Herewith a translation of the press release issued by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino.
"One of the greatest symbols of Italian wine's quality and excellence in the world has passed away. Without a doubt, he was one of the most important architects of the success of Brunello di Montalino on an international level. Thanks to him, Brunello is one of the best known and most appreciated made-in-Italy brands. With his passing, the Consortium and the entire appellation not only lose a great producer but also a very great man who was known for his profound sensibility and humanity. We owe a great deal to him and we are sure that his example and his ability will be carried forward by those who will succeed him in his leadership at the winery. The next time that the Council meets, it will consider potential initiatives to honor his memory in the best way possible."
These were the words with which the President of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino Fabrizio Bindoci remembered Franco Biondi Santi, who had led the Tenuta Greppo di Montalcino since the 1970s.
The Mayor of Montalcino, Silvio Franceshelli, also shared his condolences with the Biondi Santi family and added: "I am profoundly saddened by the passing of a figure who gave a great deal to this land. It is thanks to him that Montalcino is so well known throughout the world and at such a high level. He was a man who enriched Montalcino and we will forever be grateful."
In 1934, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry recognized Franco Biondi Santi's grandfather Ferruccio as the "inventor of Brunello." In 1994, Decanter awarded 10/10 (a perfect score) to the 1891, a wine that was 103 years old at the time. In 1999, Wine Spectator rated the 1955 Riserva as one of the "best twelve wines produced in the world in the twentieth century."
Yesterday we have learned about an act of vandalism that took place at the Azienda Case Basse of Gianfranco Soldera, where, during the night before, unknown individuals had emptied the casks where his Brunello di Montalcino was aging. And we have had the confirmation from Soldera himself after we contacted him by telephone.
As friends and colleague producers of Montalcino, we are sending our solidarity to Gianfranco Soldera and we are saddened by the fact that something like this can happen.
The territory of Montalcino is a small and tranquil territory where many people still leave their doors of their homes unlocked. To find out about these sad events is shocking and it brings forth the spirit of solidarity that distinguishes the producers of Montalcino. They have never hesitated to step forward when there is need. And, again, this time, they will show their spirit of solidarity toward those who have been harshly injured.
Ieri abbiamo appreso di un atto vandalico avvenuto presso l'Azienda Case Basse di Gianfranco Soldera, dove durante la notte scorsa ignoti hanno svuotato le botti dove si trovava ad invecchiare il Brunello di Montalcino e ne abbiamo avuto la conferma dallo stesso contattato telefonicamente.
Come amici e colleghi produttori di Montalcino, inviamo la nostra solidarietà a Gianfranco Soldera, dispiaciuti che fatti del genere succedano.
Il territorio di Montalcino è un piccolo e tranquillo territorio dove tante persone lasciano ancora le chiavi sulla porta di casa. Sapere di questi tristi accadimenti ci sconvolge e tira fuori lo spirito solidale della grande famiglia che contraddistingue i produttori montalcinesi che non si sono mai tirati indietro quando ce n'è stato bisogno e anche questa volta dimostreranno il loro spirito di solidarietà verso chi è stato duramente colpito.
Last Thursday, the Administrative Council accepted the resignation of president Sir Ezio Rivella (knight in the Order of Merit for Labour).
The new president will remain in office until next year.
Montalcino, June 18, 2012 — The Administrative Council of the Brunello di Montalcino Consortium has unaminously named Fabrizio Bindocci its new President and he will remain in office until 2013 when the Consortium Assembly will select a new Administrative Council.
Since 1999, Fabrizio Bindocci, 57, has been the director of the Tenuta Il Poggione, one of Brunello di Montalcino's historic wineries. He has worked for the estate, owned by the Franceschi family, since 1976. From 1998 to 2000, he served as the body's vice president during Filippo Fanti's first presidency. He currently holds the post of consortium councillor and he also chairs its technical committee.
"First of all, I'd like to thank Ezio Rivella," said the newly installed president Bindocci, "not just for the siginficant results that were achieved during his presidency but especially because his stature and abilities have helped to maintain Brunello's winning image here in Italy and abroad. Today, Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino are performing very well on the market and in particular on the international market. We must consolidate this postive trend by taking an integrated approach as we move forward on all fronts: production, marketing, distribution, and sales. Only by combing all of our region's strengths and working together can we reach the finish line. Today's vote should be interpreted in this light and in the name of continuity with regard to decisions that have delivered truly remarkable results in difficult times. Our challenge is to determine the future of our presence in important and emerging markets."
Bindocci also reaffirmed his support for the three consortium vice presidents, Donatella Cinelli Colombini, Marco Cortonesi, and Giancarlo Pacenti, who will remain in their current posts. He also announced that vice president Colombini will focus her attention on the promotion of Montalcino's appellations as she works to expand the Consortium's efforts.
A few days ago, Giulio Gambelli passed away. He was a historical figure in Tuscan enology, with a great palate and innate ability as a taster, a talent he refined over the course of many years.
A highly capable man but at the same time a paragon of modesty who believed in the potential of Tuscan wines produced using only Sangiovese. He always said that winemakers are the ones who make the wines together with the land and the vine. He was a simple taster who gave his advice to winemakers on what to do in the cellar without forcing them to denaturalize their wines.
He made his first visit to Montalcino in the early 1970s when the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino asked him to visit all of the producers in the appellation. He drove his famous Renault 4 from winery to winery, tasted the wine from the barrel or vat, and then he would patiently and phlegmatically explain the importance of cleanliness in the cellar, precision in vinification, the importance of racking, etc. But always with the humility typical of the greats in the world of wine.
When he came to visit us at Il Poggione, we liked to have him taste from cask. After our tasting, we would head over to the Trattoria Il Pozzo where we would continue tasting wines from bottle paired with classic Tuscan dishes.
I was proud to know him and our friendship was the source of great joy. Every year, we would speak to catch up and wish each other happy holidays. But this year, season's greetings didn't arrive. He was in the hospital. My thoughts and wishes go out to Giulio's family and dear ones.
Giulio Gambelli, one of the giants of Tuscan wine, has died at the age of 86.
Gambelli – who was known as Bicchierino (or ‘Little Glass’) – was celebrated as one of Italy’s greatest connoisseurs of Sangiovese, and recognised as a superb taster.
He was born in 1925 in Poggibonsi in Siena, and joined Enopolio de Poggibonsi, which was then one of the largest wineries in the region, at the age of 14 as a cellar hand.
At Enopolio his tasting skills came to the notice of its director, Tancredi Biondi Santi, who took him on as his assistant in the company’s laboratory, where Gambelli started a lifelong study of Sangiovese.
In a career spanning nearly 70 vintages Gambelli's most renowned consultancies were with the Brunello di Montalcino of Soldera and Chianti Classico of Montevertine, but his importance was as an unwavering proponent of the use of the Sangiovese grape as a monovarietal at a time when Tuscan wineries were busily experimenting with blending Sangiovese with international grapes.
In this he was far ahead of his time. The importance of Sangiovese, in its own right, is now undisputed in Tuscany, and, arguably, it was Gambelli's work that led to that recognition.
Among many plaudits he received, Le Pergole Torte of Montevertine, on which he consulted, featured in Decanter's 2008 list of Italy's 50 Greatest Wines.
Journalist Carlo Macchi, who published a biography of Gambelli in 2007 (pictured) described him as ‘the last Sangiovese butterfly [that] for the past sixty-five years, instead of flying off, has been creating wines that make you feel lighter’.
Macchi quoted Gianfranco Soldera of Soldera in Montalcino, for whom Gambelli consulted, saying that ‘Giulio tastes what others do not, there’s no-one like him’.
Tributes have been pouring in on social media, with Italian wine lovers the world overlamenting his passing.
'Gambelli's legacy is a strong belief in Sangiovese - as one of Italy's undisputed great grape varieties’ one tweet said, while others referred to him as' Sangiovese’s most important protagonist'.
Most simply paid tribute to a man they described as ‘il grande maestro del Sangiovese.’
Yesterday, after we had posted the results of the election for president of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino, we have found this post by Mrs. Jancis Robinson, who included a mention of our blog Montalcino Report. We are very grateful to Mrs. Robinson for her words and her generous mention.
After dramatic last-minute machinations, it has just been revealed that the secret ballot to elect the new president of the Brunello di Montalcino consortium revealed that arch-modernist Ezio Rivella of Banfi garnered most votes and will now direct the fortunes of this controversial wine.
Until very recently it looked as though the most prominent woman in Montalcino, Donatella Cinelli Colombini, would win, but at the eleventh hour, in a move that took many by surprise, she withdrew her candidacy and threw her weight behind Rivella. Concerned that this would be the final nail in the Brunello coffin, and that Piemonte-born Rivella would encourage the use of grape varieties other than Brunello (Sangiovese), veteran winemaker Fabrizio Bindocci of the respected estate Il Poggione declared his own bid for the presidency yesterday.
In an open letter sent to and published by Italy's leading wine blogger Franco Ziliani, traditionalist Bindocci asked his fellow council members for their support, having previously endorsed Cinelli. An English-language version of the letter can be found on his son Alessandro Bindocci's blog, MontalcinoReport.com, where the result of the ballot has just been published.
It seems as though the juggernaut rolling towards the likes of Syrah di Montalcino is unstoppable.