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This small 5 hestare estate makes some of the finest and most traditional wines of Brunello. The wines are unknown in the US and apparently only available at Chambers Street - for a great producer making honest, soulful wines with a view to quality and tradition look no further.
Founded by Ruggero Biliorsi in 1981, and now run by his sons Simone and Mauro, the family makes organic Montalcino wines with no modern embellishments – that is, aging in large, traditional botti, 20 to 30 day macerations, and only two products used in the vineyard: copper and sulfur. The vines hail from two plots, one at high elevation by the winery and one situated in Montalcino’s southern district of Castelnuovo dell’ Abate which adds concentration and structure to the wines. A strict limiting of yields to 40 hectoliters per hectare (the law allows up to 70) also improves the wines’ complexity and richness. These wines shine in a region that is far too often over-cropped or slathered in small barrels for artificial richness, or (in a worst case scenario) both.
The estate is committed to protecting nature and respecting the terroir, obtaining organic certifictation in 2004.
"The wine is produced from 100% Sangiovese grapes, vinified in stainless steel vats at controlled temperatures. It then undergoes the customary long maceration period, after which the wine is aged for at least 24 months in large Slavonia oak barrels. It is subsequently bottled and aged in the bottles for another two years, to reach the 4-year ageing period. The wine is released on the market in the 5th year after the harvest. Fornacina Winery’s Brunello di Montalcino has great personality with a diverse and fascinating profile. It is perfect paired with red meats, grilled or braised, and it is excellent with aged cheeses." (Fornacina website)
Visiting Fornacina is always a treat; the tranquil character of the place is reinforced by the calm demeanor of brothers Simone and Mauro and reflected in the wines - vini da meditazione, as they say. It's a reminder of how special Montalcino wines can be, and how they don't require flashy surroundings to shine.
And while we're in Tuscany, a reminder...
Lecci e Brocchi, Castelnuovo Berardenga
Soil, of course, is where a wine gets its start, and this red galestro soil certainly sets the wines of Lecci e Brocchi apart from their peers. Castelnuovo Berardenga is known for powerful wines, born of relatively heavy clay soils and the warmer climate that the south facing slopes of this part of Chianti Classico enjoy. By contrast, these red soils (at a moderately high elevation for the appellation of 400-420 meters) give wines of remarkable minerality and transparency. Red-fruited, bright and zesty, the wines of Lecci e Brocchi are an intense expression of the marriage of terroir and the remarkably mutable Sangiovese grape.
This expression, born in the vineyard, is ably put into bottle by a family that believes in tradition as well as progress. The family prefers a blended wine, old-style (even as many producers turn towards pure Sangiovese), finding it softer than the often aggressive nature of Sangiovese in purezza, and have chosen to use only the traditional, local varieties such as Malvasia and Canaiolo. Across the board one finds a unique perfume in the wines of Lecci e Brocchi. Intensely floral, and then richly mineral and with fresh if obviously ripe fruits. Wines like Lecci e Brocchi bring a new spirit to Chianti with exemplary expressions of terroir. They are thoughtfully made wines that speak loudly of the unfulfilled potential of the region, and anyone interested in Chianti Classico should be trying them. (Thanks to Gregory Dal Piaz)
Making some of our favorite Brunello wines, Simone and Mauro Biliorsi farm six hectares of vines just outside of the historic town of Montalcino. The vineyards were converted to organic farming in 2004, and the conscientious work in the vines is mirrored in the traditional winemaking: fermentation using only indigenous yeasts, and the wine is raised in large Slovenian oak barrels with a volume between 20 and 35 hectoliters. The 2020 Rosso is just a beautiful wine showing a bright red/garnet color and elegant aromas of tart cherry, raspberry, violet and forest floor, subtle and pure. The palate has a lovely texture from the schistous clay soils with black cherry and berry fruits with bright acidity, spice and mineral flavors. The finish is very long, pure and refreshing with sappy bitter cherry lingering on the palate. Serve cool with braised meats, grilled chicken, mushroom risotto, open a few hours in advance if possible or cellar 3 - 5 years. Lovely wine! David Lillie
I've tried to resist the temptation of a potential cliché, but: this made me think of Burgundy, because this is a really elegant Brunello with no sign of heat, beautiful balance – it’s intense, but not at all too rich, with good lift, and a clear sense of place. I’ve tasted Fornacina for about 10 years now, and terroir emerges in the wine; the relatively high altitude (400+ meters), and the high PH of the galestro soil, must play a role in how fresh the wine is. The wine is very fragrant with “frutti di bosco”, or forest fruits (wild strawberry, blackberry, etc), clay and “sotto bosco”, or forest floor – leafy and earthy. After 4+ hours open, it’s showing even better: a very refined wine, aromatic, dynamic, and delicious
Ragonaia is a single-vineyard, 100% Sangiovese Chianti Classico, aged in used French barriques and tonneau; the wood aging brings some richness of texture and an elegance to the wine. Also very savory and mineral, it’s quite full-bodied, with pronounced red fruit on the long finish. Perhaps the most contemporary / least rustic in style of the Lecci wines, it’s still a treat for anyone partial to Sangiovese. Jamie Wolff
The Chianti Classico Riserva is graced with the image of il Chiorba (the baldy) – the founder of the Lecci e Brocchi farm. The wine ages for two years in botte (large older wood barrels). It’s very aromatic, with herbs and stone over a core of dark fruit. Structured and showing some ripe tannins, it’s full-bodied by still graceful and vibrant, with a long and juicy finish. An impressieve Riserva, this will continue to develop for years to come. Jamie Wolff
The Chianti Classico 2019 (Sangiovese + 10% Canaiolo and Colorino) was aged in cement tanks (nothing fancy, they date to the 1960s), and it’s a very pure and transparent wine, more on the savory and mineral side. After a little time in the glass the aromatics really develop; the wine is fairly rich and full-bodied, lifted by brambly bright fruit. It’s a great value, and IMHO this could serve as a textbook example of fine young Chianti Classico. Jamie Wolff