Tuscany has always been rich with tradition. But tradition alone cannot sustain great winemaking. It takes constant dedication to the land and to the cellar to become an iconic producer. Read on to learn about the Bianchini family and how three generations have developed the Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona estate into a producer of noteworthy, craveable juice. While I love many of their wines, the 2013 ‘Pianrosso’ Brunello di Montalcino stands out as particularly exceptional.
- Kevin O. Hart , Founder Hart & CRU
BENCHMARK BRUNELLO FROM TUSCANY’S CIACCI PICCOLOMINI
Tuscany’s rolling hills and picturesque vineyards conjure up memories of trips gone by and visions of trips to come for food and wine geeks around the world. It’s ocean and mountain influence are an ideal setting for hearty and rustic foods that beg for the perfect wine pairing.
And, to talk wine in Tuscany, is to talk Sangiovese.
Often overlooked by sommeliers in favor of some of Italy’s more obscure varietals, Sangiovese is as important to Tuscan cuisine as olive oil. Any sommelier worth their salt will tell you that it takes great food to unlock truly great wine, so naturally Tuscany and its native grape have earned their place at the table together.
A 17th Century Estate & Third-Generation Winemaking Family
One of the more iconic producers in Montalcino is the Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona estate. Initially farmers of the estate, the Bianchini family became owners when they were bequeathed the property in 1985. In the years since, the Bianchinis (first Giuseppe, then his children Paolo and Lucia, now joined by Paolo’s children Alex and Ester) have focused on coaxing Brunello di Montalcino wines of great complexity and balance from the historic property.
But the Bianchinis’ lives are more than traditional. Paolo can spotted on the estate, ripping through the hillsides in his Land Rover Discovery. The estate’s tasting room attracts more than wine drinkers—it’s also a shrine to cycling, with a permanent exhibition of historic bikes, jerseys and memorabilia. This next-level dedication to cycling can further be seen in the estate-sponsored amateur cycling club, the Brunello Bike ASD, with proceeds going to charity.
Balancing Terroir & Modern Technology in Tuscany
With the Bianchini family’s roots in farming, it’s no surprise that their most prized wines have a distinctive sense of place. The fabled Pianrosso (“red field”) vineyard is among Italy’s most sought-after fruit sources for Sangiovese Grosso. The Cru was lucky to get our hands on single-vineyard bottlings from Pianrosso and were seriously impressed that they lived up to the hype—and more. Elegant and powerful, the 2013 represents Brunello di Montalcino at its finest.
With a nod to wine’s future, the estate’s Molinello cellar—helmed by Paolo’s eldest son Alex—is the most modern and contains a tank room on par with the most advanced in the world. Tradition dictates, however, that the cellar benefit from its natural underground temperatures. It is there that you’ll find Ciacci’s many Slavonian oak barrels, optimal for developing Sangiovese’s subtleties over a long aging period.
Food, Wine, Tradition
Imagine the crackle of bread fresh out of the oven, a seemingly never-ending stream of estate olive oil, and the comforting table chatter of a family invested in producing amazing wine with character. It’s no wonder that the Bianchini family, one of Montalcino’s top producers, have found such joy in paying respect to tradition while skillfully guiding the wine world forward.
WINES BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO, ‘PIANROSSO’
Named after the celebrated, eponymously named vineyard site. This single-vineyard bottling is what Ciacci’s outstanding reputation was built upon. Aged for three years in 20-62 hl Slavonian oak barrels followed one year in bottle before release.