Spotlight on Castello Banfi
“The Brunello di Montalcino is ruby red in colour with notes of cherry and chocolate.”
Why it’s worth knowing about: At 2,580 hectares it is the largest contiguous estate in Europe, but don’t let its size put you off. Since the 1970s, Castello Banfi, led by the Mariani family, has done a lot of research into finding out more about the Sangiovese grape variety and improving the quality of Brunello di Montalcino, to the benefit of the entire region. The Italian-American Mariani family founded wine merchant Banfi Vintners in America in the early 20th century; it was only in the 1970s that the Castello Banfi estate finally came together. This history and global perspective means over the past 20 years they have been able to bring Brunello di Montalcino to a global stage.
And the wines? All Banfi’s wines fall under the category of premium and the vast majority are sold in restaurants like Cantina del Ponte. A limited number are sold through Majestic and Harrods. At entry level you’re looking to pay around £20 for an unoaked white, going up to £120 for a Brunello reserva. The Brunello di Montalcino is aged for five years in oak barrels and is ruby red in colour with notes of cherry and chocolate as well as a long finish. Other Castello Banfi wines include its youthful Le Rime, which is a blend of unoaked chardonnay and pinot grigio, or Centine Rose, a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Top tip: Try the San Angelo pinot grigio. This is an unusual wine; normally pinot grigio is grown in the cooler north of Italy, but something about the Montalcino climate makes it work in Tuscany. San Angelo has more weight and riper fruit than your typical pinot grigio, but is still dry with a clean finish.
One to watch: Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG. This sparkling, off dry, dark rosé wine is very popular in America. Produced by Banfi on its cooler northern estate in Piedmont, the Brachetto d’Acqui is only 5.5% abv, so with a trend here in the UK for lower alcohol wines, it’s definitely one to look out for.
Find out more about the Cantina del Ponte wine list.
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