Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy's most famous and prestigious wines. In Tuscany, its homeland, it perhaps ranks alongside Chianti Classico. All Brunello di Montalcino wine is made exclusively from Sangiovese Grosso grape (a clone of Sangiovese) grown on the slopes around Montalcino – a village 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Siena.

DOCG regulations require Brunello vineyards to be planted on hills with good sun exposure, at altitudes not surpassing 600 meters (1968ft). This limit is intended to ensure the grapes reach optimal ripeness and flavor before being harvested. Any higher than 600m and the mesoclimate becomes cooler to the point of unreliability. Fortunately the climate in Montalcino is one of the warmest and driest in Tuscany. Achieving full ripeness is consequently a rarely encountered problem for Brunello's vignerons. In good years the Sangiovese Grosso grapes ripen up to a week earlier than those in nearby Chianti and Montepulciano.

According to the disciplinare di produzione (the legal document laying out the wine's production laws) for Brunello di Montalcino, Brunello must be made from 100 percent Sangiovese and aged for at least four years (five for riserva wines). Two of these years must be spent in oak, and the wine must be bottled at least four months prior to commercial release.

The wine is typically garnet in color with aromas of red and black fruit with underlying vanilla and spice, and perhaps a hint of earthiness. The wines are usually full bodied with alcohol levels around 14 or 15 percent abv. Good tannic structure and bright acidity provides balance.

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