Welcome to Montalcino, where time slows and wine flows with the easy rhythm of Tuscan life. Located in the heart of Tuscany, Montalcino invites you to savor the simplicity of good wine and good company. Amidst green hills, the Sangiovese grape thrives, weaving its magic into the celebrated Brunello di Montalcino wine.
Here, winemaking is a dance of tradition and innovation, resulting in a full-bodied, unpretentious red wine. The area spans just 16 km where 250 producers continue time old traditions making their legendary vino rosso.
Fancy a glass of intensely perfumed garnet red Montalcino wine? Keep reading to find out everything you want to know about this delicious red wine.
What is a Brunello di Montalcino wine?
Brunello di Montalcino wine takes its name from the place where it was born: the medieval hilltop village of Montalcino, in the province of Siena. The grapes used are 100% Sangiovese (click here if you want to know more about it), but they are called “Brunello” (bruno means dark in Italian) because of the dusky color that they have when they grow in the area.
This wine is a DOCG product which means it can only be produced using grapes grown in a very specific part of Southern Tuscany. It must be aged for 50 months aging with at least two of those years spent aging in a barrique. The more exquisite ‘riserva’ wines require an extra year spent aging!
Where is the Montalcino wine region?
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG can be produced in a very specific part of Tuscany, the same where it was first born back in 1888! Its origin is deeply rooted in the Biondi Santi family, local wine producers who experimented for generations before they were able to create the wine we drink today.
If you look at the Montalcino wine map below, you’ll see that this wine is produced in the Val d’Orcia part of Southern Tuscany. It’s nestled underneath the Chianti wine region, and the famous Tuscan city Siena and about a 40 minute drive away from Montepulciano.
What does Montalcino wine taste like?
Traditional Brunello di Montalcino typically has a gorgeous garnet red color, and you can expect an aroma of tobacco, leather, red berries, and musk. On the palate, you’ll notice some real tannin.
Newer contemporary styles, on the other hand, are ruby red in color with aromas of sour cherries, geranium, and sweet spices. The more delicate smell matches its taste: the tannins are less prevalent and the taste is, overall, softer.
What is Rosso di Montalcino wine?
Be careful not to confuse Brunello di Montalcino with its “younger brother”, the Rosso di Montalcino. The main difference lies, in fact, in the aging: the former can be sold on the market only after 5 years after the wine harvest, while the latter can be found already after 1 year.
Rosso di Montalcino has similar characteristics but retains an “easier” spirit and overall freshness when compared to its more aged counterpart. The color is a bright ruby red, with a scent defined by sour cherries, red and black berries, and violet. Since it’s less aged than the Brunello, you can expect to taste an intense, but not overwhelming, tannin.
Why is Brunello wine so expensive?
Time is money basically! This wine requires an exceptional amount of time resting before it can be sold, during which your winemaker isn’t making any profit. This Thus, Italian Brunello wine comes with a higher than average price point especially when you compare it to a Chianti wine. This is a wine that can be aged for long periods of time too so the older the Brunello, the more expensive the bottle.
What are the best years for Brunello?
2016 was an absolute killer year and a textbook perfect growing season for Montalcino wine. 2015 and 2010 were also great years although not quite as good as 2016.
What is the best winery in Montalcino?
Some of our favorite Brunello di Montalcino wineries include:
- Tornesi winery – they offer a lovely lunch at the property too
- Le Chiuse
- Poggio di Sotto
The best Montalcino wines to swirl, swish and sip in 2024
Here’s our 101 breakdown of the best Montalcino Italy wine to try! It’s not an exhaustive list, but a selection that we think you will enjoy.
A winner of Italy’s annual Gambero Rosso wine awards in 2024, let’s start with this beautiful Montalcino wine from Poggio di Sotto. This is a really elegant wine rather than a big, bold, hard hitting one. Think cherry, balsamic, and candied orange peel. It’s a wine to drink now or keep it cellared for years to come.
- Color: ruby red
- Style: elegant
- Flavor: cherry, balsamic, candied orange
This winery practices organic principles even if they’re not certified organic. They are a small family production and make just 50,000 bottles of wine a year. Their Brunello di Montalcino is fresh and elegant with a really long finish. Think velvet tannins, cherry, plum, blackberry, rosemary and lavender.
- Color: Garnet
- Style: Intensely aromatic and fresh
- Flavor: red fruits and spice
Le Chiuse is a wonderful small winery that follow biodynamic winemaking principles. They produce just 33,000 bottles of wine a year of which just 2000 are the Riserva wines. Their 2012 Riserva wine uses the best grapes from the oldest vines and is full of notes of red fruits, and armoatic herbs.
- Color: Bright garnet
- Style: fresh and full-bodied
- Flavor: raspberry, liquorice, wildflowers and mushrooms
This winery is smaller yet again, producing just 22,000 total bottles of wine a year! About half of those are the Brunello di Montalcino. They’re a certified organic winery and produce very clean, elegant kinds of wine. Their Brunello wine is a full-bodied, structured and elegant wine. Think notes of currants and violets.
- Color: Garnet
- Style: Modern style of Brunello, creamy and round
- Flavor: Plums and cherries
Ridolfi is a larger winery compared to our other choices – they make over 100,000 bottles a year (still small in the grand scheme of things). They are in the process of converting into being a certified organic winery and already practicing those principles. Their Brunello is a little smoky with notes of liquorice, blackberries, and cherry.
- Color: Garnet
- Style: Full bodied
- Flavor: floral, mineral and spicy
This is a gorgeous winery in Montalcino with a stunning tasting room and view over the vineyards. They are family-run and produce just 36,000 total bottles of wine. They are extremely drinkable wines with a lovely freshness to them. Their Brunello is full of small red fruits, vanilla and jam, and has a wonderful long finish.
- Color: Ruby red
- Style: Fresh
- Flavor: Red fruits, vanilla, jam
Want to go on a Montalcino wine tour? Join Liv on an 7 day tour in Southern Tuscany with Untold Italy. We’ll show you the highlights of this beautiful wine region with stops at thermal baths, hilltop towns, wineries and even ride a vintage Fiat500! Find out more now!
Discovered something new in our guide to italian red wine Brunello? Let us know in the comments if you have tried this wine or are inspired to go wine tasting.