The SOMM Journal

June / July 2015

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{ Italy } Among the world's greatest wines, Brunello di Montalcino was a late bloomer. Although Montalcino had been a wine growing region for centuries, it wasn't until the late 1800s that Clemente Santi and a few other local vintners hit upon the idea of making wine from a local clone of Sangiovese. Their efforts produced a long-lived wine that they called "Brunello" after the regional term for the famed Tuscan variety. For several decades Brunello remained a rare wine, consumed by only a few con- noisseurs. It wasn't until the 1960s that it became well known. In 1966 it achieved a DOC designation and, a year later, it was the first wine to be awarded the DOCG label, Italy's highest designation. From the original small band of vintners the Brunello com- munity has swelled to nearly 300 producers. Montalcino is a picturesque medieval hill town surrounded by slopes that are ideally suited for vineyard cultivation. The grow- ing region consists of a squared area of close to 60,000 acres of which only 15% is actual vineyard. DOC rules mandate that Brunello cannot be released until January 1 of the fifth year after the harvest. During this slow aging period the wine spends time in oak and then in bottle. As a much needed boost to cash flow, vintners are permitted to release a younger wine a year after the harvest. Called Rosso di Montalcino, this fresh and lively wine was awarded a DOC in 1984. It is a charming junior Brunello and usually sells for under $25. The first decade of the new century has produced some of the greatest Brunellos ever made. If you are shopping for the NEARING by Anthony Dias Blue BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO TAKES ITS PLACE ON TOP Perfection

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