Spotlight on Brunello: Tuscany’s Bold Beauty
Brunello’s homeland and namesake come from the town of Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy. The appellation is small compared to others in Tuscany at only 59,309 acres, and of that area, only 15% of it is under vine. Brunello has existed, in some form, since the 14th century, but it was not until 1865 that Brunello was recognized as an award-winning wine at a fair in Montalcino. For most of its existence, Brunello has been an exceedingly rare wine. In fact, there were only 11 producers of Brunello in 1968 when the wine received its DOC status. It later went on to receive a DOCG status in 1980.
HOW BRUNELLO IS MADE:
The regulation of Brunello di Montalcino is strict to preserve the integrity and quality of the wine. The wine must be produced in the Montalcino area and may only contain Sangiovese grapes. This regulation led to a scandal when, in 2008, some wineries were charged with fraud for adding other grape varieties to their Brunello. The scandal known as “Brunellogate” exemplifies the region’s commitment to protecting this local wine and consumers around the world.
In addition to grape varieties and production area regulations, Brunello has requirements for aging too. The wine must be aged for five years, six years for Riservas, before they are released into the market. Of that period, at least, two years must be spent in oak barrels and, at least, four months in bottle. Both Normale and Riserva must have a minimum alcohol content of 12.5%
Brunello di Montalcino has a beautiful ruby red color that darkens to garnet with age. But arguably its most striking feature is its beautiful nose. Aromas of red and blackberries, cherries, vanilla, chocolate, jam, leather, and cedar are all common in this wine. The wine tends to be dry and full in the mouth with smooth, round tannins. Brunello pairs well red meats and games dishes, as well as mushroom, truffles, and seasoned cheeses. Brunello is best when served in a large round wine glass at 65°F.
Conti Costanti was founded in 1555 in the province of Siena. Today the winery is owned by Andrea Costanti, and the winemaker is Vittorio Fiore. Costanti currently has 25 acres under vine with an average yearly production of about 60,000 bottles.
Fuligni was founded in 1923 in the province of Siena. Today the winery is owned by Roberto Fuligni and the winemaker is Paolo Vagaggini. Fuligni currently has 30-32 acres under vine. The Fuligni range is a complete cross-section of Montalcino offerings, Rosso, Brunello, Super Tuscan, and yearly production goes from an average of 50,000-60,000 bottles.
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