Brunello di Montalcino is a red wine produced in the Tuscany region of Italy in the vineyards surrounding the small medieval town of Montalcino about 100 miles south of Florence (Firenze). Originally the Brunello grape was considered to be native to the area and the only place it was grown. But through some extensive research and testing which finally ended back in 1879, yes, that’s right, the grape was found to be of the same variety as Sangiovese and this was made the official designation. The name Brunello di Montalcino then evolved within the town of Montalcino to mean any wine made with 100% Sangiovese grapes. In 1980, Brunello di Montalcino was among the four wines awarded the first Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) designation. Today it is one of Italy’s best-known and most expensive wines.
So, as I said, this wine is a product of Tuscany, the area of Italy most known for fine wines of distinction. Produced and bottled by Azienda Agraria Mocali, this is a less expensive vintage than what the family normally produces. However, again, since it is made with only 100% Sangiovese, this is an exceptionally fine, yet value priced product. The Mocali Farm along with the winery was purchased in the 1950’s by Mr. Dino Ciacci who was one of the founders of the consortium, a free association of winemakers intent on safeguarding their wines and accentuating their qualities.
This was one of those bottles that caught my eye because of its attractive simplicity. However, one can easily see the words “Rosso di Toscana” along with the DOCG designation so I decided to give it a try as I do prefer wines from this region. Have to say here, great choice. This is a truly rich, ruby red wine in the glass. Its boldness comes from slight hints of dark chocolate and vanilla, kind of an odd combination because you may expect one to cancel out the other and possibly tilt a little toward the sweet side. In fact, this is a very dry, robust tasting wine with a strong, delectable aftertaste which lingers just long enough. This is attained through eight months of aging in oak barrels and another eight months in the bottle. Not for the faint of heart, nor is it for lovers of a lighter wine, this delivers quality and flavor with a punch. From the look in the glass to the first sip to the bottom of the bottle, this wine delivers! I would say that it does benefit from maybe 45-60 minutes in a decanter which will also allow the aroma to escape and have your guests waiting with some anticipation.
As an interesting aside, the name, PIAGGIONI, is derived from the hillsides, the escarpments, which are steep slopes usually found at the edge of a mountain ridge. Utilizing mountain slopes to control ripening requires some grapes to grow facing north where coolness makes them ripen slowly while those facing south will mature more quickly. Blending them together produces a more complex, aromatic wine and is a process used by the top producers in the area.
Awards for this wine are many gotten from Wine Spectator (2012,13,15), Wine Enthusiast (2008,10) and Vini Buoni d’Italia (2016) and more. Because of the richness and body, this wine would be best served in colder months or with foods which can match its texture. Beef ribs, maybe a rare porterhouse or an aged filet would be perfect, as would a traditional Sunday gravy with braciole and all the usual accompaniments. Bison or wild boar would also pair well, if you are the adventurous type. But when there is a fire in the hearth and snow on the roof, this wine would be a most welcome friend for an afternoon or evening with dried sausage and some locatelli cheese. At about $15 it is a value wine with history, flavor and good company adding to an experience.