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Biondi Santi to release special-edition 2012 Riserva Brunello

The Brunello di Montalcino winery has said it will release a special-edition 2012 Riserva in honour of the late Franco Biondi Santi and has also spoken about new vineyard trials.

Biondi Santi said its Riserva Brunello di Montalcino 2012 would be released on 1 March 2020.

It will carry a special label to commemorate Franco Biondi Santi, who died in 2013, and the recommended price will be £460 per bottle.

Franco was grandson of Ferruccio Biondi Santi, was known for isolating the Sangiovese clone known as BBS11 that helped to create Brunello di Montalcino wines.

But it was Franco’s time as head winemaker between 1970 and 2013 that developed Biondi Santi’s critically-acclaimed style of elegant and ageworthy wines; in spite of the market trend in the 1980s and 90s to produce full-bodied, fruit-driven and heavily extracted wines.

‘It takes a strong character to not be influenced by trends and fashions of the time and to continue to hold onto a vision that was not always applauded,’ said Tancredi Biondi Santi, Franco Biondi Santi’s grandson.

‘I see this Riserva as a perfect example of my grandfather’s interpretation of the terroir at Tenuta Greppo, the quintessence of the style of Brunello he preferred.

‘It is gentlemanly, yet austere, driven by the classic freshness that binds together all the wines which carry Franco’s signature.’

New release strategy for Riserva wine

Biondi Santi has to date only released a Riserva wine from 39 vintages since 1888.

The 2012 Riserva may mark the end of an era but it also heralds a new release strategy.

It’s the first vintage where the winery held back release until it considered the wine was ready for drinking, albeit it could age for longer, too.

‘We taste the wine and when we think the vintage is ready and can show appropriately in the glass immediately, we release it,’ said Tancredi Biondi Santi.

‘Brunello Riserva is considered a wine that can be aged a very long time, which is true, but the problem is people are exaggerating the time for ageing.

‘Our philosophy now is to push more on this topic and release the vintage when we think it is time to be enjoyed.’

The changing face of Riserva

France’s EPI group bought a majority stake in Biondi Santi in 2016 and its investment has allowed a more complex analysis of vineyard soils.

Scans taken at multiple depths within the soil led to the vineyard being divided into dozens of micro parcels, which resulted in 12 separate vinifications in the 2019 vintage.

Biondi-Santi hopes to understand how different vineyard plots impact wine characteristics, like acidity, color, and structure.

This study will also impact how the Riserva is made. It was previously produced from vines aged 25 years and older, with the oldest vines planted in 1936.

But this restriction was lifted from the 2018 vintage to allow more flexibility, based on its vineyard analysis.

‘The work we have to do now is to understand what parcels are the right parcels for the Riserva,’ said Biondi Santi’s technical director, Federico Radi. ‘It’s not the better grape, it’s the right grape.’

See also: 

Franco Biondi Santi dies at 91


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