Montalcino is regarded as one of Italy’s best appellations. Located in south central Tuscany below Chianti, the wines of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Rosso di Montalcino DOC are made of a Sangiovese clone called “brunello,” which means “little dark one,” a reference to the brown tones in the skin of the grape. Unlike some Tuscan appellations that allow other grapes to be blended with Sangiovese, Brunello di Montalcino is entirely Sangiovese. Montalcino itself is a picturesque, hill-top town not especially well known for wine production until the mid-19th century, when a local vineyard owner isolated the brunello clone and planted it. Other growers followed suit. Nevertheless it wasn’t until 1970s that wine enthusiasts started paying attention to Brunello di Montalcino, which by then was becoming an outstanding wine. Today there are 120 estates in the DOCG, up from about 25 estates in 1975. Brunellos in general are bigger, darker, more tannic and more powerful wines than Chiantis or most other Sangioveses. By law they must be aged for four years, and two of those years must be in wooden barrels. Rosso di Montalcino is a DOC than encompasses the exact same area as the DOCG, the difference being that Rosso de Montalcinos require only one year of aging. There are also Montalcino Indicazione Geographica Tipica (IGT) wines, which are often innovative table wines made from a blend of traditional and non-traditional grapes.
This red grape is largely grown in central Italy. As the sole component or in a blend, it gives us Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Morellino and Super Tuscans, among other favorites wines. The name is derived from the Latin for “blood of Jove.”