In our examinations of some of the best wines on the Xtrawine site, we have taken a look at some of the most famous producers in the country, alongside smaller companies who we feel deserve a little bit of extra recognition for the work they have contributed and the quality of the wines they producer.
However, in all of that time we have not taken a look at one of the foremost producers the country has even played host to.
Every so often, a wine producer comes along that truly breaks the mould and creates something that truly stands out in an industry that is filled with talented producers and amazing wines. This week’s spotlight shines on a company that did just that and, in doing so, established the wine that would go onto become the first to receive the much sought after DOCG label, in addition to establishing a reputation as one of the best and most exclusive wines in the country.
So, without any further ado, let’s take a little look at the story behind Biondi Santi.
The story of the wine that would go onto become Brunello di Montalcino extends even further back than you may think. Though the company introduced its most famous wine in the late 19th century, Brunello had actually been used to create some spectacular wines previously by producers throughout Tuscany.
However, it was Giorgio Santi who dedicated much of his life to the research of the botanical and geographical regions. While this work didn’t have everything to do with the grape, it did result in much of the methodology that lies behind the odeporic method and is established the Santi name as one to look out for in the agricultural industry.
His nephew, Clemente, was the one to really elevate the Brunello grape to levels that had never been seen before. A pharmaceutical student and writer, who used the vast estates that he owned throughout Pienza and Montalcino to dedicate his time to agriculture. In particular, he focused on a farm named Greppo, where he developed an enormous knowledge of oenological techniques, to the point where his Greppo wines were awarded a prize for their quality during the Universal Expo in Paris in 1867. During his studies and work, he continually crafted wines of exceptional quality, experimenting with ageing and racking techniques that were far in advance of any used by contemporary producers and would also set the stage for the successes that came later.
It was the ascent of Ferruccio Biondi Santi, who was Clemente’s grandchild, that really led to the Santi name coming to prominence, as he was the one who introduced the world to the stunning Brunello di Montalcino in the late 1800s. Building on his grandfather’s ageing techniques, Ferruccio’s wines were left in the barrel for over ten years, allowing them to achieve a level of maturity that really highlighted the quality of the grape.
In very short order, Brunello di Montalcino became one of the most revered wines in the world, not least because of its rarity. Until the 1940s, Biondi Santi were the only producer of the wine, and they only released four batches between 1888 and 1945. Part of this was due to issues with the vineyards, particularly in the wake of the phyloxera plant disease. However, the exclusivity surrounding the wine also helped to develop its legend and Ferruccio was officially recognized as the inventor of Brunello di Montalcino.
His son, Tancredi, furthered the cause of the wine, using what he had learned from his father, in addition to the training he received in oncology, to elevate the wines produced by the company to ever greater heights. He became the ambassador for the entire region, allowing even more people to uncover the joys of the wines produced in Montalcino while also developing new winemaking ideas that would allow for even higher levels of quality.
He quickly became an advisor to winemaking estates throughout Italy, meaning his advice has led to the creation of many other great vintages aside from his own. It was under his guidance that Brunello di Montalcino hit its highest peak yet, but even more was still to come.
Franco Biondi Santi has the unenviable task of following on from his forebears, but he set about it with gusto, combining what he had learned from both father and grandfather with his own studies into the oncological sciences.
While he had the opportunity to start from an excellent base, he is the man who oversaw the classification of Brunello di Montalcino as the very first DOCG wine and, under his guidance, the entire operatio has continued to grow to the point where the company is capable of overseeing 2,100 hectares of land without any compromising of the quality of wines produced by Biondi Santi.
Even so, production of the company’s most famous wine remains strictly limited, ensuring it enjoys the stellar reputation it has since its inception. The future of the company is also already secured, with Franco now working alongside his own two children, Jacopo and Alessandra, within whom we are sure the seed for the next great adventures in the company’s legacy are already being planted.
So now that we have spoken at length about the family and history of Biondi Santi, let’s examine one of its very best wines.
Though the 2010 vintage of Biondi Santi’s Brunello di Montalcino received amazing plaudits, with some even going so far as to call it the perfect wine, the 2011 vintage is by no means a slouch in its own right.
A wine that bears all of the hallmarks of more than a century of quality and experience, it features a gorgeous ruby red colouring that demonstrates just how perfectly it has been aged. As time goes on, this coluring fades further, but the quality of the wine still remains.
Once poured, the aromas that emanate from the glass truly sparkly, with the drinker having the opportunity to explore beautiful notes of vanilla and flowers, alongside slightly spicier notes that become more prominent when the wine is tasted.
On the tongue, the wine’s perfect balance is demonstrated through a warm and persistent tastes that offers stunning harmony and beautiful flavours. It is a wine to truly be savoured.