Brunello di Montalcino
About the Producer: 
When Altesino general manager Claudio Basla directed Altesino’s inaugural vintage of 1975, he didn’t know much about wine. Montalcino wasn’t too savvy, either: in its impoverished state, the sweet Moscadello wine virtually constituted the extent of its viticultural prowess. Both Altesino and Montalcino, however, were on the verge of significant transformation…. With the help of consulting enologist Pietro Rivella, Basla—whose boss, Giulio Consonno, had founded Altesino in 1972— began honing the skills that he would utilize to craft profound expressions of Brunello di Montalcino. Montalcino itself was assisted by major outside investments, enabling the commune to move into the upper echelon of both Italy and the world’s winemaking regions. Altesino guided this period of awakening, crafting Brunellos that proffered a genuine expression of Sangiovese, yet modified the austerity typifying the wines at the time. That said, however, Altesino’s protocol is rooted fundamentally in a traditionalist orientation, captured most demonstratively in its preference for Slavonian oak—the sole medium utilized in the vinification of the estate’s Brunello normale and riserva bottlings. In fact, when current Altesino owner Elisabetta Gnudi Angelini acquired the estate in 2002, she was committed to maintaining its identity as a traditional producer, restricting her changes to the replanting of the vineyards and establishment of a new cellar. The latter features the estate’s first stainless steel tanks, which made their debut in the 2007 vintage. Prior to this time, Altesino conducted fermentation in fiberglass, a medium that required Basla to rigorously finesse an approximate constant temperature through grueling physical machinations. (Angelini also owns the Caparzo estate and properties in both Maremma and Chianti Classico.) Thus, she has left Montosoli and Basla pretty much to their own well-honed and astute devices. (Rivella continues to assist Basla, along with Paolo Caciorgna.) The former is Altesino’s flagship, the bottling that effectually introduced Montalcino to the cru concept. Situated slightly north of Montalcino, this esteemed site enjoys a substantive degree of sunlight during the daytime, a provision that is complemented by nightfall’s cooler disposition. This feature operates in cooperation with microclimate and soil to produce the particular synergy that defines Montosoli. While all are integral components of the overall impact, none assumes a discernible lead in the opinion of Basla—their effort is truly cooperative and all of a piece—a case that seems made for that ever elusive word—terroir. While Angelini instituted significant replanting of the land Altesino possesses in three other sites—with a view to ensuring that the best clonal material was being utilized—the Sangiovese clone inhabiting Montosoli remains the same. This clone possesses a truly insular nature, demonstrating an exclusive affinity with Montosoli and failing to distinguish itself outside the cru’s parameters. Barrique makes a modest appearance in Montosoli’s aging regimen, although Altesino, as indicated above, is essentially wedded to Slavonian oak. That said, barrique makes a pretty substantive contribution to Altesino’s Super-Tuscan roster, which includes Alte d’Altesi, a Sangiovese/Cabernet blend; Borgo, a monovarietal Cabernet; Rosso di Altesino, a Sangiovese-based blend; and Palazzo Altesi, a limited-production Sangiovese that is named for the estate’s 15th-century villa, the estate’s signature edifice.