Montalcino is not only a wine, but also a terroir. Situated in Tuscany, it lies at about forty kilometres south of Siena in a hilly area whose uncontaminated landscape is listed as a Unesco heritage site. Brunello di Montalcino DOCG ( (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, the highest level of Italian wine appellations) is produced here, from nothing but 100% Sangiovese Grosso grapes. Each bottle is a minor miracle that may be successfully stored up to 30 years and more.
The History of Brunello di Montalcino
In the late 1800s, Ferruccio Biondi Santi, backed up by his maternal grandfather’s wine-growing experience, planted the first vineyard. Ever since then, Brunello has continued to seduce us and with its wealth of aromas, elegance and remarkable balance, becoming one of the most celebrated wines, one of the legends of the national wine-growing tradition and a symbol of the Made in Italy label worldwide.
The longer it ages, the more complexity it acquires, enhanced by fragrances reminiscent of oak wood, spices, leather and tobacco leaves. They can recall sage, eucalyptus, black pepper, vanilla, liquorice, coffee and dark chocolate. Without forgetting the appeal of floral scents such as violet, geranium, rose and fruity notes such as ripe cherry and forest fruits. With a bit of practice, you will also be able to discern some more unusual nuances, such as ink and paint, flint stone and sealing wax.
Brunello di Montalcino should be served at a room temperature of approximately 18°, in glasses with a full round bowl. Purists believe that its qualities also make it equally enjoyable as a meditation wine or for sipping while conversing with friends.
One of the fixed rules of any successful pairing is “to pair great with great and simple with simple”, in order to create pairings that are harmonious in their structure and length. It is therefore natural, in the case of Brunello di Montalcino, to pair it with complex dishes or with a simple ingredient that its truly “great”. This wine is perfect for accompanying foods with a strong taste of umami. The more concentrated and complex wines, obtained from riper grapes, also have more umami than others. Here are some examples of some extremely successful harmonious pairings.
Furred or feathered game served with rich sauces and condiments. For example, wild boar or venison with blueberry preserve; turkey stuffed with prunes and summer or white truffle; Guinea fowl flavoured with sage, or hare with juniper, which recall this wine’s balsamic notes.
A princely chianina rib steak, rich in umami.
The spices and herbs recalling the fragrances of the wine, for adding to sauces and gravies.
Pastries and desserts: blueberry biscuits and chocolates with fruity liqueur fillings.
Cheese: provolone del Monaco, mature Parmigiano Reggiano, pecorino or Ragusano PDO.
Rich creamy risottos with liver, lamb or sausage ragout. Because the tannins and alcohol contrast their succulence, greasiness and savoury flavours.
Stewed and braised meat dishes. The complexity of these recipes harmonizes with the complex taste and aroma of Brunello, while mitigating any tannins and supporting its layered structure.
The salty flavour of smoked salmon contrasts the tannic content of Brunello.
Don't pair Brunello di Montalcino with grilled meat. Not recommended because the meat tends to taste slighting bitter and carbonized at times and is therefore not well suited to the velvety feel of a Brunello. In this case, a Rosso di Montalcino is to be preferred.
With pizza, unless the topping includes a particularly intense and lingering ingredient. The acidity of tomato and the mozzarella which “disappears” before the powerful impact of this varietal makes it an unsuccessful pairing.
Avoid pairings with any type of fish which has white or delicate flesh, unless they are heavily seasoned.
With hot piquant foods. The capsaicin contained in chilli peppers may stand up to this varietal, but combined with the alcohol content of the wine, would cause excessive perspiration.