Brunello di Montalcino: baby it’s back…

Over the last few months I have had some magnificent bottles of Brunello that have left me gobsmacked. Fuligni http://www.fuligni.it/eng/azienda_en.html has featured strongly in this with a bottle of the 1990 up there with one of the best bottles I have drunk from 2011. The bottle of 1990 was shared with friends at one of our favorite restaurants. It was paired with some other great wines (like 1989 Viette Castiglione Barolo) and it was by far, head and shoulders above all other wines on the night.

This week I have had a bottle of the 2004 Fuligni and it again left me in awe of it’s quality. Sometimes you just need to be reminded by great bottles, just how GREAT some varieties are. I have always loved to buy and drink Brunello. However, I no longer import into Australia as I have found that most of the Brunello producers I have spoken with treat it as a business first, and then as a labor of love second. I prefer the other way round. I am heading to Montalcino for a couple of days shortly and I can’t wait. Will I find some other outstanding producers? Or will they all pale into comparison?

At the moment the likes of Fuligni already imported into Australia (and with a fantastic importer who has championed Brunello for many many years), it seems pointless to import and promote a winery when you know they are just second best. If you see bottles of 2001, 2004 and 2006 Fuligni Brunello buy them. They will be treasures (like the 1990) in years to come. The 2006 Brunello Riserva has yet to be released, but big things are expected. When it is released in Australia, hold onto your horses as we will all be in for a great ride…

A more detailed look at Fuligni:

http://www.fuligni.it/eng/azienda_en.html

HISTORY

The Fuligni Viscounts, a long-standing Venetian family, moved to England in the 14th century at the head of a troop of mercenaries at the service of Edward III. With the succession of the Absburg- Lorraine to the Grand Duchy, Luigi Fuligni was transferred to Tuscany as general of the new sovereignty and, around 1770, received an extensive concession of land in the Maremma from the Grand Duke, Pietro Leopoldo. Fuligni’s task was to see to the reclamation of the land as was the wish of the enlightened monarch. Giovanni Maria Fuligni settled in Montalcino at the beginning of 1900 and started to produce wine just as his family had previously done predominantly in the area around Scansano in the Maremma. The Fuligni Estate in Montalcino, directed by Maria Flora Fuligni consists of approximately 100 hectares of land at varying exposures to the sun. The vines, which extend over about ten hectares, are situated on the eastern part of the hill, a traditional area for Brunello. The cellars are located at Cottimelli (about three kilometers from Montalcino in the direction of Siena) in an original 18th century residence once the home of Medicean Grand Dukes. Wine tastings are also held on the premises in recently restored rooms which used to accommodate a small monastery of monks in the 16th century.

ESTATE

The Fuligni Estate spreads over approximately one hundred fully-cultivated hectares of land in an almost continual strip on the eastern side of Montalcino where, historically, the most authentic production of Brunello emerged. The vines, which extend over ten hectares, are primarily located at Cottimelli at altitudes varying from 380 to 450 meters above sea level. Here, the land, which predominantly faces east, belongs entirely to the Santa Fiora (marl) geological formation of Eocene origin and is made up of a prevalently rocky terrain.

VINEYARDS

The vines, which extend over ten hectares, are primarily located at Cottimelli at altitudes varying from 380 to 450 meters above sea level. Here, the land, which predominantly faces east, belongs entirely to the Santa Fiora (marl) geological formation of Eocene origin and is made up of a prevalently rocky terrain. New vines have been planted facing southeast on land which is a mix of “tufo” and clay. The average age of the vines is about twelve years while some others date back over thirty years preserving the old Sangiovese clones of the estate with a lesser density per hectare. The cultivation system is the classic two-strand trellis with a limited load of buds per plant and with a density which varies from 3.333 to 5.000 main stems per hectare. A thorough pruning is done which involves the important process of thinning out the grapes to ensure a yield per hectare ranging, on average, from 50 to 55 hundred kilos of grapes. The harvest is done manually and includes the personal participation of the owners with frequently repeated walks between the rows of vines to guarantee a rigorous selection of grapes. The various Fuligni vineyards, S. Giovanni, Il Piano, Ginestreto and La Bandita are harvested separately according to their type of land and exposure, and are subsequently brought together keeping in mind the type of wine they are destined to become (Brunello, Brunello Reserve, Rosso DOC).

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