Biondi Santi in Maremma

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I tasted my first Biondi Santi Brunello di Mont lcino in 1979. It was from their renowned Il Greppo estate in Tuscany. The Biondi Santi family is generally recognized as the first producer of Brunello, after isolating the sangiovese clone in the late 1800's. Ironically, I tasted this wine in a small enoteca in the neighboring region of Umbria. I can still remember descending the three flights of stairs down into the cellar to retrieve the wine. Brunello makes memories like these!

Over the course of the past 30 years, things have changed at Biondi-Santi. Today, you will see the name of the winery has been slightly changed. It is referred to as Franco Biondi Santi. The name change reflects a split in the family.

Jacopo Biondi Santi is now headquartered outside the Montalcino zone in the lower Maremma countryside. He is making Super Tuscan wines at his estate called Castello di Montepo. The move to Maremma was a result of ideological differences with the rest of the family. Jacopo's importer states that his goal is to break away from the oenological family tradition, and produce wines more in keeping with market demands. He has done climatization studies to determine what grapes and rootstocks grow best on what locations on the property.

I recently tasted one of these new wines. It is called Sassoalloro. It's an IGT wine, named after a legend-ladened gigantic volcanic rock located in the area. This wine is comprised of 100% sangiovese grapes. It is aged in French oak barrels for 14 months. It's beautifully made, with an intense ruby color, and soft velvety tannins. I tasted the 2004 vintage. I understand the 2005 vintage will probably be available by the time you read this. I believe this wine is a very good buy at less than $30.

Jacopo Biondi Santi also produces two other wines: a 100% cabernet sauvignon called Montepaone, and a sangiovese-cabernet-merlot blend called Schidione.

The Biondi Santi name is still associated with good wine making - whether it be in Montalcino or the Maremma.

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