This is a photography taken facing southward from Il Poggione's estate at the Amiata chain of extinct vulcano mountains. The Mt Amiata has been there for a very very long time and it will still be there much long after we are all gone. As that ancient Latins said, TEMPUS OMNIA VINCIT.
The world of our Montalcino and Sant'Angelo in Colle has changed a lot since my father was a young man. He remembers that when he was young and was the assistant winemaker at Il Poggione, the harvest came much later than it does now. The summer is warmer now because of the global warming and so we all have to pick our fruits sooner. Probably in the the 1970 decade when he was young there were about 100.000 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino produced every year. Today there are 7.000.000 for the 2004 vintage and there are over 250 members of the Consortium del Vino Brunello di Montalcino.
I and my father Fabrizio Bindocci were saddened to read the articles about the Brunello di Montalcino investigation and the conclusions of the investigators that five wineries have broken the rules of the Brunello di Montalcino "disciplinare" or "appellation's regulation". But we are also glad that this chapter in the long history of our land is concluded. There are 250 producers and many were controlled over and over again. But the investigators only found that five have broken the rule.
At Il Poggione, we have always made Brunello with "Sangiovese in purezza", 100% Sangiovese. We know that things change with the passing of the years but we are glad that Brunello is still 100% and that the Mt. Amiata still protects Il Poggione's estate from the bad weather that can arrive from the South. It may have been a difficult year for Montalcino but Mt. Amiata is still there and our beloved Brunello di Montalcino is still "Sangiovese in purezza".
In his review of Tenuta Il Poggione's 2004 Brunello di Montalcino, Antonio Galloni noted that "The Brunello is made from four vineyards ranging from 250 to 400 meters in altitude, all in Sant’Angelo in Colle." This is very important because, as you know well, altitude is fundamental for growing grapes for fine wines. You need the altitude so that there will be cooler temperatures in the evening during the summer that allow the grapes to mature more gradually and gently. If it is too hot at night the grapes will mature too quickly and they will "cook".
In this post on Understanding Brunello terroir using Google Earth part III, there is another very important aspect evidenced to demonstrate how the terroir of Sant'Angelo in Colle is unique and special.
The top yellow pin indicates Montalcino. The center yellow pin indicates Sant'Angelo in the southernmost subzone of the Brunello di Montalcino appellation. And the bottom yellow pin indicates Mt. Amiata that arrives to 1,700 meters above sea level.
Note how close Sant'Angelo is in reality to the sea and note also how Mt. Amiata provides a sort of "shield" to the south of the Brunello di Montalcino appellation which helps to protect our lands from inclement weather.
But the most important thing to note is how there is a natural "corridor" that rises up from the sea at the bottom left of the map to Sant'Angelo. One of the interesting things about Google Earth is how it will tell you the altitude of a position where you point the arrow of your computer. Download and install Google Earth: If you pull your cursor along the natural corridor that I have indicated, you can see how the altitudes rise from zero meters above sea level at the sea at the bottom of the corridor up to 400 meters.
This natural corridor brings the cool and dry breezes up from the sea to our vineyards. This is very important for our fruits: the dry sea breeze help us to reduce mildew and rot in our vineyard and the ventilation that they provide help us to preserve freshness in our wines.
This are some of the important aspects which create the unique growing conditions that represent the Brunello di Montalcino terroir and in particular the subzone of Sant'Angelo in Colle that we think to be the best.
The image above is a detail from the appellation map in the post of yesterday.
The satellite photo above evidences Tenuta Il Poggione to the south of Sant'Angelo in Colle, which is situated at 400 meters above sea level. The Yellow Pin evidences where our "tenuta" is situated. As you can see in the image, our vineyards like at just below 400 meters above sea level and they benefit from south and southwest exposure. These two factors are very important for growing grapes for great Brunello like ours.
This is a three dimensional image viewing Sant'Angelo in Colle and Tenuta Il Poggione from the south. As is evidenced in the image, our "tenuta" and vineyards are located on the slope that descends from Sant'Angelo in Colle.
In the next coming post, I will speak of the rapport between Mount Amiata to the south and the nearness to the Thyrrenian Sea.
Now more than ever are people talking about terroir of wine. So with this post I wanted to explain the terroir of Montalcino and Sant'Angelo in Colle by using a wondrous tool called Google Earth (if you do not have Google Earth, please download it and search for Sant'Angelo in Colle and Montalcino and you will find all kind of interesting informations and photographs of our land).
This is the first post in a series of posts that I will try to explain the terroir of Brunello di Montalcino using maps and images from Google Earth.
Here's a map of the Brunello di Montalcino appellation confines. Only Sangiovese Grosso grapes grown in this area can be used in the production of Brunello di Montalcino.
Here is the same map with the the area around Sant'Angelo in Colle evidenced.
The winery and estate where my father and I work, Il Poggione, is in the village of Sant'Angelo in Colle (the name of our village means Saint Angelus on Hill). Our vineyards are situated just to the south of the village. The fact that we are in the south of the appellation is important but I will speak about that in the next post.
Here is a Google Earth screenshot of the same evidenced area.
In the lower corner to the left you can see that Sant'Angelo is at 400 meter above sea level. The altitude of our vineyards is very important for having cool temperatures at night to allow the fruits of the vineyards to ripen slowly during warms days of summer months. Not all of the appellation is so high in altitude and not all the growing site can make such good fruit for superior Brunello. That is why our village is called Sant'Angelo IN COLLE because it is situated on a hill. This is very good for the vineyards.