Brunello’s homeland and namesake comes 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.
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. Brunello 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 Brunello and Brunello 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 black berries, 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. Enjoy Brunello di Montalcino from one of these three world-renowned producers: Costanti and Fuligni.