Let me tell you about my first experience with Brunello di Montalcino.
It was some years ago and I was writing about an international wine competition. The important part for me was that a couple of California wines had scored big. Local angle, check.
But I couldn’t help noticing as I scanned the list that Brunello di Montalcino came up a lot, too. Really an impressive showing in the top 10.
So, when I interviewed one of the contest officials, I had to ask: “Who is this Brunello guy? He really seems to be raking in the prizes.” (I didn’t share, but I had a whole vision in my head of Mr. B. Stocky, muscular, dark brown hair just beginning to go gray and a rich, riotously curly beard.)
There was pause. A sigh. And then the official said gently, “Brunello di Montalcino is a type of wine. “
“Ah,” I said, ever one with the quick comeback.
I am sure you would never drop such a clanger, but just in case you need a refresher, Brunello di Montalcino is a red wine produced from grapes grown in vineyards near the town of Montalcino in Tuscany. Brunello means brownish (roughly) in Tuscan dialect and the wine is made from a clone of the sangiovese grape. Not a lot gets made and this is one of those wines prized by collectors; 2004 was a good vintage.
Adding a bit of drama, the region was the source of scandal a few years ago when Italian authorities investigated whether some producers were using grapes other than sangiovese, strictly forbidden under the many regulations governing how brunello is made.
So, that’s your brunello primer for today.
Now, I’m off to find out more about my new wine friend, that Australian minx Margaret River.