What are the first names that come to mind when we say Italian red wine.
Chianti, maybe? Barolo? Amarone?
This are all major players in the industry so it’s only natural that they will come to mind first. But there’s a type of wine that we believe matches every single one of these in terms of quality but doesn’t ever seem to be the Italian red wine on people’s lips:
Brunello di Montalcino.
This gorgeous wine represents everything that’s wonderful about our industry. And yet, it never seems to be held in the same high esteem as the wines we’ve just mentioned.
Thankfully, that looks like it’s about to change?
The Wine Spectator recently released its list of the Top 100 wines of 2020. And right there in the top three, in the medal positions, is an amazing example of a Brunello di Montalcino. In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at that particular wine and tell you a few of the things you need to know about Brunello di Montalcino in general.
Hitting the Top Three – The Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucére 2015
The wine in question hails from Roberto Giannelli’s San Filippo winery and the fact that it’s landed the number three spot in The Wine Spectator’s list of the Top 100 Wines of 2020 tells you exactly how good it is.
Bear in mind that this isn’t a list of the Top 100 Italian wines either. The experts at The Wine Spectator have sampled wines from all over the world to come up with their list. And that means this particular Italian wine stands up to the best that the French, Spanish, American, and every other wine industry has to offer.
When he speaks about the award, it’s clear just how much it means to Robert Giannelli:
“A great recognition for me personally and for Montalcino, for all the people who work for San Filippo and for the territory that has allowed us to make great wine and achieve this result. Which is the result of a path of great sacrifices and great passion, which in a year like this is even more significant, because things do not always turn out well, but this time they did.”
The last part of that statement is particularly poignant.
The company has managed to achieve this honour in a year that may have been the most difficult in the recent history of the Italian wine industry. This distinction shows just how hard Giannelli and his team work to bring the Brunello di Montalcino to prominence and their podium position is a just reward for those efforts.
But on top of that, this award is further proof that the Montalcino territory is capable of producing wines that stand up to the many wines produced in Italy’s more famous territories. Hopefully, you’ll be able to get your hands on a bottle of the Brunello di Montalcino Le Lucére 2015 yourself and experience the brilliance that made the experts at The Wine Spectator stand up and take notice.
But if you can’t manage that, we still encourage you to try a Brunello di Montalcino of some description. And to help you understand a little bit more about this type of wine, we’ve come up with a list of interesting facts about it and its territory.
Fact #1 – It’s Made Using Sangiovese
You’ve just read the name of the grape and immediately thought “Chianti”, haven’t you?
It is very true that the most famous of Italian red wines is made using Sangiovese grapes. However, the Brunello di Montalcino is also made solely using this type of grape, though the Montalcino locals actually call it Brunello.
If nothing else, this fact shows us just how much of a role the terroir plays in Italian wine.
Here we see two wines made using the same grape that offer vastly different experiences. If you want to see the value that the Montalcino territory has to offer, the Brunello di Montalcino shows you exactly how the unique land of this terroir can lead to a completely fresh Italian wine experience.
Fact #2 – The Flavour Profile Changes With Age
Brunello di Montalcino is also regarded as an Italian red wine that benefits from extensive ageing. So, if you get your hands on a bottle, it’s worth knowing how the flavour profile changes over time so you understand whether ageing is the right choice for you.
Younger variants of the wine tend to have a more varied bouquet. Key notes include cherry, strawberry, blackberry, violet, liquorice, and even potpourri. The wine will also tend to be fairly high in tannins.
With age, many of these notes become more refined, as do the tannins themselves. And old version of the wine tends to add a candied flavour to the dominant cherry note. You will also start to notice notes of dried fig, leather, and hazelnut, all weaved together with a chocolate note that makes the wine so smooth to the taste.
In both cases, you’re getting an Italian wine that tastes beautiful.
But now that you know the two flavour profiles, you can choose which version of Brunello di Montalcino suits your tastes best.
Fact #3 – Montalcino Was One of the First DOCG Areas
This is a distinction that should not go unrecognised.
In 1980, Montalcino became on of the first Italian wine regions to receive then then-new DOCG classification. To show you how important this was, the other regions to receive the classification during this year were Barolo and Barbaresco.
This new status played a huge role in more producers focusing on Brunello di Montalcino. And while it still isn’t quite as popular as its more famous brethren, it is fast-becoming one of the most beloved Italian wines.
At Xtrawine, we’d like to extend our congratulations to Roberto Giannelli and the San Filippo winery for their amazing achievement. And of course, you can find plenty of examples of brilliant Brunello di Montalcino vintages in our online store.