David's visit to Tenuta Greppo Biondi Santi

On a recent trip to Italy, our Wine Buyer David Grant visited a dozen of our incredible producers. We'll be highlighting each over the next couple of months. This week, David recaps his very VIP tour of Tenuta Greppo of Biondi-Santi fame.

It’s rare that a wine can trace its origins to a single person, but Brunello di Montalcino largely owes its existence to the creative genius of Clemente Santi and his nephew Ferruccio Biondi Santi who in the 1800s started producing barrel-aged Sangiovese grosso in Montalcino. 

Since 1888, the very first vintage of Brunello, Biondi-Santi has continued to produce wines renowned for their elegance and extraordinary longevity.

I knew it was a big deal to visit Tenuta Greppo, but it wasn’t until I was having a drink at La Fortezza the afternoon before that I learned that something like 40 people are invited to tour the estate each year! I was already honoured, but wow! Now I was a bit intimidated!

The winemaking of Biondi-Santi

The entrance to Biondi-Santi is through a pair of beautiful, imposing gates with the estate’s crest – and then down a long, winding Tuscan driveway lined with cyprus.

The winemaking process at Biondi Santi is a testament to tradition and meticulous craftsmanship. The estate adheres to strict vineyard practices, ensuring that only the finest grapes are used. The harvest is manual, allowing for careful selection of the best clusters. Fermentation occurs in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks, maintaining the purity and integrity of the Sangiovese grape. This method preserves the delicate aromatics and ensures a clean fermentation process.

After fermentation, the wine is aged in large Slavonian oak casks, a distinctive practice of Biondi-Santi. These casks, ranging in size from 10 to 52 hectoliters, allow for a slow and controlled maturation process, imparting subtle oak influences without overwhelming the wine's natural characteristics. This ageing process can last from three to five years, depending on the vintage and the specific wine being produced. The use of large casks helps to retain the wine's acidity and freshness, contributing to its remarkable longevity.

Biondi Santi's commitment to quality means that their wines are often released only in exceptional vintages. Their Brunello Riserva, produced from the estate's oldest vines and only in the best years, is particularly esteemed. Known for its elegance, structure, and ageing potential, the Brunello Riserva can evolve gracefully over decades, showcasing the complexity and depth characteristic of Biondi Santi wines.

The estate's adherence to tradition, combined with its unwavering focus on quality, ensures that Biondi Santi remains a benchmark for Brunello di Montalcino, influencing winemaking practices and standards in the region and beyond.

The vineyards of Biondi-Santi

Spread across the rolling hills of the picturesque Tuscan landscape, the vineyards benefit from an ideal microclimate characterised by warm days and cool nights. This diurnal temperature variation is crucial for developing the Sangiovese grosso grape's complex flavours and balanced acidity.

The Biondi Santi vineyards are meticulously maintained, with a strong emphasis on sustainable and traditional viticultural practices. The estate covers approximately 47 hectares, with a significant portion dedicated to Brunello di Montalcino production. These vines, particularly those designated for the esteemed Brunello Riserva, are planted at higher altitudes, between 300 and 500 metres above sea level. This elevation contributes to the grapes' slow ripening process, enhancing their aromatic intensity and structural complexity.

The estate practises green harvesting and careful pruning to control yields and enhance grape quality. The soil composition, primarily galestro, a mix of clay and limestone, provides excellent drainage and contributes to the unique minerality found in Biondi Santi wines.

The wines of Biondi-Santi

2011 Brunello di Montalcino ($425)

The Biondi-Santi flagship wine, the Brunello di Montalcino embodies the spirit of Tenuta Greppo and the signature style of their winemakers, forged over 150 years of history with its balanced combination of fresh elegance, depth and aristocratic personality.

This is a wine of remarkable elegance and complexity. On the nose, it reveals aromas of red cherries, dried roses, and hints of tobacco, interwoven with subtle notes of earth and spice. The palate is beautifully balanced, offering flavours of ripe red berries, leather, and a touch of balsamic, supported by firm tannins and vibrant acidity. The finish is long and nuanced, with lingering traces of minerality and refined oak. This wine showcases the distinctive character and ageing potential that Biondi Santi is renowned for. We have two bottles of this extraordinary wine in stock at time of writing.

Read the full series of David’s trip to Tuscany here:

We will have some more updates soon to introduce a few of our brand new producers – stay tuned!

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