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Castello Banfi: the Montalcino portfolio unveiled

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Amiata, the extinct volcano that presides over Montalcino was considered by the Etruscans to be the home of their gods.

In the shelter of this mountain, lies the Banfi estate. A special site, the Mariani brothers, after acquiring the property in 1978 quickly set to work to better understand their land, for they knew their principal grape variety, Sangiovese, to be like Pinot Noir – site sensitive.

They carried out extensive soil analysis to understand where Sangiovese would flourish, enlisting the help of the university of Milan, and viticulture expert Attilio Scienza to research the 650 different clones of Sangiovese found present in their vineyards. What clone of Sangiovese would best suit which soil?

In 2009, after nearly 30 years of research, the Marrucheto vineyard was planted with three clones deemed to be the most complex and complementary – Janus 10: bright ruby in colour and intensely perfumed, Janus 50: providing the backbone of well developed tannins; and BF30: contributing power and finesse. It is an important new release for Banfi, the Vigna Marrucheto – a wine that represents the passion and perseverance of the Mariani family for their vines and the unique terroir of Castello Banfi, Montalcino.

La Pettegola Vermentino 2020 – 90 points

With fruit harvested from vineyards in Montalcino and the Maremma, this varietal Vermentino succinctly expresses its origins – it smells and tastes of sunflowers and the sea, floral and saline. It is also exquisitely fruity with flavours of white grapefruit and pineapple.
Three months on the lees gives the wine the structure and presence to fill the mid palate without making it feel full or heavy. Eminently drinkable without food, though it would pair beautifully with feta salads, oven roasted fish and plates of cured hams.

Fontanelle Chardonnay 2019 – 92 points

Alluringly, deliciously oak forward on the nose. Fermentation and maturation is in new French oak and acacia, lending the wine a silky texture and aromatic notes of vanilla and honey. The nose may appear sweet and fulsome, but the wine is dry, medium bodied and elegant. No malolactic fermentation.
With a modest 13.5% alcohol, there is great balance and direction on the palate. Notes of crunchy golden delicious apple and almond persist onto a long and very clean finish. Extremely moreish.

Summus 2017 – 95 points

Glossy in colour, decadently rich in aroma and opulent in body and flavour, a wine made from vines that evidently thrived in the intense heat of 2017.
Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah contribute their finest qualities to this blend. The Syrah giving spiciness, blackberry fruit and velvety texture, the Cabernet adding its characteristic dynamism to the structure and Sangiovese most transparently expressing its place – in the violet and thyme aromas and thrilling acidity creating a certain poise that only this variety, growing in Tuscany, can offer.

Brunello di Montalcino Poggio alle Mura 2016 – 94 points

Sweet and charming on the nose, vibrant and fresh on the palate – a wine made from vineyards surrounding the castle. Drinking beautifully now, but that will age for many years to come. Brilliant ruby in colour with a ripe blackberry and cherry fruit aroma. Toasty, salted caramel notes nod to the 2 years in large and small French oak barrels. With impressive tannins, coursing acidity and concentrated fruit, this would be a fine wine for meditative solitude. Or for sharing.

Brunello di Montalcino Vigna Marrucheto 2016 – 96 points

The inaugural vintage of ‘Vigna Marrucheto,’ an exhilaratingly complex wine made from three clones of Sangiovese, planted in three plots within a 10 ha single vineyard. Only 12,000 btls are made.
Limpid, ruby red in colour, Aromas and flavours are bright with primary fruit, classic morello cherry and that exquisite premium Sangiovese note of white peach, enriched by 30 months in large French oak. Tertiary characteristics of sweet fresh tobacco and dried autumn leaves are just beginning to appear adorning the wine with further complexity. The finish is tantalisingly long and sapid. Buy it by the case to enjoy its journey, year after year.

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Poggio all’Oro 2015 – 95 points

First produced in 1985 and thereafter only in the best vintages, this Riserva is very special, as Poggio all’Oro is released after six years instead of the five required for Brunello.
Mahogany tones in the colour, libraries and cigar boxes on the nose. Seamlessly made, and so easy to drink, such is the integration of soft, ripe tannins, and generous fruit. The palate is mouth filling, appealingly dense, redolent of flavours of red cherry, black plum and iris. The acidity is lively and energising, providing great finesse and balance.

Florus Moscadello 2017 – 94 points

Made from Moscato Bianco ‘Moscadello’ grapes dried on the vines, Florus holds within its liquid form every aroma and flavour from the family Rosaceae: apricots, strawberries, peaches, apples, and almonds. Deliciously sweet, this is a sumptuous wine with scintillating acidity that elevates and elongates the luxuriant fruit character. Enjoy well chilled after a good meal on its own or with a blue cheese, or some excellent dark chocolate. Expect immortality.

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