Ferruccio took his grandfather’s clone of the Sangiovese grape, known as Sangiovese Grosso and identified as BBS11, to produce the inaugural Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino. At this time, the prized wine of Montalcino was not a red but rather, a sweet white, Moscadello di Montalcino, derived from the Muscat grape. Ferruccio’s pioneering spirit that embraced experimentation with clones, low yields, long maceration periods, long aging in wood, and cellar aging changed the history of Brunello.
With each generation at Biondi-Santi, Ferruccio’s vision advances a step further. His son, Tancredi, assumed control of the estate in 1922, effectually becoming the ambassador for Montalcino’s wines. More importantly, he possessed the insight to stock vintage wines—including the legendary 1888 and 1891—under lock and key. In 1927, he instituted the custom of topping off old bottles with wine from the same vintage and then recorking them, thus ensuring the integrity and age-worthiness of the wine. Indeed, Tancredi wrote the standards for the DOC that eventually formed the law regulating Brunello production.
Under Tancredi’s guidance, the wines of Biondi-Santi achieved legendary status. Tancredi’s 1970 recorking ceremony attracted worldwide attention, as his 82-year-old wine evidenced unprecedented youth and splendor. Tancredi turned the estate over to his son, Franco, who further solidified Il Greppo’s place in history. Until his passing in April 2013 at the age of 91, Franco Biondi-Santi, known as both “Il Dottore” and the “Gentleman of Montalcino,” ran the estate, producing nearly 70,000 bottles a year of classic, traditional, collectable wines. Biondi-Santi’s lean, aromatic and thoroughly remarkable Brunellos are best known for their incredible ability to age. Even 100-year-old Brunello from Biondi-Santi shows remarkably well.
Biondi Santi releases both an Annata, or normale bottling, and a Riserva bottling, making both only in good vintages and the latter only in great. While the Annata derives from vines between the ages of ten and 15 years, the Riserva derives from older vines between 25 and 80 years of age. sourced primarily from the iconic, historic Greppo plot. Grapes for both wines are sourced primarily from the Greppo plot, which consists of stony galestro soil intermixed with tufaceous clay. Biondi-Santi’s trademark aromatics and acidity, however, is attributable to the vineyard’s altitude that ranges between 1,300-1,600 feet above sea level. Both the Annata and the Riserva undergo fermentation in traditional Slavonian oak for 18 days, followed by aging in large oak casks of 800 to 7,000 liters for a period of two to three years, and the Riserva is released six years after the harvest.
The late great Franco Biondi Santi always said he wanted to make wines that were never old enough to drink, and the 1982 Riserva we offer today illustrates how long-aging, cellar-worthy and infinitely beautiful his wines were. To enjoy a Biondi-Santi Brunello as Franco would, slowly aerate it before drinking: uncork the wine, pour out about an ounce or two to increase the air-to-wine ratio in the bottle, and let the wine breathe slowly for approximately eight hours. Then, take your time to enjoy each and every sip.