The History of Montalcino Wine

Brunello di Montalcino is a DOCG red wine. It is made only from grapes grown within the administrative boundary of the Municipality of Montalcino in the Province of Siena in south-eastern Tuscany. The Ombrone, Asso, and Orcia Rivers run through the manufacturing area, covering 243.62 sq. km.

Montalcino’s geographical characteristics

Because it was produced in different geological eras, the Montalcino Hill contains a variety of soil-type habitats, ranging from sandstone to a combination of limestone, alberese, and marl and sandy and clay-filled soil. Due to its location between the sea and the central Apennines, the climate is the Mediterranean with some continental features. The months of spring and fall see the most rain.

Fog and frost do not affect the mid-hill range. Furthermore, it is often windy, ensuring ideal conditions for plant health. Temperatures are mild during the vegetative phase, and the days are typically calm, which is a perfect environment for outstanding grape maturity.

The influence of Montalcino’s geography on its wine

Brunello wine’s qualities are defined by natural and human impacts. The modern winemaking techniques result from many years of observation and experimentation. Cultivation and pruning take into account soil and climate demands and the limited water supply, which necessitates ongoing efforts to keep the ground hydrated. The optimal state of grape maturation and its phytosanitary integrity are the outcome of soil and climate elements, as well as their control during the growth period.

Did you know?

Brunello, a diminutive of Bruno (“brown”), is the name that was given locally to what was believed to be an individual grape variety grown in Montalcino.

Montalcino wine’s origins

Montalcino’s profession for generations has been the manufacturing of great wines, including during the legendary siege of Montalcino in 1553. Moscatello, a sweet white wine recognized in the Universal Exposition of Paris in 1967, was the most well-known and prized wine in the area until the second part of the nineteenth century.

With the onset of phylloxera and oidium, which were destroying the vines, Ferruccio Biondi Santi, Clemente Santi’s grandson, began to research cloning the Sangiovese variety locally. This type was known as Brunello because of the exceptionally dark color of the grapes. His work and study yielded the Sangiovese Grosso variety, which still makes Brunello di Montalcino today.

Brunello was only recognized and valued in the surrounding area for many years, despite several accolades and recognitions, partly due to its high price. The vicissitudes of the early twentieth century set in motion a reduction in winemaking to the point where only a few growers continued to produce between the two World Wars.

After WWII, however, winemaking resumed, and some producers had the foresight to agree on production guidelines for Brunello di Montalcino. Brunello di Montalcino grew in popularity throughout Italy and then internationally after 1950.

Properties of the wine

Brunello di Montalcino is a ruby-colored wine with a distinct and powerful scent. It’s dry, toasty, tannic, robust, well-balanced, and leaves a lasting taste. Due to its attributes, Brunello di Montalcino may age well and improve over time.

The wine’s elegance and harmonic body make it ideal for matching structured foods such as fur and feather game, red meats, and even mushrooms and truffles. It’s also a good meditation wine because of its characteristics. Brunello’s temperature should be between 18 and 20 degrees Celsius to bring out the complex and harmonious smells.

The wine’s aging and storage

Brunello must be aged for at least two years in oak containers of any size and at least four months in the bottle before being released before January 1 of the fifth year following harvest. The vinification, storage, wood-aging, bottling, and bottle-aging procedures must all be completed in the production area.

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1553 – There was a legendary siege of Montalcino, but the production of great wines in Montalcino continued.

1967 – Moscatello, a sweet white wine, was recognized in the Universal Exposition of Paris. It was the most well-known and prized wine in Montalcino until the second part of the nineteenth century.

1950 – Brunello di Montalcino became known internationally.


  1. Kerin O’Keefe Brunello di Montalcino. Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Greatest Wines University of California Press 2012 ISBN 0-520-26564-5
  2. James Suckling. “Brunello di Montalcino: The Wines,” Wine Spectator, p.42, July 31, 2007.

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