by Fred McMillin
Italy's Greatest Wine??
Hefty, flamboyant, powerful, mouth-filling...
Montalicino Milestones (mohn-tahl-SHEE-noh)
700 B.C.—The Etruscans make wine in the area around Florence.
200 B.C. -The Romans become the winemakers in the region.
814 A.D.—This is the date of the oldest known written reference to "Monte Lucini," which becomes "Montalcino." About this time a monestary is built south of the town, which still stands today. It is near the village of "Sant' Angelo in Colle." Nearby vineyards produced wine for the monks, and today they produce the grapes for our Wine of the Day.
1842—Canon Vincenzo Chiarini gives high praise to a grape of the area with a brownish cast. He calls it Brunello ("little brown one").
1865—Clemente Santi wins a prize at a Montalcino fair with his Brunello.
1888—Clemente's grandson, Ferruccio Biondi Santi, produces the first bottles of Brunello Di Montalcino. It is made from a superior clone of Sangiovese (Chianti's grape), selected and nurtured by Ferruccio.
1960—The wine world still has not caught on. There are but 157 acres of this variety.
1990—The wine world has caught on. There are 2,700 acres of the vine, and plantings continue.
Wine of the Day
By now it should be clear that if you are interested
in wine, you must try at least one bottle of
what I would call the world's youngest noble
The description of Montalcino in Burton Anderson's excellent Wine Atlas of Italy may explain why the wine world was so tardy in recognizing the stature of Brunello: "Tuscany's premier wine town has a defiant air about it, an aloofness born of distance and distrust that has kept it splendidly isolated from the mainstream. It first gained prominence as a fortress where the inhabitants held out against the Florentines until a treaty was signed with the Medici." We wine drinkers surely are glad that defiant aloofness is gone!
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