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Castello Banfi – An Artisan’s Approach

There is great anticipation for the release of the first bottles of the 2007 vintage Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino and the estate’s top cru, Poggio alle Mura. By law released five years after the vintage, this particular wine from this particular vintage has a lot riding on it: after all, this is the first vintage to be produced using the estate’s new micro-winery, dubbed “Horizon.”

Pictures, clockwise: Castello Banfi, company crest, family proprietor Cristina Mariani-May, the prestigious Poggio Alle Mura cru, the hybrid oak and stainless steel fermentation tanks created for the Horizon micro-winery (and detail inset).

But what exactly is Horizon? It is the culmination of an entire production philosophy aimed at achieving excellence through a series of features and high-level solutions that go from the vineyard to the cellar, to improve every aspect of production.

What can you see that involves Horizon? At the heart of the project, entirely developed in-house, there is an original idea which is actually visible to all visitors of the winery: the fermentation tanks that combine oak and stainless steel as their construction materials. In a totally original concept, large traditionally-shaped fermentation vats (tini, in Italian) have a base and cap of stainless steel with jackets of replaceable oak staves, thus combining the advantages of both materials. With Horizon the quality of premium wines of Castello Banfi makes a further and decisive step towards absolute excellence.

As family proprietor Cristina Mariani-May says, “Horizon allows us to achieve and maintain outstanding quality and the highest expression of terroir. It was developed mainly with two key concepts in mind: precise viticulture and winemaking accuracy. Banfi has always been obsessive about detail and we have constantly aimed for excellence. Our Horizon winery is therefore an essential next step allowing us to enhance our authentic ‘Banfi style’ that, together with the unique features of our territory in southern Montalcino, will feature in our range of wines as from the 2007 vintage, the first to be vinified according to these new practices.”

Mariani-May continues, “After careful studying the soils of our estate, researching the best local clones of Sangiovese to match with those soils, and then studying different woods and barrel types, we are able to highlight the optimal expression of Sangiovese. What we needed was to find a fermentation process that could further build on these strengths.” Horizon would seem to be the answer.

But Horizon is not just about the barrels. Above all, it is about detail. Castello Banfi manages each of its Brunello vineyards individually, row by row, vine by vine, as an artisan. After manual harvesting and a rigid selection of grapes in the vineyard, a further sorting selection takes place at the winery, by bunch as well as individual grapes on special sorting tables. Nothing is left to chance in the making of this wine, right from the very first stages.

Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino cru, aged in 350-litre barriques and large 60 and 90-hectolitre casks, is the symbol of the new ‘Banfi style’. A wine with vibrant color, good complexity with a nose of ripe berry fruit, integrated with hints of spiciness, rich with smooth tannins and a long finish. This is a carefully-crafted Brunello, perfected by Horizon, which will further improve with bottle ageing and will be a source of great satisfaction to its fortunate owners over a long period of time.

The Estate:

Founded in 1978 by brothers John and Harry Mariani of Banfi Vintners, America’s leading fine wine importer, the estate extends over 2830 ha, of which 850 ha are vineyards in the prestigious Brunello di Montalcino DOCG region of southern Tuscany. The last vineyards to be added to were those of Poggio alle Mura in 1984, which came with the eponymous 13th century castle, now lovingly restored as a hospitality center.

Sangiovese and its terroir have always been the guiding inspiration of Castello Banfi, while proprietary cuvees including international grape varietals also demonstrate the estate’s proclivity for winemaking.

Seriousness, professionalism and respect for the consumer have always been the hallmark of Banfi. In 2001, the winery adopted ISO 9001-14001 which relates customer satisfaction and respect for the environment. In 2006, Castello Banfi was the first winery in the world to adopt SA8000, the international standard for workers’ rights, ensuring its respect for ethical production and service.

Horizon was adopted in the same spirit, starting with the 2007 vintage. The project was entirely conceived by the winemaking team at Castello Banfi and its lynchpins are the 24 hybrid wood and stainless steel fermenters which take advantage of the benefits of both materials during fermentation.

Banfi is also a firm believer in hospitality. Castello Banfi – La Taverna offers a chance to taste traditional local dishes together with Castello Banfi estate wines, while Castello Banfi – Il Borgo offers 14 luxurious guest rooms, 5 of which are suites, for wine country travelers.

Fore more information visit: castellobanfi.com

Castello Banfi looks to Horizon
: an eagerly awaited vintage combined with innovative winemaking

Castello Banfi’s top Brunello di Montalcino cru wine Poggio alle Mura 2007 is a rich traditional Brunello, in typical southern Montalcino style, coming from a stellar vintage and benefiting from the balanced approach and quality of Banfi’s Horizon Micro-Winery.

Written by Decanter.com

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