Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino Pianrosso 2008
Ciacci Piccolomini is one of the most sought-after producers in all of Italy. This ancient estate has 35 hectares of superior holdings in the prized Castelnuovo dell’Abate zone, including the ‘Pianrosso’ vineyard (meaning ‘red field,’ a reference to the iron rich soils) and the ‘Fonte’ vineyard, which produces grapes for the Rosso di Montalcino.
Plantings of Syrah, Cabernet, and Merlot are to the south, where the Orcia river provides a milder microclimate. The non-traditional wines are as exciting as the Brunello and Rosso: ‘Ateo,’ which means ‘atheist,’ is a statement against the restrictive laws that govern winemaking in Italy; the wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. 100% Syrah ‘Fabius’ is one of the greatest expressions of that variety in Italy and Parker once called it “the finest Italian Syrah I have tasted.” The estate is a member of the EU ‘Lotta Integrata’ movement, which promotes reduced use of chemicals and organic viticulture; at Ciacci, fertilization is organic, and pruning and harvest are done by hand.
Famous for its bold, layered and long-lived red, Brunello di Montalcino, the town of Montalcino is about 70 miles south of Florence, and has a warmer and drier climate than that of its neighbor, Chianti. The Sangiovese grape is king here, as it is in Chianti, but Montalcino has its own clone called Brunello.
The Brunello vineyards of Montalcino blanket the rolling hills surrounding the village and fan out at various elevations, creating the potential for Brunello wines expressing different styles. From the valleys, where deeper deposits of clay are found, come wines typically bolder, more concentrated and rich in opulent black fruit. The hillside vineyards produce wines more concentrated in red fruits and floral aromas; these sites reach up to over 1,600 feet and have shallow soils of rocks and shale.
Brunello di Montalcino by law must be aged a minimum of four years, including two years in barrel before realease and once released, typically needs more time in bottle for its drinking potential to be fully reached. The good news is that Montalcino makes a “baby brother” version. The wines called Rosso di Montalcino are often made from younger vines, aged for about a year before release, offer extraordinary values and are ready to drink young.