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Travel Thursdays - Montalcino & Brunello

Volume 107

 

Your Dream of Italy Becoming Reality


Montalcino Tuscany Italy

Exploring Montalcino

Nestled amid the rolling hills of Tuscany, Montalcino invites travelers into a realm of rich cultural heritage and timeless landscapes. The medieval town of Montalcino itself, crowned by a historic fortress, beckons with its narrow cobblestone streets and panoramic views that transport visitors to a bygone era. As you meander through this charming enclave, discover the artistry of local craftsmanship in quaint boutiques, and savor the authentic flavors of Tuscan cuisine in cozy trattorias.


Beyond the town's borders, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Val d'Orcia unfolds, showcasing postcard-perfect vistas dotted with cypress trees, ancient olive groves, and golden fields. Embrace the tranquility of the Abbey of Sant'Antimo, where Gregorian chants echo through the air, or venture into the vibrant countryside for leisurely strolls among vineyards and orchards. Montalcino's allure lies not only in its world-renowned wines but also in the immersive experiences that beckon you to appreciate the region's diverse offerings, from historical landmarks to the serenity of the Tuscan countryside.


Experiencing Brunello

In the heart of the Montalcino region, the illustrious Brunello di Montalcino wine takes center stage, weaving together a narrative steeped in history and distinctive flavors. Crafted predominantly from Sangiovese grapes, this red elixir has garnered international acclaim for its robust and complex profile, coupled with an impressive aging potential. The roots of Brunello trace back to the 19th century when visionary winemakers recognized the unique qualities of the Sangiovese Grosso clone, cultivating a wine that would mature gracefully over time. What sets Brunello apart is its requirement of a minimum aging period, with at least two years spent in oak barrels and four more in the bottle, resulting in a wine of unparalleled depth and character.

Brunello Wine

To fully appreciate the nuances of Brunello, a pilgrimage to the region's esteemed vineyards is a must. Begin your oenophilic journey at Banfi's sprawling estate, where the medieval castle serves as a backdrop to their exquisite Brunello. Poggio Antico, renowned for its commitment to traditional winemaking, offers an immersive tasting experience in the heart of their historic estate. Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona, Il Poggione, and Casanova di Neri, each with its unique winemaking philosophy, provide a curated selection of Brunello wines, allowing enthusiasts to explore the diverse expressions of this Tuscan gem. As you venture through these vineyards, the essence of Brunello unfolds, revealing not just a wine, but a timeless tradition deeply rooted in the captivating landscapes of Montalcino.


Comparing Wine of the Montalcino Region

Aspect

Brunello di Montalcino

Rosso di Montalcino

Chianti

Super Tuscan

Primary Grape

Sangiovese (Brunello clone)

Sangiovese

Sangiovese

Blend with non-traditional varieties

Aging Requirement

Minimum of 5 years (2 in oak, 4 in the bottle)

Minimum of 1 year in oak

Minimum of 4 months in oak for Chianti Classico

Varies, often aged in new French oak

Flavor Profile

Robust, complex, with aging potential

Fruit-forward with approachable structure

Varies: Classico is lighter; Riserva is richer

Rich and full-bodied with complex layers

Tannins

Higher tannins

Moderate tannins

Moderate tannins

Varies, often moderate to high

Acidity

Balanced acidity

Balanced acidity

Crisp acidity

Varies, can be moderate to high

Aroma and Bouquet

Intense and complex

Fruity with floral and herbal notes

Cherry and red fruit aromas

Varies, can include notes of dark fruit and spice

Food Pairing

Rich, hearty dishes such as red meats and aged cheeses

Versatile, pairs well with various dishes

Classic Italian fare, including pasta and pizza

Pair with grilled meats, game, or rich pasta dishes

Notable Regions

Montalcino region of Tuscany

Montalcino region of Tuscany

Chianti Classico, Tuscany

Tuscany, often outside traditional DOCG regions

Regulatory Designation

DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)

DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)

DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) for Chianti Classico

Varies, often IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)

Notable Examples

Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, Poggio Antico Brunello di Montalcino

Caparzo Rosso di Montalcino, Altesino Rosso di Montalcino

Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico, Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico

Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Tignanello

 

When navigating the vast selection of Brunello wines, enthusiasts should seek those labeled as Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, ensuring the highest quality and adherence to traditional winemaking practices. Look for characteristics such as intense fruit flavors, well-integrated tannins, and a harmonious balance that reflects the distinct terroir of the Montalcino region. As for food pairings, Brunello's bold personality calls for robust dishes like grilled meats, aged cheeses, or classic Tuscan fare such as wild boar stew. The wine's versatility allows it to complement both hearty winter dishes and lighter summer meals with equal finesse.


Siena, More Than Just The Wine

Siena serves as an excellent base for immersing yourself in the captivating allure of the Montalcino wine region. Nestled in the heart of Tuscany, this historic city offers a central location, making day trips to Montalcino's renowned vineyards and wineries a seamless and enjoyable experience. The convenience of transportation options, including trains and buses, allows for easy exploration of the picturesque landscapes surrounding Siena. While reveling in the charm of this UNESCO World Heritage site, you'll find a myriad of cultural attractions, such as the iconic Piazza del Campo and the magnificent Siena Cathedral. After indulging in the world of Montalcino's esteemed wines, return to Siena's vibrant streets where an array of dining options awaits, from traditional Tuscan dishes to international flavors.


Siena Italy

Beyond the enchanting wine experiences, Siena beckons with a tapestry of cultural and historical treasures. Lose yourself in the labyrinthine medieval streets, where each corner reveals a piece of the city's rich heritage. Discover the unique Palio di Siena, a historic horse race held twice a year in the Piazza del Campo, capturing the essence of Siena's spirited traditions. If time allows, venture into the surrounding towns of San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, each offering its own medieval charm and distinctive character. Siena, with its blend of wine country accessibility and cultural richness, promises an unforgettable journey through the heart of Tuscany.


Conclusion

As our journey through Montalcino and its exquisite wines comes to a close, the allure of this Tuscany gem extends beyond the robust and complex flavors of Brunello di Montalcino. From the medieval charm of the town to the postcard-perfect vistas of the Val d'Orcia, Montalcino invites visitors to savor not only its renowned wines but also the diverse offerings of its cultural and historical treasures. Whether strolling through the vineyards or immersing oneself in the labyrinthine medieval streets of Siena, the region paints a vivid picture of a dreamy Italian escape. As we bid farewell to this captivating journey, the memories of Montalcino's rich heritage and world-class wines linger, promising an unforgettable sojourn through the heart of Tuscany.

 
Michelle Wicks Cypher

Who Am I


I'm your guide to unforgettable European voyages, curated for wine connoisseurs, food enthusiasts, golfers and culture aficionados, ensuring each journey is a masterpiece of taste, history, and connection.


Michelle Wicks Cypher

425-361-5212

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