Francesco is exactly the sort of winemaker we love. Young, dynamic, hard-working, self-made and a go-getter. He is picky, just like we are, and will only produce what he loves drinking himself.
Though Francesco was born and raised in Montalcino, his family doesn’t come from a winemaking family. His father originally bought 1 hectare of steep hillside land with sheep, olives and a few ancient and abandoned vines as a place to picnic and to take the family on the weekends. It is known locally as L’Aietta, meaning the courtyard of a small farm. Francesco eventually discovered that this little piece of stony land was within the parameters of DOCG Brunello di Montalcino and could produce one of Italy’s greatest vinous treasures. And that is exactly what he did.
But before he could make wine, the land and wine had to be registered. Since he was only 17 and ¾ at the time, his mother had to do it for him. But it all worked out so in 2001, the precocious Francesco was able produce his first Brunello di Montalcino. While trying to develop his vineyard, he went to oenology school and took jobs at other wineries to learn more and get experience. In 2004, he decided to rip out the old vines and plant higher quality bush vines instead – all done by himself.
Time passed and he added a couple of other parcels – one of which is in Castelnuovo dell’Abate. He began producing additional wines – a Rosso di Montalcino, a Rosato, a 5-variety red wine blend, a sweet wine from dried grapes and a sparkling wine from Sangiovese – all produced using indigenous yeasts and minimum intervention in his tiny cellar overlooking the hill of L’Aietta. Despite his advancements, he remains miniscule (the smallest Brunello producer in Montalcino), which is easier since he does all of the work himself. It’s incredible really and his attention to detail is truly felt in his wines. Highly recommended.
About the Region
Montalcino is considered one of Italy’s greatest red wine growing areas, alongside Barolo and Barberesco in Piemonte and Chianti Classico, its slightly northern Tuscan cousin. Its terrain is different from that of Chianti, however. While Chianti is thick with brush, spiked Cyprus trees and hidden pockets of vineyards, Montalcino is wide open with rolling hills often brown brush and grass dried from the sweltering sun.
If Italy was ever looking for its own “Wild West”, this place would be perfect. Its vineyards are planted with a different clone of Sangiovese, one that was recognised in the 1800s for its dark colour. It is here where Brunello di Montalcino is produced, “Brunello” appropriately meaning “dark one”. Due to its unique clone as well as its hotter and more open terrain and its clay-rich soil, its wines tend to be ripe and full bodied.
This is particularly impressive considering that its Brunellos can only be 100% Sangiovese, unlike Chiantis which have more relaxed regulations in terms of varieties. Brunellos are also required to age longer than neighbouring Chianti, and many producers still age their wines in large wooden casks called “botti”. For a standard Brunello bottling, the wine must be aged a total of 4 years upon release with at least 2 if not 3 years in “botti” and one or two in bottle. With so many ageing requirements, a number of producers also make Rosso di Montalcino, a type of entry-level wine, which is released only after a minimum of 1.5 years.