Tuscany is so often associated with Chianti that the magnificent wines of Montalcino can tend to be overlooked but yet some of the very best expression of the Sangiovese grape comes from the vineyards in this hidden corner of the region. The Brunello di Montalcino region lies 30 miles south of Siena with the pretty hilltop town of Montalcino at its centre. The Orcia, Asso and Ombrone valleys form natural boundaries for its 2,000 hectares of vineyards. Brunello is the local name for the Sangiovese Grosso clone from which Brunello di Montalcino should be made in purezza (100%).While Brunello di Montalcino's climate is mildly Mediterranean thanks its proximity to the sea only 20 miles away, the elevation of the vineyards means days are hot and nights cool. This benefits the grapes by maintaining acidity levels and extending their ripening time. Brunello di Montalcino cannot be released for sale until five years after the harvest, or 6 years for Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. During this time the wines are aged for at least 2 years in oak followed by at least 4 months in bottle (6 months for Riservas). Maximum yields are 55 hl/ha. Rosso di Montalcino is usually declassified Brunello which is released earlier for drinking in its youth
Castiglion del Bosco Rosso di Montalcino 2011 - £19.50 / 25.95 case x 6 £105.30 / 140.13€
This wine comes from vineyards in the area of the estate named Gauggiole. The Gauggiole vineyards stand at a height of 250 m above sea level and face southeast. They are characterized by a medium soil, mostly clay, with a hot, dry summer microclimate and wetter weather in winter and spring - ideal conditions for a fresh, fruity, aromatic Sangiovese wine. The grapes are hand harvested and transported to the winery in small 20 Kg crates. Careful hand selection of the clusters and grapes is carried out before pressing. The stainless steel vats are filled by gravity alone, without resorting to mechanical pumps. After fermentation, the wine is transferred to French oak barriques (30% new oak barrels, 70% first and second passage barriques) where it ages for 6 months. It spends a further 6 months in bottle before release. The nose is delicate and full of typical Sangiovese aromas. Characteristic flavours of vibrant fruit, especially tart cherries, and floral notes dominate the palate. This is a versatile wine capable of matching a wide variety of foods from pastas to steaks.
Brunello di Montalcino 2008 - £39.99/ 50.83€ case x 6 £215.95 / 274.50€
Castiglion del Bosco extends over 1,800 hectares, 62 of them dedicated to vineyards. It is one of the most prominent producers in Montalcino, both due to the history of the estate and for its size, unchanged in the last 400 years. Since 2003, Castiglion del Bosco has been owned by Massimo Ferragamo, Chairman of Salvatore Ferragamo USA, who fell in love with the estate, its splendidly isolated woods and majestic ridges. The entire vinification process is carried out in the winery's gravity-fed cellar The grapes are quality-selected in the vineyards first, then the clusters travel to sorting tables where only the finest fruit survives. Fermentation starts with natural yeasts only and once completed, the wines are transferred to French oak in a spacious, climate-controlled cellar that is partially underground.
"Mid concentrated, mature-looking ruby with orange rim. Mature and sweet on the nose too, with oak notes. Intense cherry and coconut palate. 15.5 pts." (Walter Speller, Jancis Robinson Purple Pages, 13 Feb 2013).
Dainero, Castiglion del Bosco 2010 – £16.75 / 22.45€ case x 6 £90.45 / 121.23€
Made from mostly Merlot grapes grown in vineyards at 450 meters above sea level close to the Bolgheri area, which enjoys a particularly favourable climate for winemaking due to the influence of the sea and the mountains. The grapes are hand harvested and transported to the winery in small 20kg crates. Careful hand selection is carried out before pressing. The wine vats are filled by gravity alone without resort to mechanical pumps. After fermentation Dainero is transferred to French oak barriques for 6 months. Full maturation requires another 6 months of bottle ageing, after which the wine is released onto the market. The wine is a ruby red colour with violet hues. On the nose, it is rich and spicy and fruity notes and on the palate it is rich and round. It makes a versatile food wine, excellent with pasta dishes with meat sauces and tomatoes, red meat and medium aged cheeses.