Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy's most revered wines but dynamic winemaker Lorenzo Magnelli of Le Chiuse reminded me not to be intimidated - like all wines, Brunello is meant to be enjoyed. Lorenzo is the ideal person to unravel the mystique of this red wine from southern Tuscany - he is the great-great grandson of Ferruccio Biondi-Santi who is credited with creating Brunello di Montalcino in 1888. The present day Le Chiuse vineyards are part of the original Biondi-Santi land holdings. Brunello is clearly in this family's DNA!
Produced exclusively from the Sangiovese Grosso grape, in 1980 Brunello di Montalcino became the first Italian wine to receive DOCG status - the highest classification level for wines in Italy. Brunello di Montalcino is celebrated for its elegance, complexity, and long aging potential.
Only 31 years old, Lorenzo has been the chief winemaker at Le Chiuse since 2006 and even remembers helping out in the vineyards when he was five years old. Lorenzo said that Montalcino is in his heart but he also broadened his experience by working a harvest in Napa Valley. Lorenzo is committed to maintaining the traditions of his family's legacy and that devotion has been acknowledged with positive reviews and prestigious awards - Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino 2010 was recently awarded the prestigious Tre Bicchieri wine award by Italy's influential Gambero Rosso organization.
Watch the video to see Lorenzo describe the aromas and flavors of Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino. In our podcast conversation, Lorenzo shares more of his family history, winemaking philosophy, the incredible aging potential of Brunello, and how his Champagne loving wife inspired him to produce a Sangiovese based sparkling wine! For an introduction to the wines of Le Chiuse, I recommend starting with Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2010 and Le Chiuse Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2013.
Aged 3 years in oak and 2 years in the bottle, Le Chiuse Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2010 ($60) displays the powerful beauty of Brunello - it is delicious now but has the capacity to age elegantly for at least another 15 years. It is a complex and well-structured wine with harmonious dark berry and plum flavors balanced by an elegant earthiness.
Le Chiuse Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2013 ($30) is produced from the same Sangiovese Grosso grapes but it spends just a few months in oak. A fresher expression of the varietal, Rosso di Montalcino is meant to enjoy now. Rosso is an excellent way to experience the essence of Sangiovese Grosso at a fraction of the Brunello price.
If you're planning a trip to southern Tuscany, Le Chiuse provides agriturismo with a historic home that was built in 1840 and restored in the late 1990s. Located on the slopes of Montalcino, it has a swimming pool and is surrounded by vineyards, the winery, and the spectacular rolling hills of Tuscany.