I recently had the following interaction over the phone with a customer:
Customer: “Hello, do you sell red wine?”
Me: “Yes sir, we do.”
Customer: “What kinds?”
Me: “…Well, I’ve got just about everything.”
Customer: “How much?”
Me: “How many bottles?”
Customer: “Price, how much?”
Me: “From about $3 to $2,000.”
Customer: “How much?”
Me: “Around $3 to $2,000.”
Customer: “Is this Spec’s?”
Me: “Yes sir, it is.”
Customer: “Ok, thanks.”
My job can be very interesting. Sometimes it entails spending a few minutes on the phone explaining to customers that, yes, we do in fact sell wine. And then other times it means leaving work in the middle of the day to go taste and learn the history of some of the products we sell.
Last week, I attended a seminar Banfi hosted at the Four Seasons. The event was designed to showcase the three different Sangiovese clones Banfi grows in its Montalcino vineyards, as well as the variations in terroir of its four separate vineyard sites responsible for Banfi’s Brunello di Montalcino production.
First, we tasted base wines of each individual clone. Banfi’s three Sangiovese clones – Janus 50, Janus 10 and BF 30 – are incredibly different. The first, the Janus 50, was quite fruity and aromatic, whereas the Janus 10 that followed it was more herbaceous and menthol. But the BF 30 was where the tannin and structure came through; it was the powerhouse of the bunch.
After tasting the individual Sangiovese clones, we tasted through blends of the three clones from each of the four different vineyards in Montalcino. Banfi’s property in the region stretches over just under 20 hectares; the difference in soil composition across the area is amazing. Here is a topographical look at the property:
So naturally, with so much variance in terroir from one area to another, each of the four vineyards – Casanova, Poggio d’Orcia, Podernuovo and Sorrena – produces drastically different fruit.
Once we’d sampled through the vineyard quartet, we moved on to the finished products – Banfi’s 2008 Brunello, 2007 Poggio alle Mura and 2004 Poggio all’Oro. The namesake Brunello and the alle Mura were very similar, which makes sense because the only major differences in the two are parts of the vineyard fruit is sourced from and amount of French Oak vs. Slavonian Oak used during aging.
The all’Oro, on the other hand, was a beast. Made with the finest fruit on the “Golden Slope” of the vineyard, this wine is unwieldy enough to merit 30 months of 100% French Oak barrel age after fermentation – 6 months more than its less-aggressive counterparts.
All three Brunellos were good, but the all’Oro was one of the best I’d had in a long time. After spending several months of immersion (see: drinking) in Bordeaux wines, this event served as a heady reminder that the upper echelon of Italian wines is indeed molto bene.