Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012


Sold Out

“Luminous garnet red. Perfumed nose of orange peel, cinnamon, sour red cherries, strawberries, talcum powder, and old fine leather, plus sneaky hints of slightly air-dried berries (not surprising, given how hot 2012 was, even taking into consideration that Biondi-Santi is one of the first estates to pick each year). Then juicy and dense with a silky mouthfeel to the flavors of red berries, blood orange and spices. Finishes long and silky now, but this specific Brunello Riserva was especially austere in its youth and so the estate decided to release it one year later than usual for sale. The wine carries an extra label “Dedicato a Franco Biondi Santi” (dedicated to Franco Biondi Santi) who passed away in 2013; CEO Giampiero Bertolino explained to me that everyone at the estate believed this wine was a real snapshot of Franco and the Brunellos he most enjoyed drinking, and so it was decided to dedicate it to him. Actually, there’s an air-dried quality to this wine that is absolutely enchanting, if in my opinion not altogether typical of Franco’s work. No matter, it’s one of the top three Brunello Riservas of the 2012 vintage. Drinking window: 2024-2036. 96 points

There is a great deal of news coming out of Montalcino’s oldest, most storied estate. In fact, ever since the sale of Biondi-Santi to the EPI group in 2016, the estate has been slowly undergoing changes, with an important focus on the study of their individual vineyard plots. World famous terroir expert Pedro Parra has been brought on as a consultant and among other things, he has proceeded to burrow 33 holes on the estate property to help analyze the characteristics of the property’s various soil types. Based on the results and his indications, twelve specific plots will now be followed closely over the course of the next few years with microvinifications carried out from each one. Clearly, the goal is to gain in precision thanks to the information gathered on each plot and potential wine. The estate has also added small oak 10 and 15Hl barrels (from Garbellotto, the historic Italian barrel supplier) and cement tanks to their vinification and aging arsenal. Also, the estate is planning to uproot part of the older vines that are virus-affected and are no longer producing the quality or volume of grapes they would like (however, they have kept all the extremely old vines planted in the 1930s near the estate). Biondi-Santi has also bought 6.6 hectares of Sangiovese vines designated for Brunello production, an amphitheater in the southeastern sector of Montalcino not far removed from the estate (the vines grow at the same height as at Il Greppo and are south east facing). CEO Giampiero Bertolini told me that in order to decide where to buy, they evaluated sites at 23 different estates (twelve of which he went to see personally). And so Biondi-Santi owns 33 hectares of vineyards today (only of which a little less than 2 hectares are of Rosso di Montalcino-only designated vines). In this light, it is not without interest that Biondi-Santi is thinking of making a little more Rosso every year, given that there is apparently a huge request for the wine and they don’t really make that much currently (only 20,000 bottles/year of Rosso versus 60,000 of the classic Brunello and 15,000 of the Brunello Riserva). And in keeping pace with modern times, the estate has also been working on distribution and labeling; for example the word “Riserva” now appears on the front label, beginning with the 2012 Riserva just released this year (the word “Riserva” was previously only found on the neck label). Last but not least, the estate has also begun bottling magnums (believe it or not, Biondi-Santi had never done so before; in the 2012 vintage, 500 were made as an initial celebratory launch, but in the future, more will be produced). Now that may seem like a lot of changes all at once, but Bertolini underscores everything is being done slowly and carefully, or in his words “… evolution without revolution”.”

Ian D’Agata, Vinous (04/20)