Tuscany is known for a lot of wines including Sassicaia, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Today’s topic is the sibling of Brunello: Rosso di Montalcino. Just like Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino is produced around the medieval town Montalcino in the heart of Tuscany. The small town with a population of just 5000 was founded in the 800s and played a crucial role in the conflicts between the Republic of Florence and the Republic of Siena. Long story short: Siena lost the wars against Florence and Montalcino fell to the Florentines which ruled the city until Italy was united in 1861.
Now what does this have to do with wine? Actually quite a lot! After the Florentines sized control over Montalcino they started to plant vines, especially white muscat grapes, around the hill upon which the city is built. In fact until the middle of 19th century Moscadello di Montalcino, a sweet white wine, was the most prestigious wine of the city. Back then nobody knew that soon a Sangiovese-based wine would take the place of Moscadello di Montalcino.
In the 1850s, Clemente Santi, an oenologist from Montalcino, began to study the different types of Sangiovese clones. He came to the conclusion that Sangiovese Grosso was best fit for red wine production. His nephew Ferruccio Biondi-Santi planted the first Sangiovese Grosso in Montalcino. The grapes were locally known as Brunello because of their dark color. Clemente named the wine Brunello di Montalcino. The Biondi-Santi family still produces Brunello di Montalcino today.
In 1966, Brunello di Montalcino became one of Italy’s first DOC wines. In 1980 Brunello was upgraded to DOCG status. One of the DOCG regulations for Brunello is that the wine has to age at least five years before it can be put on the market. At least for two out of the five years the wine has to age in oak. The Furthermore, it has to be produced with 100% Sangiovese grapes. The long aging process makes Brunello quite expensive and became a serious problem for many wineries. Therefore in 1983 Brunello producers came up with a new wine, called Rosso di Montalcino. Rosso di Montalcino is also produced exclusivly with Sangiovese grapes but has to age only one year instead of five. This makes Rosso di Montalcino much more affordable and enabled Brunello producers to make money while waiting for their Brunello to age. Compared to Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino is much fresher.
2010 Tenute Loacker – Rosso di Montalcino DOC
Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of Rosso di Montalcino. Tenute Loacker not only produces Brunello di Montalcino (the 2006 vintage was rated with 96 points by James Suckling; follow this link for my tasting notes) but also makes a variety of other wines including Rosso di Montalcino. (I will now use ‘Rosso di Montalcino’ to refer to this particular Rosso di Montalcino from Tenute Loacker)
‘Rosso di Montalcino’ is made with 100% Sangiovese and aged for 14 months in large oak barrels as well as in small barriques. The label listed alcohol by volume was 14%.
In the glass, ‘Rosso di Montalcino’ had an intense ruby red color. On the nose, its bouquet was extremely intense with aromas of blackberries coffee and cocoa. In the mouth, quite tannic, warm and dry. Notes of dark fruit and chocolate. Well-balanced acidity. ‘Rosso di Montalcino was smooth and had a medium body.
A bottle of Tenute Loacker ‘Rosso di Montalcino’ retails in Munich for 15€. According to Wine Searcher, the wine is also available in a variety of other countries including the States. As always if you tried the wine let me know how you like it.