Tenuta Greppo (Biondi-Santi), Brunello di Montalcino

Tenuta Greppo (Biondi-Santi), Brunello di Montalcino, 2009

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  • icon-grapevariety Grape variety
    Sangiovese 100%
  • Rating

    RP 93

Intense ruby red colour, and a complex bouquet with note of withered rose. This outstanding wine is harmonic, well structured, and the tannins and acidity are in perfect equilibrium. 40 years aging potential

Production area: Montalcino Vineyards

Soil composition: various origins, rich in stones. The best are the ones rich in marl Vineyards´

Exposure: south, south-east, east, north-east, north

Altitude: from 300 to 500 metres

Harvesting: late September

Vinification: temperature controlled fermentation, then 3 years in Slavonian oak casks Refining in bottle for at least four months

About Tenuta Greppo (Biondi-Santi)

Biondi Santi is a Tuscan producer synonymous with the wines of Brunello di Montalcino and, indeed, has claims to being the inventor of the style. The wines are fragrant and floral with savoury hints, with bright berry and cherry fruit and peppery spice over a backbone of fine tannins and acidity. Riservas are only released in the best years, can last for many decades and often need 15 or more years to be tasted at their best.

The Biondi Santi vineyard has 25 hectares (62 acres) of Sangiovese, of which 5ha (12 acres) were planted between 1930-1972. These form the basis of the Riserva wines, while the standard wine is made from vines in the 10-25 year bracket. Fruit from vines under 10 years old supplies the dry, brightly aromatic Rosso di Montalcino. In poorer years when no Brunello is released, Biondi Santi makes a second Rosso di Montalcino called Fascia Rossa with fruit from the older vines.

The grapes are picked relatively early for the region, and then undergo a long maceration. Most of the grapes are fermented in resin-lined cement using native yeasts, except for those destined for the Riserva, which are vinified in wooden vats. The wines are then aged for 36 months in large, neutral Slavonian oak casks, while the Rosso wines see 12 months. Biondi Santi does not use new oak, as it is thought to add aggressive tannins to the naturally tannin-rich Sangiovese.

The history of the estate and the entire region are closely related. Indeed, the first recorded mention of a Brunello was at Montepulciano's agricultural fair in 1869, referencing Clemente Santi's "vino rosso scelto (Brunello) del 1865" (although the family's Greppo vineyards were well established by then). In 1932, the Italian Ministry of Agriculture referred to Brunello as "a recent creation of Dr Ferrucio Biondi Santi from Montalcino".

Ferrucio Biondi Santi, during the problems with oidium and phylloxera in late 19th Century, developed massal selections of his most resistant vines, later grafting them onto American rootstocks, and continued to make an oak-aged red from 100 percent Sangiovese while other producers disappeared or moved to different wine styles. By the end of World War II, Biondi Santi's Tenuta Greppo was one of the few estates left in Montalcino, growing a specific variant of Sangiovese not seen in the rest of Tuscany. Much of the expansion of the appellation from 1970 is based on cuttings from their vines, and Biondi Santi clones are commercially available today.

Jacopo Biondi Santi, who now runs the estate with his sister Alessandra, also owns Castello di Montepo, an estate in Scansano in the Maremma Toscana.

Grape variety

Sangiovese is a red Italian wine grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, "the blood of Jupiter". Though it is the grape of most of central Italy from Romagna down to Tuscany, Campania and Sicily, outside Italy it is most famous as the only component of Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino and the main component of the blends Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, although it can also be used to make varietal wines such as Sangiovese di Romagna and the modern "Super Tuscan" wines like Tignanello.

Sangiovese was already well known by the 16th century. Recent DNA profiling by José Vouillamoz of the Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige suggests that Sangiovese's ancestors are Ciliegiolo and Calabrese Montenuovo. The former is well known as an ancient variety in Tuscany, the latter is an almost-extinct relic from the Calabria, the toe of Italy. At least fourteen Sangiovese clones exist, of which Brunello is one of the best regarded. An attempt to classify the clones into Sangiovese grosso (including Brunello) and Sangiovese piccolo families has gained little evidential support.

Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavours when aged in barrels. While not as aromatic as other red wine varieties such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, Sangiovese often has a flavour profile of sour red cherries with earthy aromas and tea leaf notes. Wines made from Sangiovese usually have medium-plus tannins and high acidity.

The high acidity and light body characteristics of the Sangiovese grape can present a problem for winemaking. The grape also lacks some of the colour-creating phenolic compounds known as acylated anthocyanins. Modern winemakers have devised many techniques trying to find ways to add body and texture to Sangiovese - ranging from using grapes that come from extremely low yielding vines, to adjusting the temperature and length of fermentation and employing extensive oak treatment. One historical technique is the blending of other grape varieties with Sangiovese, in order to complement its attractive qualities and fill in the gaps of some of its weaker points. The Sangiovese-based wines of Chianti have a long tradition of liberally employed blending partners—such as Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo, Mammolo, Colorino and even the white wine grapes like Trebbiano and Malvasia. Since the late 20th century, Bordeaux grapes, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon, have been a favoured blending partner though in many Italian DOC/DOCG regions there is often a maximum limit on the amount of other varietals that can be blended with Sangiovese; in Chianti the limit for Cabernet is 15%.

Other techniques used to improve the quality of Sangiovese include extending the maceration period from 7–12 days to 3–4 weeks to give the must more time to leach vital phenols out of the grape skins. Transferring the wine during fermentation into new oak barrels for malolactic fermentation gives greater polymerisation of the tannins and contributes to a softer, rounder mouthfeel. Additionally, Sangiovese has shown itself to be a "sponge" for soaking up sweet vanilla and other oak compounds from the barrel. For aging the wine, some modern producers will utilize new French oak barrels but there is a tradition of using large, used oak botti barrels that hold five to six hectolitres of wine. Some traditional producers still use the old chestnut barrels in their cellars.

Alternative Names: Nielluccio, Sangioveto, Sangiovese Grosso, Sangiovese Piccolo, Brunello, Prugnolo Gentile, Morellino

About Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy's most famous and prestigious wines. In Tuscany, its homeland, it perhaps ranks alongside Chianti Classico. On global markets it seems to command even greater attention.

The wine is typically garnet in colour with aromas of red and black fruit with underlying vanilla and spice, and perhaps a hint of earthiness. The wines are usually full bodied with alcohol levels around 14 or 15 percent abv. Good tannic structure and bright acidity provides balance.

All Brunello di Montalcino wine is made exclusively from Sangiovese Grosso grapes grown on the slopes around Montalcino – a classic Tuscan hilltop village 30 kilometres (20 miles) south of Siena. Sangiovese Grosso is the large-berried form of Sangiovese. Its name here translates roughly as 'little dark one'. The use of this synonym and its inclusion in the name of the wine was part of a clear strategy to differentiate the wine from Chianti.

The first recordings of red wines from Montalcino date back to the early 14th Century. However the all-Sangiovese Brunello di Montalcino style we know today did not emerge until the 1870s, just after the creation of a single Italian state. Its evolution was due in no small part to the efforts of Ferruccio Biondi-Santi, whose name lives on in one of Montalcino's finest estates.

Traditional Brunello di Montalcino winemaking methods involve long aging in large vats, typically made from Slavonian oak. This results in particularly complex wines, although some consider this style too tannic and dry. Modernists began to pursue a 'fruitier' style in the 1980s, when they began to shorten the barrel maturation time and use smaller 225 litre French oak barriques.

DOCG regulations require Brunello vineyards to be planted on hills with good sun exposure, at altitudes not surpassing 600 meters (1968ft). This limit is intended to ensure the grapes reach optimal ripeness and flavour before being harvested. Any higher than 600m and the mesoclimate becomes cooler to the point of unreliability.

According to the disciplinare di produzione (the legal document laying out the wine's production laws) for Brunello di Montalcino, Brunello must be made from 100 percent Sangiovese and aged for at least four years (five for riserva wines). Two of these years must be spent in oak, and the wine must be bottled at least four months prior to commercial release.

The "junior" version of Brunello is the Rosso di Montalcino appellation. Fruit from young vines in Brunello vineyards might be used, or perhaps vineyard plots which catch less sun. These wines are designed to be more approachable when young and aging requirements are greatly lowered.

Some producers in Montalcino make small amounts red and white wine under the IGT Toscana designation. The reds usually feature Bordeaux grape varieties from a few well established plots.

Regular price $1,977.00

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