Ferruccio took his
grandfather’s clone of the Sangiovese grape, known as Sangiovese Grosso and
identified as BBS11, to produce the inaugural Biondi-Santi Brunello di
Montalcino. At this time, the prized wine of Montalcino was not a red but
rather, a sweet white, Moscadello di Montalcino, derived from the Muscat grape.
Ferruccio’s pioneering spirit that embraced experimentation with clones, low
yields, long maceration periods, long aging in wood, and cellar aging changed
the history of Brunello.
With each generation
at Biondi-Santi, Ferruccio’s vision advances a step further. His son, Tancredi,
assumed control of the estate in 1922, effectually becoming the ambassador for
Montalcino’s wines. More importantly, he possessed the insight to stock vintage
wines—including the legendary 1888 and 1891—under lock and key. In 1927,
he instituted the custom of topping off old bottles with wine from the same
vintage and then recorking them, thus ensuring the integrity and age-worthiness
of the wine. Indeed, Tancredi wrote the standards for the DOC that eventually
formed the law regulating Brunello production.
guidance, the wines of Biondi-Santi achieved legendary status. Tancredi’s 1970
recorking ceremony attracted worldwide attention, as his 82-year-old wine
evidenced unprecedented youth and splendor. Tancredi turned the estate over to
his son, Franco, who further solidified Il Greppo’s place in history. Until his
passing in April 2013 at the age of 91, Franco Biondi-Santi, known as both “Il
Dottore” and the “Gentleman of Montalcino,” ran the estate, producing nearly
70,000 bottles a year of classic, traditional, collectable wines.
Biondi-Santi’s lean, aromatic and thoroughly remarkable Brunellos are best
known for their incredible ability to age. Even 100-year-old Brunello from
Biondi-Santi shows remarkably well.
Biondi Santi releases
both an Annata, or normale bottling, and a Riserva bottling, making both only
in good vintages and the latter only in great. While the Annata derives from
vines between the ages of ten and 15 years, the Riserva derives from older
vines between 25 and 80 years of age. sourced primarily from the iconic,
historic Greppo plot. Grapes for both wines are sourced primarily from the
Greppo plot, which consists of stony galestro soil intermixed with tufaceous
clay. Biondi-Santi’s trademark aromatics and acidity, however, is attributable
to the vineyard’s altitude that ranges between 1,300-1,600 feet above sea
level. Both the Annata and the Riserva undergo fermentation in traditional
Slavonian oak for 18 days, followed by aging in large oak casks of 800 to 7,000
liters for a period of two to three years, and the Riserva is released six
years after the harvest.
The late great Franco
Biondi Santi always said he wanted to make wines that were never old enough to
drink, and the 1982 Riserva we offer today illustrates how long-aging,
cellar-worthy and infinitely beautiful his wines were. To enjoy a Biondi-Santi
Brunello as Franco would, slowly aerate it before drinking: uncork the wine,
pour out about an ounce or two to increase the air-to-wine ratio in the bottle,
and let the wine breathe slowly for approximately eight hours. Then, take your
time to enjoy each and every sip.