|The founding father of the Brunello of Montalcino was, without a doubt, Clemente Santi. In 1869, a Choice Wine (Brunello) of his from the grape harvest of 1865 was awarded a silver medal by the Agrarian Committe of Montepulciano. In the years that follow, the Brunello is awarded other important international acknowledgments, being preferred over French red wines even in Paris and Bordeaux.
For several years, the Brunello remained a rare wine reserved to only few refined connoisseurs. Only in the second half of the 20th century did it change from being an exquisite delicacy available to elite members to becoming a universal symbol worldwide of the finest Made in Italy.
With the introduction of the DOC quality brand (a guarantee of origin attributed to Italian wines), the Brunello is brought to the forefront and numbers amongst the first eight wines to which the "denominazione di origine" or "guarantee of origin" is conferred.In 1966, the Brunello of Montalcino becomes a DOC wine, and a year later, its own Consortium is founded. In 1980, it is the first wine to be branded a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, a guarantee of superior origin reserved to selected wines in Italy), and from that moment onward, all of its bottles are sealed with a seal of the State that guarantees their origin.
However, the quantity of Brunello made is still too small to grant its affirmation on an international level. The first wine cellar to have a true sales network appears in the 70's, but the global market is only conquered by Brunello wine after 1980, thanks, too, to the growing number of wine cellars and bottles produced. Montalcino also has the merit of paving the way to the "tourism of Italian wine", with the first cellars that are open to guided tours, and a territory that on a whole welcomes thousands of visitors from all over the world each year.
The acknowledgments that attest to the quality of the wine are countless: in 1999, the prestigious U.S. magazine "Wine Spectator" lists a Brunello wine among the 12 best ever wines of the 21st century, and in 2006, a Brunello wine is crowned the absolute best in a worldwide ranking.
|A Brunello label dating back to 1895
(Ilio Raffaeli, Riccardo Paccagnini: a pioneer of Brunello, Massa, 1990).
Report of the ampelographic committee of the province of Siena, 1876.