A few years back I did an article featuring the Romanic Wines of Italy in celebration of Valentine’s Day. One of the wines I recommended was a Brunello di Montalcino from the producer Marchesi de Frescobaldi. It is still one of my favorites to share with my Valentine and a box of chocolates. And while the Italians may not have invented LOVE, I grew up watching Sophia Loren, so I believe they perfected it. And then there is the language of love sung by the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli. Not to mention the food and wine. AMORE!
As the name implies, the wine comes from the hilltop town of Montalcino in the Tuscany region of Italy. Even through the first mention of Montalcino, a fortress, in historical documents wasn't until 814 AD, it is believed to have been settled well before then. However, it wasn’t until the 14th century that the red wine Brunello was first recorded. Brunello is a Sangiovese clone. And, as I am sure you know, Sangiovese is is the grape that produces Chianti, another favorite Italian wine.
The first rules governing the production of Brunello weren't established until the late 1880’s and the wine did not gain Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) or official status until 1968. The number of producers has grown from 11 in the 1960's to over 200 today. Montalcino was the first wine region to gain Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) status in 1980. However, it wasn’t until 1998 that the current aging requirements, requiring Brunello be aged in wood for a minimum of 2 years and at least 4 months of aging in the bottle before release were established.
What all this means is that the Brunello di Montalcino wines come to us with smooth tannins and ripe fruit character. These wines usually reach their prime in six to eight years, but will continue to age well for 20+ years. Brunello di Montalcino pairs well with all grilled meats and wild game. And, since the United States is the largest importer of Brunello di Montalcino importing an estimated 25% of the estimated 500,000 cases produced each year, you shouldn’t have a problem finding a bottle to share with your Valentine.
And while you’re out celebrating with your Valentine, please remember to drink responsibly. I need all my friends and that means you! Amore!
Until next time, Cheers🍷