Brunello di Montalcino has always been one of the pillars of great Italian wine-making due to the incredible natural conditions of the village and its surrounding vineyards, the tradition and savoir faire among generations of winemakers who have worked the vines boy to man. The region has been overshadowed somewhat by the rise of the Super Tuscans, yet not forgotten. Last year the fanfare of the 2010 vintage re-established Brunello di Montalcino as a grand wine in the mind of a new generation of wine drinkers: Brunello is back!
The 2011 vintage is another high quality vintage, with excellent balance, concentration of fruit and ageing capacity, yet ready to be consumed now. We will not provide the same coverage of the 2011 vintage, we will only focus on the truly sublime estates which deserve attention every year. Gaja’s Pieve Santa Resituta is certainly that and priced at £160 per case of six, or £34 per bottle including duty and VAT, this represents incredible value for money. Today’s pre-release precedes any published score from any leading critics, yet as one of Gaja’s leading Estates at this price it is a no brainer!
Gaja is one of the great wine names of Italy and the world, known best for his Barbarescos and Barolos, which created a new paradigm in Italian winemaking. In the 1980s, after establishing himself as a true winemaking virtuoso, he quickly realised that all of the best vineyards in Piedmont had been bought up. This was largely thanks to his flagship wines cementing prices that could compete with leading Bordeaux and resultantly leading terroir in this region to become goldmines. As such he naturally turned his attention to Italy’s traditionally most prestigious red wine, Brunello di Montalcino. In 1994 he acquired his first property in Tuscany, Pieve Santa Restituta, a glorious 16 hectares vineyard in Brunello di Montalcino. Gaja’s two decades of work in Brunello di Montalcino, synthesising his winemaking methods in Piedmonte and applying them to Sangiovese, resulted in the release of his first vintage of Brunello in 2005.
Brunello di Montalcino is cited south of Chianti which is warmer and drier meaning the grapes are harvested when riper, with slightly higher alcohol. Montalcino is built around a large hill, with a higher altitude than Bolgheri and also higher than Chianti, producing smaller berries with a smaller pulp to skin ratio; this means greater concentration and tannic grip. The prices remain enticingly low, as it is one of the only great wine regions in the world where price has not caught up to quality, although this is soon to change!
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