Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2016 | Tuscany, Italy

By Dirk Smits

Wine of the WeekMarch 8, 2021

The name Brunello, meaning “the brown one,” came from the description of the Sangiovese Grosso grapes at harvest time — a dark colored, dusky brown berry. Brunello was the local name given to this type of Sangiovese Grosso, originally identified in 1842 by Clemente Santi. Today, the term is officially reserved for the name of the wine. Sangiovese grown in Montalcino has comparatively thicker skins, compared with grapes grown in other regions, and excellent anthocyanins. Both of these factors contribute to Brunello’s deep tannic structure and rich hue.

It was in 1869 at the Agrarian Exhibition of Montepulciano that his wine, “a select red wine (Brunello) of 1865,” was mentioned and received an award. For many, this is the date which marks the birth of the Brunello wines, standing out from other Sangiovese based wines due to its inclination towards longevity.

You really can’t get more basic than that. No other grapes are allowed in a Brunello wine, thus making it singular and different from the Chianti wines which require only 80% Sangiovese and permit a blend of other types of grapes.

In 1998, the requirements were set and these dictated that a Brunello wine be aged for two years and at least four months in the bottle before release on the market.

Col d’Orcia is situated on the outskirts of the medieval hilltop village of Montalcino, in Tuscany’s Siena province. The estate has a rich winemaking history dating back to the 14th century. Winemaking was already an established agricultural pursuit in Tuscany when centuries earlier, the region was occupied by the Etruscan civilization, who planted grape vines. Col d’Orcia is the third largest owner of Brunello vineyards in Montalcino and the largest organic vineyard in Tuscany. The estate is currently owned and managed by Count Francesco Marone Cinzano. Under his leadership, plantings have expanded exponentially at Col d’Orcia and the estate has been transformed into an organic farm with biodynamic practices.

Col d'Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2016

Origin: Montalcino, Italy
Varietals: 100% Sangiovese
Sustainability: Certified organic with biodynamic practices
Suggested retail price: $45
ABV: 14.5%

The grapes are manually harvested followed by a temperature controlled 18-20 day fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then aged three years in 25, 50 and 75 hl Slavonian and French oak casks, followed by further refinement of at least one year in bottle prior to release.

The wine opens up with complex aromas of red fruit and plum jam with hints of spices, toast and vanilla. The mouth shows a silky structure with fine balance revealing flavors of ripe fruit, spices and ripe tanins enveloped in juicy acidity.

Suggested food pairings: tomato based pastas, lamb chops, beef stew, Bistecca Fiorentina, duck, grilled vegetables, mature cheeses such as Pecorino, Parmigiano, Asiago, Provolone.

> For more information, visit the Col d’Orcia official website.