Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany is one of Italy’s and possibly the world’s most respected red wines. With DOCG status, it stands at the top of the Italian wine quality pyramid. DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) means that the wines have highly regulated production methods and guaranteed quality. The standard requires that Brunello be made solely with the Sangiovese grape, specifically the Sangiovese Gross clone, with no international varieties allowed. Additionally, the wine must have a minimum of 12.5% ABV with a minimum aging of four years prior to release, with at least two years spent in barrels and a minimum of four months in the bottle.
Brunello wines tend to be fuller-bodied and more structured than other wines in Tuscany, with more notably forward black fruit flavors backed by notes of chocolate and leather. With Brunello’s fruit intensity, high acid, and firm tannins, this wine is known for its ageability (10-20 years and even longer are not uncommon).
San Felice Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2017 ($66)
The San Felice estate is a shining example of Brunello di Montalcino. The estate is located in the heart of the Chianti Classico region. “Classico” specifically designates the original, historical growing area in Tuscany dating back to the early 1700s. Just a few kilometers from Siena, San Felice stands with its splendid Borgo San Felice. Once a medieval village, today the property includes two restaurants (one with a Michelin star), 59 rooms (premium and suites) and 2 private villas. Borgo San Felice is the only Relais & Châteaux in the Chianti Classico region.
The San Felice estate vineyards are located in prestigious designations of origin, from Chianti Classico (150 hectares) to Montalcino (23 hectares) and Bolgheri (15 hectares). San Felice expanded in 1981, acquiring the Campogiovanni estate in Montalcino, along the south-west slope of the Montalcino hillside. In 2016, the estate expanded again with a strategic six-hectare vineyard in Bolgheri at Le Sondraie, where the Bell’Aja label originated.
Fermented in stainless steel tanks, aged for three years in Slavonian oak casks and 500-liter tonneaux, and then another twelve months in the bottle, San Felice’s Campogiovanni is a spectacular example of what the varietal can offer. It has a deep garnet color and aromas of both red and black fruit (ripe strawberries and blackberries) that lead to notes of tobacco, leather, and spice. The palate reveals savory balsamic notes plus cooked fruits and berry preserves. Chalky tannins and a long finish round out this rich wine. It pairs perfectly with grilled or slow-roasted meats and aged cheeses such as pecorino, parmesan, and asiago.
San Felice Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino is a muscular wine built to last – it could easily age another 20 years. The estate is clearly doing something right, as this expression has landed five times on the top 100 list for Wine Spectator!