San Quirico Montalcino San Antimo
MYTHCAL BRUNELLO This most prestigious 100% Sangiovese grosso wine, originates from 5 years of constant attention to soils, vines, cellars. All such perfectionism results in high concentration, balanced wines, with elegant tannins, and an astounding longevity. Once that you are tasted Chianti and Vino Nobile, a Montalcino tour, in the heart of Valdorcia, really closes the circle of the three traditional Sangioveses. This is a pilgrimage for every wine fan! like for this young wine enthusiasts. For whom I picked 4 wineries in the legendary Montosoli terroir: La Rasina, Franco Pacenti, Capanna di Cencioni and Canalicchio di Sopra. They are small estates, managed by the local families that created the Brunello appellation. Besides tasting, we visited the romantic St. Antimo abbey, we had lunch in a panoramic restaurant, downtown Montalcino, and visited the medieval Fortezza, and the enoteca, within.
Montalcino, from its steep hill, overlooking the Valdorcia, the Chianti, and the old Roman road, shows a bold, aloof air stemming from its isolation and its prestige. The Brunello, likewise, stands apart as an élitistic, expensive wine, for many just an object of desire. The daytrip focused on Montosoli and Canalicchio terroirs, that make elegant, long ageing wines, the heart of Montalcino.
The first winery is an organic estate with 11 hectares close to the family farmhouse, where Marco Mantengoli, owner and winemaker, makes Rosso and Brunello. His wife takes care of our tasting: from the younger Sangiovese, to the single vineyards Divasco riserva, while talking of their wine making style, centered on keeping the terroir’s characteristics.
Next tasting is at Franco Pacenti’s estate, in the highly reputed Canalicchio zone. Also a family winery, with 10 hectares of vineyards, that give about 17.000 Brunello bottles, besides the other wines. A lively, and very informative granchild of Rosildo, the founder, takes care of us in a beautiful terrace, entertaining us about how proudly they make the Brunello “the way we like it”, opposite to modern ones, somehow suspected to flatter the foreign buyers desires. We talk abou the story of these wines, how to appreciate them, and what to drink with.
We walk in the center, we visit the medieval Fortezza, that now accommodates the more complete Brunello collection that one can dream of. We stop for lunch, eventually, at trattorìa Osticcio with an open view on the vineyards, and on the rolling Crete valley. A cultural interval takes us to Sant Antimo: a stunning Cistercian abbey, placed in the more romantic location, its Romanesque sculptures, and a vaguely French style, remind that it origins may dates back to Charlemagne.
Capanna di Cencioni
Our next winery is Capanna, with 20 hectares in the prestigious Montosoli terroir. Giuseppe Cencioni was among the first to believe in quality wines here, and to join and create the Brunello Consortium in 1966. Actually, jointly with other families that we visit today, they form the avant-garde of the evolution and success of such mythical wine. After tasting elegant wines, with a fine sugar-acity balance, we taste the rare Moscadello a golden, gentle late harvest. This delicate, aromatic dessert wine has almost disappeared from the Montalcino vineyards, yet it is represents an historical, and not only a sensorial curiosity. The sweet wine Moscadelletto was, in fact, the first wine gave to Montalcino a reputation, since the Renaissace time.
Canalicchio di Sopra
Last, and more challenging tasting at Canalicchio di Sopra. Here since the 50’s, the Pacenti family, and then the Ripaccioli, worked on the Sangiovese, before than the Brunello DOC was established. The Ripaccioli brothers work on 19 hectares - with vineyards both in Canalicchio and Montosoli - on a parcel by parcel basis, as on separate vinifications. Canalicchio, eventually, results one of the best rated, prize winner wineries. These are signature wines of the elegant soul of the Brunello: high acidity, lower alchool, silky tannins, create wines of high complexity, and elegance. Elisa, our host, introduced us to the young Rosso, to the intense Brunello, and concluded with Vigna Mercatale, the amazing Riserva.
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