition to its ruby red colour and spicy note of red fruit, the inscription Brunello di Montalcino gives an indication of its origin. In the bottle you will find pure Sangiovese Grosso wine, which can be stored for a long time.
Recommended with Brunello wine
Braised and grilled meat with strong sauces and aromatic cheese are ideal accompaniments to Brunello. The Brunello red wines are also recommended with mushroom dishes and dishes garnished with truffles.
Drinking temperature for Brunello wines
Brunello di Montalcino red wines have the ideal drinking temperature at 18°C. In addition, a Brunello red wine should be given some time to breathe, whether in a decanter or in the bottle. About 1 to 2 hours are good for the complex red wine.
Shelf life of Brunello di Montalcino red wine
Thanks to the lush tannins in Brunello, a storage of up to 10 years is no problem. A potential storage place should offer a cool, dark and temperature-resistant environment.
How long does an open bottle of Brunello last?
An opened bottle of Brunello can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 7 days, provided it is resealed. If the bottle is half full, the shelf life is reduced to 3-4 days. Always follow the rule of thumb: the less content, the shorter the shelf life.
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