This wine spotlight shines on a tremendous wine producer in Montalcino, Italy. Altesino has long been one of Montalcino’s top producers. Founded in 1972 Altesino has brought on a new era of top quality Brunello wines.
All Brunello di Montalcino wine is made exclusively from Sangiovese grapes grown on the hillsides of Montalcino just 20 miles (30km) south of Siena. The word Brunello translates roughly as ‘little dark one’, and is the local vernacular name for Sangiovese Grosso, the large-berried form of Sangiovese which grows in the area. You could say Sangiovese grapes have adapted well in the region…planted here impressively since 800 AD.
Arriving in southern Tuscany’s Montalcino region you feel as if you have done just that, arrived as if there was nowhere else you should be. The lush landscape of the spring is nothing short of heavenly, and the winter is quiet yet calming in its rustic brittle nature. You could say its the hibernation of things to come as wine makers look to the harvest of the new year. But work doesn’t stop on a cold December morning. Rometti had the great pleasure of meeting up with Altesino’s General Manager Claudio Basla who started with Altesino from their very first vintage. Basla is quite the joker, but one thing is curtain he is truly passionate about his wine. He shared with us what makes their wine tick, and talked about what makes the Montalcino region one of the most prized places in the world to produce wine, as well as how Altesino is positioned very well to consistently be one of the great authorities in Italian wines.
The Altesino estate covers approximately 80 hectares. The vineyards consist of ~45 hectares, sub-divided into the “crus” of Altesino, Macina, Castelnuovo dell’Abate (in the district of Velona), Pianezzine and Montosoli. Other than Sangiovese di Montalcino, the majority of the grapes grown (used to make Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino Palazzo Altesi), there is Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (blended with Sangiovese di Montalcino to make Alte d’Altesi and Rosso di Altesino), Trebbiano and Malvasia (for Vin Santo) and Vermentino, Chardonnay and Viognier used to make Bianco di Altesino.
Because the Altesino vineyard plots are spread out in parts of the region giving different exposures to the vine, how does this put you at an advantage?. “different winds and temperatures, northern parts are protected by the winds, when there are hot vintages the north facing vinyards will give ideal production, in complicated vintages the south faceing vineyards can also deliver ideal productions. There are merely different exposures, plots and microclimates.” says Basla.
What is it that makes Brunello’s stand out from other wines? “…the particularity of Brunello di Monatlcino is that there is compulsory longer aging. At least two years in wood, then at their discretion they can continue to age in barrels, tanks, or bottles. Many factors such as vintage, size harvest, and capacity of barrels dictate the true aging process. This aging extends to four years prior to selling to the market.”
We later cracked a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino 2001 in the Siena’s Piazza del Campo after a great day of tasting. The wine opened up nicely with a matured strawberry, and cherry notes, it later evolves with dark tones of chocolate, and light oak, perhaps hints of tobacco. Once it rolls off your tongue your hit with some acidity but the tannins hold firm to a nice smooth velvet finish.
Altesino continues to produce some impressively elegant wines with 90+ ratings on their ’04, (WE 94) ’06 (SP 91, WE 90) ’07 (SP 92, WE 91).
Altesino – Brunello di Montalcino 2001
Rometti Score: 92
Wine Spectator: 90
Wine Enthusiast: 91
Altesino s.p.a. – societa’ agricola
Località Altesino, 54 53024 Montalcino (Siena)
Tel. 0577 806208
Fax 0577 806131