The Rise of Rosso di Montalcino

Any lover of the region's wines would be doing themself a disservice by not exploring what the best Rossos have to offer.Eric Guido, Vinous

Brunello’s incredible rise to the front rank of the fine wine scene is a story you are going to hear about regularly from us, but do not let the wonderful Rosso di Montalcinos fall into the shadow of their elder brother! As Eric Guido declares in his recent article, “I believe that the Rosso di Montalcino category has never been better than it is today. Top-notch Rosso di Montalcino delivers a highly enjoyable expression of Sangiovese with Montalcino pedigree that communicates house style and terroir associated with it”. Indeed, there are some superb Rossos out there that deliver the second wine satisfaction of a Classed Growth Bordeaux at prices you would usually find in some obscure part of the Entre-Deux-Mers! 

Perched on a hill with unobscured views of the Orcia, Ombrone and Asso valleys, Montalcino continues to see improvement in quality, with increasingly delineated sub-regions leading to profoundly varied expressions of Sangiovese. Brunellos must age for four years, yet sometimes we don’t want to wait that long, so in 1984 the category of Rosso di Montalcino was established so estates could release a portion of their wines whilst the Brunellos do their due diligence in the barrel. Often sourced from the same sites, Rossos can offer the intensity and elegance of Brunello whilst remaining accessible in youth. They also tell us much about the vintage before the Brunellos are released, and as Guido says, “let’s not forget everyone's second-favorite part about Rosso di Montalcino (the first being to drink them), and that’s to think about what we can expect from the forthcoming Brunellos of these vintages”.  

Stunning views from the heart of Montalcinio

Montalcino rising star Patrizia Cencioni’s vineyards are exclusively classified as Brunello, yet much of their grapes are declassified to Rosso, following regulations on how much Brunello each estate can release under the title. To put the quality into perspective, Cencioni’s 2019 Rosso di Montalcino garnered 92pts from Vinous and also Decanter, the same score as most producer’s estate Brunello! We’re currently enjoying Valdicava’s Rosso 2019, unscored as yet but clearly a remarkable wine and very much in the mould of the epic 2010 that outshone a significant portion of Montalcino’s wider Brunello production that year! These are serious wines that, like an Alter Ego de Palmer or Carruades de Lafite, are very much capable of standing on their own two feet. 

Alongside the Baby Brunellos, you have your immediately quaffable Rossos that are gorgeous on release, with moderate acidity, lovely pure fruit & soft, supple tannins. Writing for Decanter, Aldo Fiodello characterises this style as “lighter and less extracted than Brunello, the best examples of Rosso di Montalcino are full of freshness and layered with spices”.Whilst Baby Brunellos can be punchy and powerful, these Rossos are delicate and perfumed, with great tension & minerality. Critics have been first to sit up and take note of all that these wines offer, with Eric Guido awarding 92 points to Castello di Romitorio’s superb 2019 Rosso. These typically cost what you would expect from a Tuesday night supper wine yet offer far more drinking pleasure! 

We are very excited to share some of the superb 2019 & 2020 Rossos this year from the esteemed likes of Valdicava, Romitorio, Patrizia Cencioni, Argiano and Le Gode. 2019 & 2020 are shaping up to be superb vintages, so watch this space...