Brunello stands out from other Sangiovese-based Tuscan reds, such as Chianti and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Perhaps this is because it is made from a single Brunello clone of Sangiovese, while the others are blends of multiple Sangiovese clones.
For the better part of the last century, however, Montalcino was a poor Tuscan town, known best for Moscadello dessert wines and neglected vineyards. Altesino is among a handful of Brunello producers who pushed for increased quality and recognition in the 1970s and 1980s, revolutionizing the region entirely. After purchasing his property in 1970, Giulio Consonno and his collaborators began several years of experimentation. They were convinced that the strict aging requirements for Brunello di Montalcino were preventing them from making the best wine they could. The found that the strong, tannic wines obtained from their grapes do not show their best potential when subjected to 3 1/2 years of aging in bottle. Instead, putting these same wines into small French oak cooperage for shorter periods of time brought out the fruit, softened the tannins and resulted in perfectly balanced wines. A string of classic wines followed, and Altesino established a style characterized by finesse, elegance and rich, vibrant fruit tones.
In 2002, the winery changed hands. New owner Elisabetta Gnudi Angelini maintains the traditions that elevate Altesino’s wine while improving function and equipment in the cellar: “Altesino is very traditional. It doesn’t follow fashions. You have the best piece of land in Montalcino — Montosoli — why should we change the wine? We have a jewel, something unique.”
“Altesino is one of the most consistent Brunello producers going. Its white label “normale” is almost always an outstanding bottle and drinks very well young. However, Altesino’s single-vineyard Brunello, Montosoli, is the legend-maker for the estate. Located on the north side of Montalcino, the slightly more than 11-acre Montosoli is one of the most beautiful hillside vineyards in Italy, with near-perfect exposure to the sun ensuring optimum fruit ripeness. Made only in top vintages, it is a racy, powerfully structured red that needs years of bottle age to fulfill its potential. Altesino’s Brunello Riserva can also be top-notch.”Wine Spectator, “The Cream of the Crop”, July 2007