From Zanardi to three starred sommeliers: the curtain goes up on Benvenuto Brunello

Alex Zanardi will create the tile to pay tribute to the 2018 vintage

For four days Montalcino will be at the centre of the oenological world. From tomorrow to 18 February, thousands of industry experts and ordinary wine enthusiasts will gather in the splendid Sant’Agostino Cloisters for preview tastings of the wines of 127 of the area’s wineries, and in the Teatro degli Astrusi, the venue for debates, round tables, prize-givings and, lastly, presentation of the 2018 vintage, celebrated by the paralympic champion, Alex Zanardi.

Intense anticipation is focused on the vintages launched on the market this year (Brunello 2014, Brunello Riserva 2013, Rosso 2017, Moscadello and Sant’Antimo). The first to taste them tomorrow will be Italian and foreign journalists, who will also be able to take part in the debate on Brunello and French wines (Teatro degli Astrusi at 11.00am), with journalist Federico Quaranta, Giampiero Bertolini, Managing Director of Tenuta Biondi Santi Il Greppo (where Brunello di Montalcino originated at the end of the 19th century), Chateau Giscours and Chateau Du Tertre winemaker Lorenzo Pasquini, and Jerome Gautheret, Le Monde’s Italy correspondent and owner of Maison Louis Latour.

16 February is opening day for trade visitors and wine lovers (who will be able to taste the wines until 18 February, click here for tickets). Also held at the Teatro degli Astrusi, starting from 10.30, will be presentation of the Leccio d’Oro and the Giulio Gambelli 2019 Prize, and the round table on talking about wine on television, together with noted faces from the small screen, RAI 2’s Marcello Masi and Rocco Tolfa and TG5’s Gioacchino Bonsignore, together with Monique Soltani from the American series, Wine Oh TV.

Patrizio Cencioni, president of the Brunello Consortium

Then, the most eagerly-awaited moment: Alex Zanardi, racing driver and paracyclist, will present the tile he has created to pay tribute to the 2018 vintage, featuring the stars (from 1 to 5) awarded by the Tasting Committee. “Zanardi – explains Patrizio Cencioni, president of the Brunello Consortium – is a true celebrity. He has great humanity, character and will power, three qualities that we wine growers must also have to go forward and do always better”.

But the surprises do not end here, because taking part in Benvenuto Brunello will also be twenty sommeliers and cellar managers from Italy’s starred restaurants, including 7 of the 10 three starred.