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The Story

Biondi-Santi also thinks that his Riserva is one of the world’s longest-lasting wines:
“Even though Italian wine legislation requires that Brunello be matured in barrels for two years and in bottles for four to six months, we allow our wine to age for five to six years before bottling. We traditionally use Slovenian barrels, which further enhance the longevity of the wine. Then we cellar the Brunello in bottles for at least another two years before bringing them to market. Indeed, I doubt very much that, even after all this, the Riserva would be at all drinkable for at least another ten years, because it thrives on its magnificent reputation for longevity. A majority of our wines are sold in Italy, as they become extremely expensive once exported. In the price competition with top French wines, they invariably come in second place."

Biondi-Santi’s annual production volume is approximately 80,000 bottles, which are produced exclusively from the estate’s vineyards: 60,000 bottles of Brunello Annata and, in exceptionally good years, approximately 6,000 bottles of Riserva. The Brunello Annata is a direct descendant of the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and is also produced during years which enjoy good, but not extraordinary, weather conditions. The Rosso di Montalcino is made using the same grapes as the Bruneelo, but is sold without going through the same ageing process as its big brothers. Despite this, the Rosso is a very highly esteemed wine in Italy, obtaining the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) classification in 1984.

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Written Notes

Tancredi Biondi Santi passed away in 1970, so the 1975 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva would have been one of the first riservas made entirely by his son, Franco Biondi Santi. Showing its age and maturity, the wine presents delicate aromas of balsam herb, coffee, caramel, licorice and candied orange peel. The primary fruit has faded, and the wine has shifted gears, exhibiting smoky and ethereal perfumes instead. In the mouth, this wine shows more volume and fiber than I might have expected, and there is even a subtle touch of roundness and volume on the finish. This is a beautiful snapshot of a bygone era in Tuscan wine.

The big news at the celebrated Il Greppo property, the venerable home of the Biondi-Santi brand, is the arrival of General Manager Giampiero Bertolini (ex-Frescobaldi). He replaces outgoing CEO Olivier Adnot, who was put at the helm of the estate when it was purchased by France's luxury goods firm Européenne de Participations Industrielles (EPI), which also owns the Charles and Piper-Heidsieck Champagne houses as well as Château La Verrerie. I wrote about these changes last year, and you can read my article here: https://winejournal.robertparker.com/montalcino-tenuta-biondi-santi-update. Under Bertolini's management, the plan is to invest 30 percent of all profits back into the winery and vineyards. Winemaking at Il Greppo will not change, but there is a push to further improve quality. For now, work is being done to map out specific vineyard parcels. More flexibility (and space) is being created in order to ferment those parcels separately. Fermentation and aging at Il Greppo otherwise remain virtually unchanged. Giampiero Bertolini has a new team in place and works alongside Tancredi Biondi Santi (Franco's grandson). The current releases from Biondi-Santi are the 2015 Rosso di Montalcino (that I had previously reviewed last year) and the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino. The estate also has two older vintages on release as well. These are the beautiful 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva (to compensate for the fact that a Riserva was not produced in the 2011 vintage) and the extraordinary 1995 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. I had the enormous pleasure to review those older vintages here with a few other cellar treasures for context.

  • 94p
B level fill, bright garnet, brick rim. Violets, fresh anise, leather, cherries, strawberries. Perfect balance, lively acidity, ripe and high tannins, extremely complex, chocolate, truffles, so intense, gorgeous, perfection, and this very curious touch like a Riesling BA's tropical touch, and minutes of aftertaste, closer to ten minutes actually. The nuances in this wine is beyond description, their so subtle, so discreet and comes in many waves of new flavours.
  • 99p
Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1975 is a beauty. 37 years old, but still showing a lively garnet colour, fresh red fruit combined with vegetal aromas on the nose and a vibrant aicidity providing backbone to a powerful but fine palate. Perfectly drinkable, but still able to keep for a number of years.
  • 91p
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Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany


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