The voice of the restaurateurs at the Brunello event

The last day of the event and the 2015 edition of “Benvenuto Brunello” is drawing to a close. And what better occasion could there be to talk to the restaurateurs and find out the role that is going to be occupied on the wine lists of restaurants all over the world by the vintages presented over the past few days in Montalcino? From the complex of Sant’Agostino, MontalcinoNews listens to the restaurateurs’ comments on the vintages that they’ve tasted.
For Francesco Gozzini (Ristorante il Guscio): “Extraordinary vintages, both the 2010 for Brunello and the 2013 for the Rosso. I think this is an excellent opportunity for Montalcino to show off its typical products and focus on its roots rather than get mixed up in the Tuscan wine “innovation” with an international flavour”. For Gianfranco Venuta (Trattoria Consolare): “A historical vintage that has to be known and presented to clients in the best possible way”. “The Rosso is within the reach of everyone here in Tuscany and even a pub has to offer wines of this kind” says Fausto Beligni (Zanzebur’s Pub), while for Massimiliano Catarsi of Ristorante Fratelli Catarsi: “the Rosso is really interesting, the Brunello has excellent potential and the Reserves are already outstanding. It is up to us restaurateurs to make the most of the wines and excellences like Brunello, and it is important to come to the places where they’re produced to tell their story through the terroir”. Andrea Baldeschi (Ristorante MarinaOne) says that “the vintage stands out as one of the best in recent years. An important moment to taste the finest selection of Montalcino wines. The Brunello is still not showing at the levels it should, the Rosso is already offering extremely interesting perfumes in the nose and persistence on the palate”. The staff, sommelier Mirka Guberti and maître Riccardo Nocera, of the Michelin-starred Glass Hostaria, say that: “the 2010 Brunello needs more time but is already expressing all the verve and structure of a great wine and a great vintage, typical of the terroir. For a weighty wine list, in a weighty restaurant, Brunello embodies one of the expressions of Italian excellence. Coming to Montalcino allows you to convey your experiences to customers who order Brunello”.
“Brunello is very important for Japan. Lots of people like this wine and seek it out, making it essential for me to taste as many as possible and take my knowledge back to Japan”, says Mika Kawaguchi of the restaurant “Endorisaburo Shoten”. For Einar Stokke of Enoteca Toscana: “I find that the 2010 is an exceptional vintage, and proof of this lies in the fact that numerous producers have told me that they have already sold everything. It is a product that has to appear on the wine list of every restaurant and wine bar”.
Unanimous judgements and excellent results both for the vintages and the event.

Attractive, eternal, complicated. Women love Brunello

Women love Brunello di Montalcino because it is a wine for special occasions (60%), symbol of timeless beauty, eternal, like an elixir of youth (20%), and complicated, like a man that one cannot help but love (20%). This is a portrayal of the women who prefer Brunello di Montalcino and elect it as symbol of the world of all things “Made in Italy”, ambassador of what it means to be Italian and of the Italian lifestyle, alongside the big luxury and fashion brands that have made Italy famous. The MontalcinoNews is the bearer of this information, having carried out a survey into why “Women prefer Brunello” during Montalcino’s most important international appointment with the wine world, Benvenuto Brunello. According to 60% of those with a passion for great wine, Brunello di Montalcino is the ideal wine to serve on special occasions, anniversaries, dinners with friends, celebrations and birthdays. According to the women interviewed by the MontalcinoNews, Brunello is their favourite celebratory wine because it is just as good for having fun with a “merry band” of friends and relatives (50%), as it is for an intimate dinner for two, to contemplate as the “king” of Sangiovese and of love (50%). But Tuscany’s most blazoned red wine is also seen as an eternal wine, a sort of elixir. This is an evocative image perceived by women and interpreted in their thoughts of Brunello as a wine with a long cellar life (60%), also because it offers the chance, thanks to its long history, to choose and serve their favourite vintage (40%), perhaps that made in the year one of their children was born or of an important anniversary. More complex and intriguing, however, is the reason given by 20% of women, who love Brunello because it is a complicated wine. And here, in the answers given by the fairer sex, reference is made to “attentive tasting”, the “pleasure of complexity” and, also, to the affinity of Brunello with the image they have of something “attractive but impossible”, like a charmer, who has already seen and sampled everything, set on a pedestal, and who, with just a single glance, sends “a real electric shock” through them.

A “unifying” Benvenuto Brunello

All together in the name of Brunello 2010. This is the atmosphere that fills the air at Benvenuto Brunello 2015, among opinion leaders, critics and producers of Montalcino. These are the words of Francesco Ripaccioli, Canalicchio di Sopra, who says: “the faces look satisfied, unanimous in their agreement that this is a great vintage”. According to Francesco Marone Cinzano, Col d’Orcia, the atmosphere “reminds me of the atmosphere before the release of the 2008 vintage”. “A friendly and enjoyable atmosphere among the producers” for Fabio Ratto, Pian delle Vigne, and for Patrizio Cencioni, Capanna, “the positive comments are confirmed by the releases of neck labels, which are at 1.5 million in the first two months of 2015”. For Anna Brookshow, Villa Le Prata, “expectations are all focused on the hope that the hard work will be rewarded by the market” and, meanwhile, the feedback on the new location is excellent; for Alessia Salvioni, Cerbaiola Salvioni, “things can only get better”.

Francesco Versio is the winner of the 3rd edition of the Gambelli Award

His name is Francesco Versio, he will turn thirty in August, and he lives in Neive, in the province of Cuneo, where he has worked since 2011 as an oenologist for a prestigious winery, the Cantina Bruno Giacosa. Curiously enough, he combines the profession of oenologist (which he exercises after having obtained his Bachelor’s degree with thesis on the “Chromatic Profile of the Major White Wines from Langhe and Roero” and his Master’s degree with thesis on the “Development of a Method for Monitoring Mannoprotein Yields in Wines Aged Sur Lies”) with his passion for music: he also has a Diploma in Music Theory and Solfeggio obtained from the Conservatoire Ghedini of Cuneo, and another in Complementary Piano from the Public Conservatoire of Alessandria.
Another name from Piedmont, and the third one out of three subsequent editions, following Fabrizio Torchio from Asti and Gian Luca Colombo from Turin, listed in the roll of honour of the Giulio Gambelli Award, organized by Aset (Associazione Stampa Enogastroagroalimentare Toscana, or Tuscan Food-and-Wine Press Association) and Igp (I Giovani Promettenti, or Promising Youth blog network) to honour the memory of a great “master of wine”. This year the Award is hosted by the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino, a wine and a territory that – like Chianti Classico and Nobile di Montepulciano – retain strong memories of Giulio Gambelli and his achievements.
The jury selected the winner from 16 oenologists, all strictly under 35, as per award regulations, who reached the finals out of 46 competitors recommended by a panel of 35 food-and-wine journalists. A total of forty-six wines were evaluated by a jury composed of ten judges, gathered at the headquarters of the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino. All forty-six were the expression of the typicality of the wine regions that encompass the entire territory of Italy, from Trentino to Sicily, from Piedmont to Basilicata. The judges prepared a results list showing very slight differences in a narrow range, a sure indication of the excellent work performed by the young oenologists.
“This proves – says Stefano Tesi, Chairman of Aset – that young oenologists are working to recover an authentic style. And “gambellinism” is a style, a spirit, so it cannot be precisely defined. Everyone perceives it in a different way, and that’s the beauty of the Award. It helps to understand how “gambellinism” comes across and to discuss the concept. For this reason, the prize is awarded to the work performed by the oenologists, and not to the wines, which are only a tool of judgment”.
“I was pleasantly surprised – comments the winner, Francesco Versio – when I was informed of the award. And I am deeply honoured to be here to collect it and to celebrate the memory of a man who made the history of wine in Tuscany”.

The tile of the 2014 grape harvest designed by Carlo Petrini

Land, wisdom and future: this is, in short, the message launched today in Montalcino by Carlo Petrini, who designed the celebratory tile of the 2014 grape harvest. Petrini, founder of Slow Food and the only Italian to have been included by the British newspaper The Guardian among the 50 people who “could save the planet”, has declared: “The history of Slow Food and of its forerunner, Arcigola, is closely linked to the village of Montalcino. It’s always nice to return, also because, every time, it is amazing to see how the exponential growth of the appellation has not spoilt the farming landscape, which continues to be among the most beautiful and well cared for in our country. The commercial success of this red wine has contributed to achieving a balance and a harmony which are hard to find in other country areas. The use by many winegrowers of sustainable, organic and biodynamic production methods should also be a source of pride for all the people of Montalcino. The remarkable thing – continues Petrini – is that here work continues on the preservation of woods, dirt roads and some pastures and seed crops. The quality of the wines is constantly rising and the rethink that took place in the middle of the first decade of this century has been really beneficial to the appellation. The wines have gained in terms of territoriality and proximity to the grape variety of origin, that Sangiovese Grosso which proves, here in Montalcino, to be one of the most noble grape varieties at world level”.

As regards the idea behind the design of the tile, Petrini explained that “wine, poetry of the land and testimony to an entire culture, brings men together, mitigates disagreements and warms the atmosphere of a convivial get-together, also leaving its mark on the tablecloth as a reminder of the happy time spent around the table. This is the idea behind the design of my tile. A symbol of conviviality, the leading value of farming tradition and lynchpin of the transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next”.

Three stars to the 2014 grape harvest

The cold, rainy summer made it obvious right from the start that the harvest was going to be complicated, but the meticulous and even more specific selection carried out by the producers improved the quality of the grapes and the 2014 harvest earned itself a well-deserved three stars.

“The 2014 harvest took us 30 years back in time, to between the end of the 70s and the beginning of the 80s, when the grapes were brought into the cellar at the end of September and the harvest continued until the last ten days of October – said the Chairman of the Consortium, Fabrizio Bindocci. As far as quality is concerned, there is no doubt that the high level of acidity in the grapes and even, albeit slow, ripening allow us to be fairly optimistic as to how good the bottled wine is going to be”.

The optimism of the Consortium Chairman is also confirmed by the words of Paolo Vagaggini, oenologist of national acclaim and one of the world’s greatest experts on Sangiovese, who took part this morning in the ceremony to assign the stars to the grape harvest, “not everything went well at meteorological level and the success of the 2014 vintage was really down to the producers of Brunello di Montalcino, and their ability to turn the atmospheric adversities to their favour. Most of the winegrowers reacted promptly and professionally, and the results were comforting. The meticulous and careful selection of healthy grapes was essential; vinification then played a very important role, with gentle and delicate extractions. The 2014 wines are elegant, not potent but very balanced, unsuitable for very long ageing but ideal for decidedly pleasing consumption. For the majority of the producers, we can say: it will be another interesting vintage”.