Brunello di Montalcino

Brunello di Montalcino: The History and Tradition Behind the Tuscan Wine

Considered one of the most prestigious Italian wines worldwide, Brunello di Montalcino is a wine with a global reputation. Its popularity has been on the rise, with 9.4 million bottles sold worldwide in 2022, reflecting a 7% increase from the previous year. In addition, the wine’s value has also increased by 18%.

Brunello di Montalcino: History and Tradition

The origins of Brunello di Montalcino can be traced back to Clemente Santi, a chemist and pharmacist who started experimenting with Sangiovese Grosso vines in 1820. The first bottle bearing the name “Brunello” was showcased at an exhibition in Siena between 1863 and 1865. Although it took some time for the wine to gain popularity globally, it has been a continuous success since then.

Brunello’s worldwide expansion began in earnest in the 1950s, aided by the European Economic Community (EEC), which financially contributed to vine planting in the Montalcino area. Significant milestones in the wine’s history include 1966 when it obtained the “DOC-IGP” mark and 1980 when it obtained the DOCG tag, indicating the wine’s geographical origin, which is an important recognition of the product (here are the differences).

With over 250 wineries producing it, the town of Montalcino has now achieved global recognition as a wine-making region. The production area for Brunello di Montalcino spans the entire municipality, covering roughly 24,000 hectares, and is bordered by the Ombrone, Asso, and Orcia rivers. The wineries yield more than 6.5 million bottles per year, reflecting the wine’s continued popularity.

What is special about Brunello wine?

Brunello di Montalcino is known for its brilliant ruby red color, derived from the Sangiovese grape variety, known as “Brunello.” After a five-year aging process, which includes a minimum of two years in a wooden barrel and four months of bottle aging, the wine is ready for sale. The wine must have a minimum alcohol content of 12° (12.5° if specified by the vineyard) and a minimum total acidity of 5 g/liter. It is best served in crystal red wine glasses at a temperature of around 18°C (64°F). (Source: Consorzio Brunello Montalcino).

Notable public figures are known to be fans of Brunello di Montalcino, including NBA star LeBron James, the league’s all-time leading scorer. James once posted an Instagram Story featuring a bottle of the 2010 vintage Brunello Riserva, which he described as “perfection.” In September 2021, James visited the Monteverro winery in the Maremma area of Tuscany to sample the winery’s offerings.

Is Brunello expensive?

The price of Brunello di Montalcino, one of Italy’s most expensive wines, varies depending on the producer. Smaller wineries may sell bottles of Brunello di Montalcino DOGC for €30 to €40, while more well-known estates may charge double that amount. Old vintages and rare wines, such as certain collectible vintages of Brunello Biondi Santi, can cost up to €500 per bottle. To compare prices, sites like can be helpful. It is worth noting that Biondi Santi is the family that pioneered the first vineyard in Montalcino.

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Cover Photo: Mike Benna / Unsplash