Andrea Cortonesi is undeniably one of the best producers in Montalcino. He is the owner of the famous Uccelliera estate and now collaborates with a small estate in the northern area of Montalcino called Voliero. We are more than ecstatic to be able to offer these wines now on the east coast.
Andrea was born the only son of a farmer and grew up closely assisting his father in the vineyards as a teenager in Montalcino. When he set out to purchase his own vineyard land to passionately produce Brunello here, he bought a tiny amount of older vines in the Southern part of Montalcino, rich in sand and rock that yield muscular and powerful Brunello. These vineyards were part of the Ciacci estate which can trace their winemaking lineage in this area as far back as the 17th century. That was the birth of some amazing Brunello and the beginning of Uccelliera.
Andrea's new project, Casato 1, has been a huge success. Casato 1 means "family first" and it is a focus on an elegant, softer or rounder style of Sangiovese grown in the northern part of the zone. His Trattoria is where he initially decided to sell these wines, but now they are hard to find even there in Siena. Here the soil is comprised of calcaresous clay and the climate is warmer and drier. This yields Brunello and Rosso that is complex, softer with rounder fruit, less noticeable tannins and really energizing. What you will find in these wines immediately is the same level of class you find in his Uccelliera Brunello, but to be honest there is more. There is added freshness or vibrancy with that quintessential, silken Sangiovese structure. We can only assume Andrea wanted these elegant wines to be more like the older style of Brunello long before modernization and critics may have influenced a different style of winemaking here.
Brunello di Montalcino, meaning little brown one is one of the most intense, ageable and complex wines in the world. It is also called Sangioveto, Prugnolo Gentile and Morellino. According to D.O.C.G rules, a Brunello di Montalcino is always and only 100% Sangiovese. It must spend a minimum of 2 years in an oak barrel and 4 months (6 months for Riservas) in a bottle before release. Most producers extend barrel and bottle time. It is available for purchase 5 years after harvest (6 years for Riservas).
Rosso di Montalcino, or "Baby Brunello" is made from 100% Sangiovese grown in this same region. The wine is only required to spend six months aging in oak and only 1 year total aging before release. Why, one might ask? This allows producers to release an earlier version of Brunello that can create cash flow while their Brunello di Montalcino ages. Rosso di Montalcino is typically lighter, fresher and more approachable upon release. These Rosso di Montalcino bottlings are often overlooked and misread. To be honest, we prefer it that way as it keeps us in good supply. These "Baby Brunellos" are half the price of an aged Brunello and exhibit tremendous Brunello character.
Italy obviously makes a lot of wine. It does lead the world in wine production. The average annual output of Brunello di Montalcino is tiny with only about 6-6.5 million bottles produced annually. This is not a lot when you think about the neighboring region of Chianti Classico and what that areas average annual output is. It is closer to 40 million bottles. The scarcity of Brunello makes it particularly special.
Andrea Cortonesi's vigor, Montalcino's ancestry and the enticing qualities of Sangiovese are things that you do not want to miss experiencing. Bevi!