The Hill of Montalcino has several pedological environments
Montalcino, the land of Wine
Montalcino, forty kilometers south of the city of Siena, is a stunning hilltop town in the heart of Tuscany. With rolling hills and farmland of rare beauty, it has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2004.
Montalcino’s distinctive mount is mostly surrounded by forest.
Vineyards and olive groves fill the countryside, and many historical stone buildings are witness to centuries of cultivation in this area.
Montalcino and the villages
are picturesque hamlets with an overall population just over five thousand inhabitants.
The area where the wines of Montalcino are made coincides with the historical borders of the Municipality of Montalcino, covering a surface area of 24,000 hectares, only 15% of which occupied by vineyards.
The zone is roughly a square bordered by the rivers Ombrone, Asso, and Orcia.
The soils of Montalcino vary, due to its formation over different geological ages. The lowest areas are made up of relatively loose soils. As one moves up the hill, the soil becomes dense with stony particles formed by the decomposition of the original marl and limestone.
As the crow flies, Montalcino is 40 km away from the sea and 100 km from the Apennines. It boasts a Mediterranean climate: it tends to be dry, but has occasional continental conditions, given its position between the coast and the mountains. Precipitation occurs mostly in spring and late autumn (yearly average rainfall: 700 mm). Snow is possible during winter at heights above 400 meters. Fog, ice, and late frost are rare on the hillside, in part due to the wind, which provides an optimal habitat for the healthy growth of the vines. Mount Amiata to the South, at 1740 meters, protects the territory
of Montalcino from weather hazards like storms and hail.
The climate is prevalently mild during the entire growing phase of the grapevines, with many clear days that allow for a gradual and full ripening of the fruit.
The range of slopes with different exposure, the extremely hilly terrain, and the varying heights from 120 to 650 meters above sea level between the valley areas and the highest zones (Poggio della Civitella), create distinctive microclimates, even in close proximity.
The most widespread training method used for the vines is the spurred cordon, which is obtained by way of a spur pruning (double buds) of a variable number of spurs per vine.
The exceptional quality of Brunello di Montalcino starts in the vineyard – with meticulous manual labor, dry pruning, and the selection of the best shoots, and from canopy management to elimination of bunches – all the processes share the goal of producing and harvesting the best fruit. Some winemakers perform another selection at harvest, so that only the most perfect grapes are brought to the wine cellar.
Montalcino a few words on the history
The origin of the name Montalcino is shrouded in mystery
What is in a name? The origin of the name Montalcino is shrouded in mystery. It may come from Mons Lucinus, the Latin name for mount of Lucina, after the Roman goddess. Others, instead, link the name to Mons Ilcinus (Mount of the Lecci, Italian for holm oaks). The image of three holm oaks on the Montalcino town coat of arms would suggest the latter theory.
Over the centuries, Montalcino faced fierce military conflict, first against Siena, but later allied with Siena against Florence.
Considered an impenetrable stronghold, Montalcino was protected by walls and a great fortress. When Cosimo de’ Medici took over the city in 1559, the town was the last independent municipality in Italy.
The terroir of Montalcino offers optimum conditions for the production of high quality wine. Archaeological finds dating to the Etruscan age would suggest that wine has been made here for over two thousand years.
During the Middle Ages, regulations established how wine was to be made, stating clearly when grapes were to be harvested. From then on, even during the siege of 1553, there was no shortage of wine.
Throughout history, foreign visitors and Italians alike have commented on the exceptional quality of the wine from this area. "Montalcino is not particularly famous, except for the goodness of its wines” (Charles Thompson, 1744).
Montalcino and Brunello
Brunello di Montalcino, The Story of a Great Wine
Brunello di Montalcino traces its roots to the 19th century when local farmers began experimenting
with a native grape variety cultivated in the surrounding territory.
This grape, known as "Brunello" or “Brunellino”, was identified as a variety of Sangiovese.
The delectable wine produced from this fruit can be aged for years, richly enhancing its value..
The Grapevine Classification Board of Siena issued a report on a particular Brunello that had been aged for 32 years from grapes harvested in 1843. It states that the wine was perfectly preserved, displaying its typical qualities, unchanged over time.
The founding father of Brunello di Montalcino was Clemente Santi. In 1869, his 1865 vintage was awarded a silver medal by the Agrarian Committee of Montepulciano. In the years following, this Brunello was awarded other significant international recognition, and was preferred to French wine even in Paris and Bordeaux.
For several years, Brunello remained a prestigious wine, the province of just a few refined connoisseurs. Only in the second half of the 20th century did it transition from an exquisite delicacy known by the elite to an international symbol of the finest Italian wine.
With the introduction of the DOC quality appellation (Denomination of Origin Controlled), Brunello rose to the ranks of the eight most important Italian wines bearing that designation. In 1966, it became a DOC wine, and a year later the Brunello Consortium was founded. In 1980, it was the first wine to become DOCG (Denomination of Origin Controlled and Guaranteed), a superior designation for select wines in Italy bearing a specific seal from the government.
The small quantity produced made export difficult. Efforts to market Brunello took off in the ‘70s, but the global market was only conquered after 1980, thanks to the growing number of wineries and bottles produced. Montalcino also led the way in wine tourism, with the first open cellars, guided tours, and a region that welcomes thousands of visitors from all over the world every year. Countless acknowldgements attest to the quality of the wine: in 1999, "Wine Spectator" listed Brunello among the 12 best wines of the 21st century. In 2006, Brunello was crowned the absolute best in a worldwide ranking.