Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino 2011
Following 2010 is always going to be a challenging task, but I'm relieved to say that 2011 Biondi Santi is an absolute joy. The nose and palate are refined, pure, and exhibit a beautiful, airy red cherry interwoven with subtle oak characteristics. This is wine still growing into itself, almost like a great young Volnay, there is headroom for the palate to expand. Most impressive of all is the length, excellent tannins taper and build exquisitely. 2010 will impress with its weight and power, but 2011 will impress equally with its finesse and ethereal finish.
Italian winemaker and oenologist, Franco Biondi Santi, is well-known in the wine world for producing Brunello di Montalcino from his vineyard 'Brunello del Greppo,' in Tuscany. Now onto the seventh generation producing wine on their estate, the Biondi-Santis are believers in traditional viticulture techniques and are continually looking for ways to update and innovate their methods while still staying true to Italian practice.
Brunello del Greppo is a 25-hectare, traditional Italian wine estate full of rich history dating back to the 1800s. Clemente Santi was the first in his family to produce long-lasting red wines, highly suitable for aging, a concept that was ground-breaking at the time. He combined his oenological knowledge with chemistry and established what is known today as one of Italy's most reputable wine estates.
This 150-hectare property, which abuts Costanti's estate, has 26 hectares of vineyard split over three sites. The oldest of these plots is Il Greppo, laying at 500 meters above sea level; this is where the winery and house are situated. They also have vines down the hill to the east of Montalcino and the north, close to Montosoli. Vineyards between 10 and 25 years of age are used for Brunello. The vines are planted in soils characterized by heavy stone and marl, which helps reduce vigor and aid concentration of flavor in the grapes.
When Franco Biondi-Santi was in charge, the winery harvested their grapes relatively early. However, Biondi-Santi now opts for a later harvest, which allows for riper grapes and softer tannins. Fermentation was carried out on the skins for two weeks in concrete tanks at controlled temperatures, not exceeding 30ºC. After vinification, the wine was aged in Slavonian oak barrels for 36 months. It also spent time in the bottle before release.