Biondi-Santi and Brunello di Montalcino have always been synonymous. It all started in 1869, when Clementi Santi entered a prize-winning wine he labelled ‘Brunello’ made from the 1865 harvest at the agricultural fair in Montepulciano. This wine was made from a Sangiovese clone locally known as Brunello. His nephew, Ferrucio Biondi Santi, commercialised the family’s first Brunello with the 1888 vintage. Only four vintages were declared in the first 57 years of production – 1888, 1891, 1925 and 1945. Biondi Santi was named the sole producers of this wine in a government report dating back to 1932, and remained thus until after World War II.
Between 2016 and 2020, Jacopo and Tancredi Biondi-Santi sold their shares of the family estate to the privately owned French group EPI. Since the transition, CEO of the estate Giampiero Bertolini and his team have implemented several practices to uphold the famous Biondi Santi style. The estate now practices regenerative farming to restore soil health and also hired the star viticulturalist Pedro Parra to study different soil types and identify the best plots on the estate, and since the transition, they have introduced smaller oak barrels and removed much of the larger, old wood from the winery. Finally, some of the oldest plots are being replanted, including the most recently acquired vineyard in 2019 (5 ha).
Today, Tenuta il Greppo comprises 150 hectares, with 33 hectares under vine, split across five sites. Villa Greppo and the winery sit at 500 metres above sea level, the highest point of the estate, where the oldest vineyard lies, planted in 1936. The other vineyard sites, Scarnacuoia, Pievecchia, I Pieri and Ribusuoli are located respectively to the west, north, east and south-east of the town of Montalcino, all preserving a predominantly eastern exposition and high altitudes, which is instrumental for preserving Biondi-Santi’s signature style, driven by elegance, fresh acidity and moderate alcohol. The oldest vineyards, those over 25 years of age, are the source of grapes for the Riserva, the 10 to 25-year-old vineyards produce the fruit for the Brunello, and those younger than 10 years old are used for the Rosso.
The 2019 vintage started early and ended later than normal. Spring saw good levels of rainfall which helped maintain water storage levels ready for the warmer months. Summer was one of the hottest on record in Montalcino area. August was marked by cooler temperatures and some rain that replenished water reserves. This uneven trend continued until the harvest, which turned out to be one of the latest in recent years. The fruit for the Rosso 2019 was sourced from estate vineyards of Ribusoli lying south-east of Montalcino and Pievecchia on the northern flank of Montalcino.The Rosso 2019 was aged in Slavonian oak barrels for 12 months.
The 2019 Rosso di Montalcino keeps me coming back to the glass to take in its dusty mix of dried strawberries and currants offset by lifting nuances of shaved pine and mint. Soft and round in expression, the 2019 impresses on its lush textures and vivid wild berry fruit. Through it all, a core of saline tension builds, mingling minerals with gentle tannins, as the 2019 finishes with a staining of concentration, yet maintains a lovely freshness. Eric Guido, Vinous