The Brunello of Montalcino and the Road of the Montecucco wines

The wine remains in barrels slowly developing its unique aromas. In a region famous for its truly great wines, all around us there are scenes of an incredibly beautiful countryside complete with rich medieval villages and quaint little streets made of stone. And so, in a quest to discover more about these exquisite wines, let’s take the fascinating journey towards Montalcino, the village where the famous Brunello wine comes from, and proceed along the curious trail of the Road of the Montecucco Wines.

The Road of the Montecucco Wines is a trail which snakes between the provinces of Grosseto and Siena, between the Orcia and Ombrone valleys, and is set in the sweet panorama of the hills of the Tuscan Maremma. The road is surrounded by vast expanses of vines and neatly kept vineyards with equally spaced rows of plants and each with a sign in clear sight, indicating its family ownership. Along with the vineyards, the road is also the location of many olive tree groves. Furthermore, surrounding these cultivated areas and on the edges of the road explosions of plush green vegetation and bright yellow and maroon flowers appear before our eyes during the spring and summer months.

If we look towards the hills, we will notice the quaint residential areas which mount the peaks of these hills. Each of these small residential areas is made entirely of either brick or stone with branches tiny roads lined with cypresses. It is here, in the midst of these enchanting little neighbourhoods, located just a few kilometres from scenes of breathtaking countryside, that we have the feeling of being in the middle of a fairytale.

And so we have reached the zone in question: the producer of a range of intense red and fruity white wines. Among these we have the Montecucco Rosso, the Montecucco Sangiovese and the Montecucco Riserva, all of which have a ruby-like tone and are usually drank as a compliment to red meats, wild boar and the pecorini (a type of sheep’s milk cheese) which are local to the area. When drank at an earlier stage of its maturity, these red wines are considered to be the perfect accompaniment to the IGP* maroons of the Amiata as they help the diner to fully appreciate the taste of the delicious dish. The best white wines of the area include the Montecucco Bianco and the Montecucco Vermentino which are both the perfect compliment to light dishes such as appetizers, soups and fish dishes.

The Orcia River is the dividing border between the provinces of Grosseto and Siena and thus separating the zones which produce two of Tuscany most famous wines: that of the Montecucco wine and that of the Brunello wine.

The Brunello di Montalcino is a wine which has been an increasing success for 70 years during which time it has become known as one of Italy’s most famous and refined wines. It is a sharp, clear red wine which is very aromatic with its highly strong fragrance (as a result it is advised that the Brunello di Montalcino is should be drank in a large, wide wine glass, so that its aroma can be fully released and enjoyed). It is usually drank as a compliment to dishes consisting of matured cheeses, venison and red meats, usually accompanied by sauces, mushrooms and truffles.

The unique taste of the Brunello is one which even fascinates experts. This is down to the fact that its already diverse characteristics can change not only according to the time of year but also according to the farm on which it was produced. It is a wine which must remain in its (unopened) bottle for at least 4 months before drinking as its flavour is one which only improves with age.

The best way to buy Brunello is simply to wander around the streets of Montalcino. This is because, by wandering from one wine cellar to the next, you will be able to fully appreciate ancient charm of the home town of this extraordinary wine.

Montalcino is a Medieval village which rises up in the hills, between the valleys of the River Ombrone and the River Asso. The more elevated part of the village is full of fortifications, including the 14th century Fortress which is at the heart of a circular construction of ancient walls. The villages many fortifications are all very old and large in size because Montalcino is purposely situated in its strategic position enclosed within a huge perimeter of walls which permit, especially during the bright, sunny days of the summer, a complete view of the surrounding area. This amazing panoramic view of the valley is significant even today, however from a touristic point of view rather than that of defence.

The oldest settlements of this region are all of Etruscan origin. However, the historic buildings which line the streets of the villages are all from 14th century. Other than the fortress, there is also the 14th century town hall and the churches of Sant’ Agostino and Sant’Egidio. In addition to such monuments, the many wine workshops of the area also merit a visit. But everything aside, this quaint area of Tuscany is worth a visit if only to witness the love the local people have, not only for their village, but also for its wine. Such affection would have us believe that with every bottle of wine that is opened comes a truly fascinating and curious tale.

* IGP: A label/sign issued by the official IGP body (which governs protects and governs the quality of locally produced food and beverage products) which indicates high quality.

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