Famous wine regions need wineries like Il Poggione. The name of Brunello di Montalcino – and the prices that can be charged for its wines – means that the wines themselves can get out of the reach of wine lovers. I would love to have a cellar full of Soldera’s Le Case Basse but sadly that was never going to happen. The highest quality + small production + world-wide demand = high prices. In that situation we look to the producers who year in and year out produce high quality wines in reasonable numbers which are true to type. The Franceschi family have overseen the development of this large estate (fifth biggest in Montalcino at 125ha of vines plus 12,000 olive trees) since the end of the nineteenth century and that continuity shows. They have also had the services of first Pierluigi Talenti, a key figure in the development of Brunello as a quality wine, and then several generations of Bindocci, who have overseen the estate and the winery. This continuity is reflected in their traditional approach to wine making. They are situated down a remarkable ‘white road’ below picturesque San Angelo in Colle, ie in Montacino’s south east sector.
But this does not mean that things have stood still here. The new winery, built in 2004, is a model of simple lines, utility and, it has to be said, disguise! I can’t remember a winery that has done a better job of hiding the wires, pipes and general paraphernalia of wine making. It is as though the wine transports itself magically from press to fermentation vessel to ageing barrel! But this is to jump ahead. The real work starts in the vineyard where meticulous care is taken to ensure that the very best quality fruit is delivered in perfect condition to the winery. They then destem, press and start fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats which can be pumped over internally. The winery’s real distinctive is that it still uses the ‘submerged cap’ method of extraction, a grid keeping the rising grapes skins in constant contact with the must. As a result maceration times are not excessive with 7-10 days for simple wines, 20 days for Brunello and 25 for Brunello riserva. After fermentation the wine is transferred back to stainless steel vats to undergo malolactic fermentation. The temperature is then dropped to 8-10° C to accelerate precipitation of solids which helps to clarify and stabilise the young wine. The wines are then aged in oak – 33 and 52 hl of fine French oak (Allier) for Brunello. These large barrels (picture below) can be used for 20 years and are reconditioned every 3-4 years. The less prestigious IGT or Rosso lines may get a spell in the picturesque oval Slavonian oak casks.
Unusually for Montalcino, Il Poggione produces quite a range of wines – these include a Brunello Riserva, a Super Tuscan, a basic red, a rosé, a Vin Santo and a Moscadello. They also make a sparkling Sangiovese rosé of which I have a bottle and I am waiting for a suitably off-the-wall occasion to try! On the visit we tasted their two core wines:
Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2011 – this comes from Sangiovese (of course) in the younger vineyards, 10-15 year old and the resulting wine is aged for 12 months, 70% in large casks and 30% in barriques and then held for 6 months in bottle before release. Medium minus ruby in colour with a perceptible purple tinge still, savoury fruit (subtle blackberry to mulberry) on nose and palate, violet, herbal and liquorice touches, crisp acidity and a manageable tannic structure. It is all to easy to describe Rosso di Montalcino as a baby Brunello but really it is is quite a different wine. It can be aged but is probably most enjoyable for its freshness, refreshing acidity and great savoury notes.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2008 – perhaps the most important wine for the company, the straight Brunello comes from the fruit of 20-25 year old vines and unlike the Rosso above it spends three years in the larger casks, a year more than is required by the regulations. Clear garnet rim in the glass (see picture above right), balsam, aged red fruit and violets on the nose, mouth-filling structure including very obvious fine tannins, acidity in balance with the fruit, very long, many years of potential for further ageing. Definitely needs food, especially meat, now, but will soften and become silkier over the next two decades.
Reliable, high quality, true-to-type traditional style Brunello and Rosso is exactly what we look to Il Poggione to produce decade after decade.
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Page created June 2013