The name “Brunello” is an unofficial synonym in the local dialect for the grape variety “Sangiovese Grosso”, which grows on the hills of Montalcino.
This grape variety has very small grapes and the vines have a very low output, which has always been one of the main problems of the local wine producers. For this reasons they mixed different grape varieties to produce their red wine. But soon the most able producers started experimenting making a red wine from only one variety. In the mid-19th century, a local farmer named Clemente Santi isolated certain plantings of Sangiovese vines in order to produce a 100% varietal wine that could be aged for a considerable period of time. In 1888, his grandson Ferruccio Biondi-Santi released the first "modern version" of brunello di Montalcino that was aged for over a decade in large wood barrels. In that way they obtained a full-bodied, warm, harmonic, velvety and superior wine. The wine was named after the local name for the grape variety: Brunello.
Grape varieties – min. alcohol content – ageing and regulations
Grape variety: exclusively Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello di Montalcino).
Ageing: at least five years of which two years in oak barrels and four months in the bottle before release.
Denominations: The requirements for a „Riserva“ are stricter than for the normale Montalcino. It has to age for six years of which two in oak barrels and six months in the bottle before release.
Serving temperature and food pairing of brunello di Montalcino
A good brunello di Montalcino has a very long durability and can endure a century and more gaining taste from year to year. It’s one of Italy’s best-known and most wanted wines. It’s paired well with roast (red meat), game and grilled meat. The serving temperature is 20-22°C and the bottle should be opened at least 24 hours before drinking. For its old and strong character brunello di Montalcino should not be paired with fish or white meat.