Italy’s top winemaker Riccardo Cotarella has taken on a consultancy role at Castello Banfi in Montalcino.

Cotarella runs some 60 winemaking consultancies in Italy. He is behind such labels as Montioano (Falesco), Montevetrano (Azienda Agricola Montyevetrano), Pomorosso (Coppo), Serpico (Feudi di San Gregorio) and Coltassala (Castello di Volpaia).

Banfi, one of Italy’s largest estates with 850ha of vines in Montalcino, produces some 8m bottles of Tuscan wine, including a range of Brunellos and Supertuscan IGTs.

‘I’m delighted to share this responsibility and experience with Banfi’s highly competent and skilled winemaker team, headed by Rudi Buratti,’ Cotarella said.

Cotarella – whose brother Renzo is managing director at Marchesi Antinori – said he needed to study the situation at Banfi before ‘implementing any changes’, although he has already made some decisions about the blends for the 2001 vintage, halving the production.

‘For now I will be fine-tuning their DOC Sant’Antimo Bordeaux blends, such as Summus, Cum Laude and Excelsius. I have already made a rigorous selection of the wines to be blended for vintage 2001, cutting the production by 50%.’

Cotarella said his philosophy is to produce wines that have a definite expression of character, without losing track of elegance and harmony.

He said, ‘My aim is to follow Banfi’s philosophy and respect the character of the grape variety and best possible adoption to the terroir in order to produce the finest expression of Montalcino’s production.’

Written by Michele Shah