The Wine Advocate: My Visit to Biondi-Santi
Published July 31, 2019
By Monica Larner
I set off to my appointment at Il Greppo, the venerated home of Biondi-Santi.
This historic estate was recently sold to France’s luxury goods firm Européenne de Participations Industrielles (EPI), and the new owners initially put in a French general manger to oversee the estate. For whatever reason, that didn’t work out. The Frenchman was replaced by an Italian—more pointedly, a Tuscan native who came to Montalcino after years as a very successful manager at Frescobaldi.
This visit gave me my first opportunity to meet and spend some time with incoming General Manager Giampiero Bertolini. I was extremely favorably impressed, both by his determination to stay the course at Il Greppo (in other words, to safeguard the legendary winemaking traditions practiced at this landmark estate) and by the modesty and reverence he so carefully articulated. The fact he just happened to have old vintages of Biondi-Santi opened, aerated and ready for me to taste certainly did not work against that favorable impression.
Under Bertolini’s management, the plan is to invest 30 percent of all profits back into the winery and vineyards. Winemaking at Il Greppo will not change, but there is a push to further improve quality. For now, work is being done to map out specific vineyard parcels. More flexibility (and space) is being created in order to ferment those parcels separately.
Fermentation and aging at Il Greppo otherwise remain virtually unchanged. Giampiero Bertolini has a new team in place and works alongside Tancredi Biondi Santi (Franco’s grandson).
In addition to the estate’s newest releases—the 2015 Rosso di Montalcino and the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino—we tasted two older vintages, the 2006 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and the 1995 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, which are both being reintroduced to the market as special cellar selections. On top of those commercially available wines, I had the rare opportunity to taste the 1998 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, the 1983 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva and the 1975 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. I also had the enormous pleasure to review … a few other cellar treasures for context.