Brunello di Montalcino 2018 – Castello Banfi.
“Brunello Brilliance: Castello Banfi’s 2018 Montalcino”
Recently we had the pleasure of tasting the 2018 Brunello di Montalcino from Castello Banfi, a well-known winery that delivers a delightful experience in a recognisable style. This renowned wine hails from the picturesque Montalcino village, nestled in the southern part of Tuscany, Italy. Before delving into the review of this exceptional wine, let’s take a moment to explore the rich heritage of Montalcino, the history of Castello Banfi, and the winemaking tradition that has made Brunello di Montalcino a global favorite.
About the Region
Montalcino is a name synonymous with exceptional Italian wine. Situated in the heart of Tuscany, this small village is not only blessed with a breathtaking landscape but also boasts a coveted spot on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Montalcino’s vineyards are graced with the Sangiovese grape, the dominant varietal in the region and the sole constituent of Brunello di Montalcino.
The journey of Brunello di Montalcino began in 1967 when it gained DOC status and subsequently achieved DOCG recognition in 1980. Such prestigious designation comes with stringent regulations to uphold the wine’s authenticity and quality. Tuscany, the region Montalcino calls home, is steeped in wine history, dating back to the Etruscan era. Over time, the wine culture evolved, culminating in the exceptional wines we enjoy today.
Montalcino’s terroir is defined by rocky soils and loose sand, coupled with a Mediterranean climate marked by warm summers, tempered by the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea. These conditions allow Sangiovese to thrive, ripening slowly and beautifully.
About the Winery
The success story of Castello Banfi begins in 1919 when John F. Mariani, an Italian American, founded Banfi Vintners, a wine store in New York. Fast forward to the 1970s when John’s sons, John Jr. and Harry, embarked on an extraordinary venture that would reshape Italian wine history. With their American spirit and dedication, they acquired Castello Poggio alle Mura near Montalcino, investing over $200 million to revitalize the estate.
In the mid-’70s, the renowned Italian oenologist Ezio Rivella joined the Banfi project, and the wines began to gain recognition. In 1984, the winery was renamed Castello Banfi. Today, it boasts over 800 hectares of vineyards and is the largest producer of Brunello di Montalcino in Italy. Guided by James Mariani and Cristina Mariani-May, Castello Banfi continues its mission to maintain its wines at the pinnacle of the global wine scene.
Castello Banfi’s dedication to excellence is evident in its extensive work with Sangiovese clones, with over 160 varieties tested and 15 perfect clones selected for cultivation. The winery has expanded into a multifaceted enterprise, including two restaurants (one Michelin-starred), a hotel, the winery itself, an enoteca, and a glass museum, welcoming over 60,000 visitors annually. Castello Banfi produces 600,000 bottles per year, with 60% exported to more than 80 countries worldwide. Their wines, including Sangiovese, Merlot, Pinot Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc, are aged exclusively in French and Slovenian oak.
About the Wine
Now, let us turn our attention to the star of the show—the 2018 Brunello di Montalcino from Castello Banfi. Crafted from 100% Sangiovese Grosso grapes, also known as Brunello, this wine adheres to the stringent DOCG regulations. Brunello wines must age for a minimum of four years, including two years in oak barrels, while a Brunello Riserva matures for five years.
Banfi’s approach includes micro vinification, with each grape lot from different vineyards vinified separately. After a 30-month aging period in Slovenian foudres, the Brunello is blended and further aged for six months in smaller barrels.
In the glass, the wine presents a beautiful ruby-red hue, with a rich tannin structure and a captivating dark red sheen. The aromas are enticing, offering notes of dried fruits such as plums and figs, complemented by jammy cherries and blackberries. The extended wood aging imparts delightful vanilla tones, with a subtle herbal nuance, along with hints of beetroot, tobacco, and leather.
Upon tasting, the wine reveals a full-bodied character bursting with flavors of red fruit, herbs, and spices. Its strong and enduring finish leaves a lasting impression, with well-balanced tannins and the delightful presence of dark cherry flavors. The harmony between fruitiness and body is impeccable, showcasing the wine’s potential even in its youthful state. A touch of black pepper in the finish and firm tannins make this Brunello a wine to savor and remember for years to come. It is unquestionably worth the experience, offering a glimpse into the exceptional winemaking prowess of Castello Banfi and the timeless allure of Montalcino.
As we sipped and savoured this Brunello, it became evident that it embodies the essence of Montalcino’s unique terroir and the meticulous artistry of Castello Banfi. The perfect balance between fruitiness and body, the harmonious interplay of tannins, and the long, memorable finish all speak to the wine’s potential for aging and evolution. We award this classic Brunello di Montalcino, with its characteristic style, with a 93-point DWA score.
This wine is reviewed by our own Martijn Coenen. The wines of Castello Banfi are imported in the Netherlands by Goessens Professionals in Wine and available through associated retailers and restaurants.
Taste date: November 2023
Score: 93/100 DWA Score
Website: Castello Banfi