Consorzio del Vino
Brunello di Montalcino®




Nomisma research: Italy vs. France, the grand derby in figures





The preview event for the great Tuscan red offers many opportunities for learning and discussion with international guests, expert in the world of wine. In 2018, 

8 million bottles of Brunello were produced and 4.5 million of Rosso, for a turnover of 160 million euro. Exports were steady at 70% of total production.

Over 20 sommeliers and cellar managers from famous Michelin-starred restaurants, invited by the Consortium, are attending the event.


Montalcino, 15 February 2019 - Today sees the opening of the 27th edition of Benvenuto Brunello, the preview event for the great Tuscan red, this year presenting Brunello di Montalcino 2014, Riserva 2013, Rosso di Montalcino 2017, Moscadello and Sant'Antimo


"The 2014 vintage was a real challenge", says Consortium Chairman Patrizio Cencioni, "but today, thanks to the joint efforts of producers and oenologists, we can say it's been won on the market. This was a vintage marked by climatic difficulties and therefore very demanding, which led to reduced production, estimated at 6 million bottles, down 30% from our standard. Only with excellent work in the vineyards and in the fermentation phase were we able to transform the product in the cellar, into wine suited to the Brunello fame."


Together with the wines, always the absolute stars of the event, again this year the Consortium also offers opportunities for discussion and study, providing food for thought to the producers, trade operators and participants from the general public. The focus of today's debate is the comparison between Brunello and French wines.


The first session, led by the Corriere della Sera journalist Luciano Ferraro, opened with a presentation of the newly released results from Nomisma's research into Italian and French standings in the area of bottled wine exports, comparing the PDO reds of the three designated Italian regions (Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto) with those of the French regions (Bordeaux, Burgundy). What we see is a great derby, where France skilfully exploits past advantage to stave off the threat from the rising Italian cousin, recognised as equal in quality but still growing in numbers. The US market is very strong for both countries, and here Brunello holds the Italian flag high. In the Asian area (China, Hong Kong and Japan), French wines still reign; however, the Italian market shows more signs of opportunity in China, where France is slowing remarkably (-17% in the first half of 2018). Looking at Brunello in particular, penetration in the three Asian countries rises to 15% of total exports: not yet at the levels of French wines, but still twice as much as the average of the other Italian reds. The gap between the average export prices of the two countries remains substantial: while the French reds sell for average prices of around 6.00 euro per litre, the Italian wines go for only 4.64 euro per litre, and the difference is even greater for the PDO reds, where French wines are exported at 9.10 euro per litre compared to 5.50 euro for the Italian ones. 


A last aspect of the comparison puts everything on equal footing - at least as detected from Nomisma's sample of the US public: there, the great Italian reds signify Tradition, Relaxation, Enjoyment, while those from the other side of the Alps mean Creativity, Elegance, Exclusivity. 


Having set out this scenario, Nomisma’s research next shed light on the positioning for Brunello, by tracing the identikit of the "typical” Brunello consumer in the two reference markets - Italy and the US. For the local market, Nomisma surveyed a sample of 1,000 Italian wine consumers: these recognise Brunello above all for its excellent quality (35% of those interviewed), and as a status symbol (25%) or "cult object". The Brunello consumer is most typically a man, between age 36 and 51, employed and with an advanced education (bachelor's degree or higher), resident in Central Italy, and with a monthly income greater than 2,500 euro. This "typical consumer" also loves wine tourism, drinks wine at least once a week, seeks information prior to purchasing, and sometimes buys online. For the US, Nomisma examined the so-called "frequent users" of fine wines (those who consume them at least 2-3 times per week), analysing a sample of 2,400 wine consumers resident in New York, New Jersey, Florida and California. Here the identikit is that of a younger consumer, between age 21 and 35, with medium-high educational qualifications and high income (over $75,000/year), most likely resident in New York or New Jersey, who has also visited Italy over the past year. 

A study conducted by the authoritative daily online communications agency Winenews, on the growth of value per hectare of vineyards, also provides food for thought. Over several years, and taking account of the most recent acquisitions, the average price in Montalcino has soared to 700,000 euro per hectare, with peaks of more than 900,000 euro. "Since 1966, the year DOC recognition was awarded, the increase in value has been 4,500%: a stunning record, which brings the vineyards of Montalcino to 'sit' on the Mount Olympus of the world's most valuable, and at the top of the Italian ones, along with Barolo", says the sectoral reference portal.  


Today and tomorrow (February 15-16), Benvenuto Brunello is further graced by the presence of 20 sommeliers and cellar managers from some of Italy's most famous restaurants, with and without Michelin stars. The Consortium's invitation to these representatives provides further proof of the constant interest and the links between Brunello and the world of Italian haute cuisine. The guest list extends from north to south, ranging from the sommeliers of Piazza Duomo in Alba and the Antica Corona Reale of Cervere (both in the province of Cuneo), to those of Milan, from Il Seta by Antonio Guida, Barbacoa and Vun Milan, as well as the sommelier Valentina Bertini (Terrazza Gallia), recently recognised as "Sommelier of the Year" by Espresso Guides; then St. Hubertus of San Cassiano, Locanda Margon of Ravina (Trento), and Le Calandre of Rubano (Padua); also attending are the sommeliers of Dal Pescatore in Runate (Mantua), and San Domenico of Imola, Uliassi of Senigallia (Ancona), Caino of Montemerano (Grosseto), the Enoteca Pinchiorri of Florence, Il Pagliaccio of Rome, L'Olivo of Anacapri, the Reale of L'Aquila and finally Locanda Don Serafino in Ragusa.


Tomorrow, Saturday 16 February, is the occasion for a round table entitled “Il racconto del vino in TV” [The story of wine on TV] with the well-known media figures Marcello Masi and Rocco Tolfa of Rai2, Gioacchino Bonsignore of Tg5, and Monique Soltani of the syndicated American show "Wine Oh TV". The debate is chaired by Luciano Ferraro, with Marcello Masi and Rocco Tolfa. 

The round table will close the Saturday program for Benvenuto Brunello, which as usual, includes the award of the Leccio d'Oro prizes, the presentation of the stars of the 2018 harvest and the unveiling of the celebratory tile for the vintage. 


See all the updates from Benvenuto Brunello on the Consortium website or follow us on social media at official hashtags #bb2019 and #BenvenutoBrunello2019, @brunellodimontalcino, @ConsBrunello and @brunellodimontalcino. 



2018 data:

As always, Benvenuto Brunello is the occasion to wrap up the figures on all the trends in production, exports and turnover of the Consortium's appellations, and for the Montalcino area in general. In this regard the year 2018 saw the production of 8 million bottles of Brunello, down slightly from the previous year, and 4.5 million bottles of Rosso, continuing a stable trend from 2017. Exports held firm at 70% of total production, with the US at the top of the list, followed by Europe, the Asian markets, Canada and Central and South America. The turnover for the Montalcino wine sector amounted to 160 million euro. Finally, the region registered an increase of 10% in tourist flows, compared to the 1.5 million visitors of the previous year, and a 20% rise in overnight stays, compared to the 2017 total of 150,000.