Brunello di Montalcino and the charm of CastelGiocondo
The Origin of Brunello
“Well known for the good wines that come from those beautiful hills”.
This is how the philosopher Leandro Alberti described the town of Montalcino between the end of the 1500s and the beginning of the 1600s. (source: WineNews)
For many centuries, this locality has been renowned for the quality of the soil that guarantees the birth of great wines. But it was only in 1869 that Clemente Santi, pharmacist and author in the field of natural sciences, won two silver medals for the invention of a new red wine called “Brunello”, at the Fiera Agricola Montepulciano. (source: Consorzio del Brunello)
Following Santi’s example, other local families began to produce Brunello, winning numerous awards over the years in the most prestigious national and international agricultural and wine fairs.
Like all Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, Brunello di Montalcino follows rigorous production norms which allow it to attain the high organoleptic qualities recognized the world over.
The Production of Brunello
Among the rules established for its production, there is of course the exclusive use of Sangiovese grapes, also known as “Brunello” in the Montalcino area. (source: Policy Document)
The cultivation conditions of the vineyards must meet specific requirements, such as the hilly position of the vines and the prohibition of any forcing.
The wine must also be aged for a period of at least two years in oak barrels and at least four months in the bottle. It cannot be released for consumption before 1 January of the year following the five-year term calculated from the harvest vintage. (source: Policy Document)
Brunello and the CastelGiocondo Estate
At CastelGiocondo, an ancient and charming estate on the Montalcino hill, Brunello has also been produced since its invention. (source: Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino)
Owned today by the Frescobaldi family, the estate is not only a landmark for Montalcino and Brunello, but also a place where nature and art blend together in a combination of history and wonder.
Enriched by an enchanting castle and a medieval village, the vineyards of the CastelGiocondo estate enjoy very advantageous conditions for enhancing Sangiovese: an altitude of about 300 meters, perfect sun exposure to the south-west and well draining marl soils. Kissed by the sun and good fortune, CastelGiocondo is an area where climate, soil and history come together to create a truly unique Brunello di Montalcino.
The place is iconic, but even more importantly, it is highly representative of the unbreakable bond between the Frescobaldi family and this wine that is appreciated the world over; a wine capable of representing and sharing the soul and beauty of Tuscany everywhere.
And to make this journey even more complete and rich in detail, we want to tell you everything that makes each vintage special and appreciated.
Let's start with the most recent year, 2016, very challenging but in the end considered one of the best ever! A mild winter, which resulted in a slightly earlier bud break than normal, followed by a temperate spring with several rains that led to a not very summer-like June with temperatures below the average for the period. Summer was hot without extremes, with some welcome rains in August, guaranteeing an excellent physiological state for the vines, and perfectly healthy grapes. But it was the last ten days of September, full of sun and temperature variations that gave us fragrant, very ripe, healthy and perfectly balanced grapes.
The result was a 2016 Brunello CastelGiocondo capable of revealing itself beautifully: an intense and lively ruby red colour and a ample, extremely elegant bouquet rich in fruity sensations. Then spicy scents and a balsamic hint are released, making it extremely balanced and complex. The mouthfeel reveals a dense and elegant tannic texture which, together with its characteristic mineral sensation, envelops the palate and impresses with its harmony. The finish is long, warm and persistent, with the return of sweet and balsamic spicy components.
Balsamic reminiscent of the notes the 2015 vintage gave us, in which the alcoholic component is balanced by a fresh balsamic and savoury mineral sensation that accompanies the very long finish, typical of Brunello CastelGiocondo’s great vintages (also awarded 97 points by James Suckling). Sangiovese del Brunello di Montalcino CastelGiocondo 2015 sprouted during the first week of April and continued to grow regularly, taking advantage of the abundant water reserves left since 2014 and rainfall in the normal 2015 winter. The dry and sunny climate continued for the season. July was very hot and dry, but with the agronomic choices that we have been sustained for years, the vines have not been excessively affected by higher temperatures. In the first week of August, two important rains offered relief to the plants and lowered the temperatures allowing the vines to synthesize aromas, anthocyanins and tannins. The result? A CastelGiocondo Brunello 2015 that visually features a deep ruby red color, while on the nose, very clear aromas of wild berries and sour cherries in alcohol are expressed. Cinnamon, tobacco, mint and tea leaves make up a very complex aromatic picture where each component alternates without dominating the others. Mouthfeel is enveloping, with velvety tannins that offer creamy sensation.
Another vintage that we will surely remember is 2014. The winter season was characterized by rather mild temperatures, atypical, to say the least, for the time of year. In spring, the days immediately became sunny and warm. On the other hand, the cool summer featured abundant rains and favoured a longer vegetative development. The lack of rain, the sun and the large day-night temperature variations in the second half of September accelerated ripening, delivering grapes rich and full of aromatic, colouring and structural components. The resulting Brunello di CastelGiocondo 2014 satisfies the sense of sight before anything other. Right way it reveals an intense and brilliant ruby red colour. On the nose, fruity notes dominate, ranging from raspberry to currant, with vague hints of blueberry and an elegant note of violets that emerges after a few moments. Leaving it open, spicy notes due to the long aging are released. Cinnamon, pepper, leather follow one after the other; on the finish it surprises a balsamic hint. The mouthfeel is completely enveloping and impressive with its harmony, its dense tannic texture and the mineral sensation…
The mouthfeel is very reminiscent of Brunello CastelGiocondo 2013, which visually presents an intense ruby red colour. On the nose aromas of raspberry and red fruits are expressed, enriched by elegant notes of violets. A vintage to remember, with its 96 points from Wine Enthusiast it ranks among the TOP 10 Brunello di Montalcino of 2017. The 2013 wine year, unlike others, was more regular: spring and an early summer saw frequent and rains distributed over time. This allowed the vineyards to develop without the weather presenting obstacles. Afterwards, a hot summer but without spikes in temperature, started the veraison phase with the best conditions. During the final phase of ripening, thanks to a favourable alternation of cool nights and sunny days, the grapes accumulated rich quantities of noble substances, such as anthocyanins and tannins, preserving the delicate varietal aromas.
We end our journey with the 2012 wine year, which was characterized by high temperatures during the summer season and low rainfall. The seasonal tended to be particularly dry, which favoured the harmonious development of the grapes. The harvest is remembered as one of the longest, but our grapes maintained perfect conditions to the end. The light and warmth of 2012 helped give the CastelGiocondo wines extraordinary power and richness. CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2012 expresses itself with clear aromas of raspberry and pomegranate enriched with elegant floral notes. With a precise and harmonious mouthfeel, an elegant tannic texture and a long savoury and mineral sensation is articulated, very similar to other vintages.
The previous vintage, CastelGiocondo 2011, gave us a Brunello enriched with tannic notes, expressing the same bouquet on the nose and visually, an intense ruby red colour. This Brunello di Montalcino vintage had a regular course. Spring had good rainfall and mild temperatures, the first part of the hot summer and with pleasant temperatures allowed the vines and grapes to develop in optimal conditions . In the second half of August there was a temperature increase which allowed an extraordinary ripening of the Sangiovese. When harvested, the grapes were very concentrated, intensely coloured and in an excellent state of health.
We end this panorama with a vintage that is distant in time, but which has received important awards. CastelGiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2010, with 97 points by James Suckling (Top 100 Brunelli n° 9, Best Wine of the Year 2014 and 2015). The CastelGiocondo 2010 harvest ended on 20 October. The spring, marked by frequent rains that challenged winegrowers in the management of the vegetation and for the health, did much to refill aquifers. The summer months were characterized by a homogeneous alternation of moderate rainfall and sunny days. Finally, September featured an ideal climate with cool nights and warm and sunny days until the end of the harvest. The vines were at their best and the grapes arrived in the cellar at an optimal degree of ripeness. The aromas of warm minerals, black fruits and nuts of the vintage are enjoyable. The body is full and tannic, with a long and persistent finish. Savory nuances lend a wonderful succulence to the wine.