When I was asked if I wanted to come along on a getaway to Montalcino to visit a couple of wineries and taste lots of Brunello di Montalcino wines, I, of course, said yes.
Who wouldn’t say yes straight away, right?
Early on a Tuesday morning, I was picked up almost at my front door by my road trip friends Franco Ziliani, a very well-known Italian wine journalist and a trusted source when it comes to wine knowledge and Giorgio Rinaldi, a big name in Ais (an Italian sommelier association) and manager of a winery in Piemonte. It was really kind of them in an era when gallantry often seems to be a thing of the past. Anyway, soon we were on our way towards Montalcino chatting away and planning our 2 days on the ‘wine road’ so to say.
I, a foreigner, woman, and a member of the Fisar sommelier association, was on the road with two male Ais (a sommelier association considering themselves the only real deal LOL) members. Giorgio is even a member of the Ais national steering committee.
Oh la la…how was this going to go…? LOL
Would they ignore me a) if I mentioned I am a member of Fisar, b) because I am a woman, and c) because I am not Italian? Of course, not…there was no risk of that with Franco and Giorgio because they are both delightful persons. We really had a lot of fun together in Montalcino.
I was also really excited about this tour to Montalcino as it was my first real wine trip after the lockdown period. It was Franco and Giorgio who had decided our itinerary and I was all right with all of it as I was happy to just be able to walk the vineyards and sip on wine with the producers again. Also, I knew we would go to great places and drink top wines. There was no doubt about that!
On the first day, we started out at Fattoria del Pino to then go on and meet up with Giuseppe Gorelli in his newly started small winery. I will only talk about our first day in Montalcino in this article to not make it all too long.
Read on to learn more…
A Woman in Wine in Montalcino…
The first stop at our visit to Montalcino was to the Fattoria del Pino winery that is owned by Jessica Pellegrini who is a force of nature. We had a bit of a funny experience going there which included following a car with a woman that turned out to be a man…But that is a story for another time.
Returning to Jessica, her passion for her vineyards and winemaking shines through in everything she does. Her wines are also a true expression of her character and passion as well as of the local terroir. When you drink her Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello wines you really do get an image of her personality and the local territory in your head.
I had heard of Jessica Pellegrini and her wines before but I had never visited her in Montalcino, so it was indeed a lovely experience. When we stepped out of the car it was really warm, but we are persistent wine writers LOL so we followed Jessica out for a walk around the vineyards. I even managed to do a short live stream before I almost melted in the afternoon heat.
Jessica does most of the work herself in the vineyard and in the wine cellar together with her 18-year old son. She is very down to earth and not afraid of hard work. She believes that the vineyard should be a place as natural as possible where the grapes can grow in an optimal way.
Jessica told us that she comes from a family of woodsmen and that they also have horses. It was actually her father who decided to buy a piece of land some years ago for their horses and then Jessica and her brother decided to plant vines and try their hand at winemaking. In 2000, they planted a part of the vineyard and in 2007 another part.
Jessica makes wines that put a smile on your lips. Her wines are clean, direct, expressive, and filled with passion and character just like herself. Furthermore, they are, in general, fresh, salty, spicy, fruit-forward, often with green and herby notes, elegant, and much more.
We all liked her wines straight away and especially the 2016 Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino were fantastic. The Brunello di Montalcino 2016, I really enjoyed for its freshness, fruit-forwardness, saltiness, black pepper, minty feeling, licorice, body, and linearity. Regarding the sapidity, you almost felt a touch of the seaside in the wine.
The Rosso di Montalcino 2016 was also really interesting and complex with good acidity, notes of raspberries and currant, and herby. There wasn’t really any of the vintages we tasted that I did not like. The Brunello 2015 was warmer, more full-bodied, with mature notes of red fruit, and very smooth tannins.
I really found the Brunello 2014 very enjoyable too even though a bit less powerful than the 2015 and 2016. Well, 2014 was a bit of a difficult year with lots of rain and, indeed, you feel an almost ‘wet’ touch to the wine with very green and herby notes, shrub herbs, moss, followed by pepper, cherry, plum.
We all agreed that the wines were a nice discovery for us. Franco Ziliani was very enthusiastic and has written about our visit to Fattoria del Pino in his article Non è la Langa ma Montalcino mi seduce ancora.
Read more about Brunello di Montalcino wines in my previous articles A Vertical Brunello Tasting Like No Other at Lisini Winery and Cruising Through Montalcino in the Search of Brunello Wines.
A restart for a Montalcino winemaker…
The second visit of the day was to a winemaker that has just started a new small winery but he is in no way new on the wine scene in Montalcino. I am talking about Giuseppe Gorelli. As Giuseppe explained to me, this is his third winery in Montalcino, so to say.
What does he mean by this? Well, let me explain it better.
Giuseppe Gorelli started out years ago working and making wine at his father’s farm in Montalcino. In fact, Giuseppe told me that he bottled his first Brunello wine already in 1987. Together with his family, Giuseppe then turned his father’s vineyards into the well-known winery Le Potazzine. Today, he has started anew (in 2018) by piecing together 4 hectares (10 acres) that are already in production and 2 more hectares to come.
Even though I, of course, know Le Potazzine and had heard the name Gorelli before, I admit I did not know much about Giuseppe Gorelli. Thanks to my ‘mentors’ Franco and Giorgio, I got a full immersion into the history and winemaking of Giuseppe Gorelli. Franco and Giorgio go way back with Giuseppe and I believe that Giorgio and Giuseppe are also collaborating on some wine-related projects.
What a discovery for me!
Giuseppe was pouring a sample of what will become Rosso di Montalcino 2019 into our glasses directly from the wooden tank, and as soon as it touched our lips it was a revelation.
We all – me, Franco, and Giorgio – kept repeating: che buono!!
Especially Franco, who walked around saying ‘che buono’ and ‘che muscolatura’. LOL
Now you might ask, why do you think it is ‘buono’?Let me explain it better to you…
The wines from Rosso di Montalcino 2019 to what will become Brunello di Montalcino 2019, the Brunello Riserva 2019, and the Sant’Antimo Sangiovese 2019 wine all have structure, body, and layers of complexity that are amazing. This considering that they still have a long way to go before being ready.
They all undergo fermentation with indigenous yeast in steel vats or wooden tanks in the form of truncated cones to then continue the maturation in medium to large oak casks.
When tasting these wines, it felt like you were deciphering a world of underlayers of Sangiovese in one single sip. The wines have character, are fruit-forward, and the tannins are there and a bit nervous but they are already smooth and non-intrusive.
I mentioned the Sant’Antimo Sangiovese 2019 above which will be an IGT Toscana wine when it is ready. Giuseppe says he wants it to be different in character from the Brunello Riserva even if the grapes are more or less the same. Therefore, he decided to let 30% of the grapes undergo fermentation with the stalks just as the farmers used to do in the past. This gives a boost of freshness and adds a bit of spice to the aromas. Indeed, you could feel that something ‘extra’ tickling on your tongue. It is a wine with a lovely richness already.
The wine that will become Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2019 will for sure become a killer wine, or to say it in a smoother way, it will certainly seduce even the most demanding palate.
Franco indeed exclaimed: Madonna che vino!
Then it was dinner time…
Giuseppe and his wife Malgorzata (they are newly married) took us to dinner at Re di Macchia in the center of Montalcino. We sipped on his Rosso di Montalcino 2018 that is his first bottled wine under his new winery name.
It was really a fantastic evening where we all got to know each other better while drinking only high-class wines. Other than Giuseppe’s Rosso di Montalcino 2018, we also had the Morellino di Scansano Calestaia from Roccapesta winery and an ‘outstanding joker’ thrown in by Franco to tease a bit, in the form of the Barbaresco 2014 Pajé by Luca Roagna paired with the pinci with wild boar ragú.
Well-fed and high on first-class wine, we happily went to bed with our hearts filled with precious memories of wine and of Montalcino.
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