February 24, 2023
One of the brightest gems in Tuscany’s crown is Brunello di Montalcino. Brilliant garnet-hued wine, redolent of sun-drenched, rolling hills and replete with both innovation and deep-rooted tradition is the hallmark of one of the most highly regarded appellations in all of Italy. Relatively tiny – roughly 2,000 hectares of vines altogether – Brunello’s prestige outshines its modest size.
Strict rules govern production of the wine that comes from the land around the ancient hilltop town of Montalcino, though the styles of wine can and do vary. Leone Alato represents three producers of Brunello di Montalcino, each of whom interprets the wine in a way that reflects their connections to the land.
When Cosimo Loia and Antonietta Palazzo were traveling through Tuscany, looking for a place to put down roots in their native Italy after busy careers as restaurateurs in Scotland, their destiny became clear when they discovered an estate that shared Antonietta’s surname. Palazzo has now seen three generations of the family at work in the vineyards and winery, tending vines organically and producing wines that speak of place, permitting the Sangiovese Grosso grape to express itself in wines that fetch stellar scores from critics and display a balance of both traditional and modern approaches to winemaking.
If Palazzo speaks of family, Pinino exemplifies the power of friendship. On an estate built in 1874, Pinino was one of the first wineries on the Brunello Winemakers Register. The estate, nestled on the Montosoli hillside just north of Montalcino, was purchased in a joint venture among four friends, Andrea and Hannes Gamon and Silvia and Max Hernandez in 2003. Pinino produces several Brunellos from its south-facing vineyards that tend to soak up a little extra sun, even in rainy vintages. Pinino’s wines are quite traditional in style, aged in old Slavonian oak and showing the elegance of classic Brunello built to be cellared and enjoyed over the course of many years.
With a reverence for the past and an eye on the future, Benedetta Borgogni produces sleek, polished wines from two small vineyards that offer up fruit for wines as expressive as they are stylish. Madonna Nera’s reviews tout wines that serve up plenty of fruit, balanced by ripe tannins and savory spices. Benedetta’s use of French oak tonneaux for aging her Brunello results in a more modern style that reflects her hands-on approach in both vineyard and cellar.
Brunello di Montalcino celebrates Sangiovese Grosso, the thick-skinned clone of the iconic Tuscan grape that achieves profound complexity and grace when lovingly tended, carefully vinified, patiently aged in oak, then rested in bottles before release. The process takes a long time; the requirements of the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG ensure that Brunello is released no sooner than five years after harvest, with an additional year’s aging for Brunello Riserva. Great patience is rewarded when you taste the wine from our partners at Palazzo, Pinino, and Madonna Nera, all of whom make wines that proudly convey the spirit of the land, their families, and of the centuries-old history of a picturesque hilltop town in Tuscany.