Benvenuto Brunello Festival 2018

Sting and Trudie Styler unveil their plaque. Photo: Consorzio Vino Brunello Montalcino.

  MONTALCINO- Every February amidst the blustering Tuscan winter winds, thousands coalesce in this small town to savour a warming slice of summer thanks to the Consorzio del vino Brunello di Montalcino who organizes ‘Benvenuto Brunello.’

  Drive through the meandering and whispery thin arteries until you reach the cresting town of Montalcino. Distinguished by its cobbled-streets, enoteche and well preserved medieval buildings, this small dwelling is encased by an unmistakeable charm and magnetism. After becoming embroiled in Siena’s battle against Florence during the rule of the Medici family in 1555, Montalcino held out for almost four years after Siena’s fall, before ultimately subsiding to the Florentines. An atmosphere of stereotype, serenity and class descends upon visitors, creating the aura of being lost and finding oneself amongst scenery that would not be out of place in a film directed by the great Federico Fellini.

  Dating back to the year of 1992, with the arrival of January, the Consorzio del vino Brunello di Montalcino assesses the new wine production by which it can assemble information on the Montalcino harvest and its wines, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Moscadello di Montalcino and Sant’Antimo. These wines endure tests of a chemical, physical and organoleptic nature by a string of veteran technicians in the region. The outcome is evaluated in stars, stretching from one (insufficient vintage) all the way up to five (outstanding vintage) which are subsequently declared at Benvenuto Brunello.

  The kermesse, located in the museum of Montalcino, for the initial two days is filled with exhibiting the new wines on the market since the beginning of the year to the operators of the sector. This year the new vintage wines are: Brunello di Montalcino 2013, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012 and Rosso di Montalcino 2016.

  Although this remains at the forefront of the festival, we were privileged enough to listen to Luciano Ferraro, the esteemed journalist and editor-in-chief of Corriere della Sera on his lectures titled "The Brunello in the world, from cellars to the web. Meeting with the protagonists of the Network" and “The future of wine and climate, seen by new generations.” Patrizio Cencioni, chairman of the consortium commented on this year’s focus of the future, “we wanted to give a new imprint to the “preview” because, if it is true that the world of wine is changing, the events associated with it must also evolve accordingly.”

  Ferraro spoke in depth with the protagonists of the Minutelli network, food & wine manager for Alibaba, with Andrea Nardi Dei, founder of Vino75, and with Marco Magnacavallo, CEO of Tannico, about the prominence of e-commerce on the global wine market. Research recorded by Tannico, confirms Brunello comes second in online sales among red wines although if we look at solely luxury wines ($25 minimum per bottle) it is, in fact first. Furthermore, Italian consumers of these high-end products have increased by 30% since 2016.

  In his second seminar, Ferraro, was joined by meteorologist from the La7 television station Paolo Sottocorona, the journalist from WineSpectator, Robert Camuto and the young wine producers of Montalcino, regarding the longevity and conservancy of wine. He expanded by saying ‘The new generations are different from the fathers, they have travelled more and have different linguistic skills. And then there is the climate factor that is very timely.’

  However, this year's sparkling novelty are the four roundtables by Luca Martini, the best sommelier in the world in the 2013, and one of the freshly released vintages for this festival. Available to the public, with Sunday and Monday being open to all ticket-buyers since 2017.

  Sting and Trudie Styler, who have designed the commemorative plaque for the 2017 vintage, arrived to hang this from the wall in the town hall of Montalcino. They explained the interweaving connection between music and wine, A wine is like a good story, a story told in song tells the story of those who made it, of those who cared for and nurtured the land that it came from. All of those who helped its development from the vine to the cask, and to the bottle where it is lovingly stored until it is uncorked and brought back to the air where its song can be heard and appreciated by all of those who love wine.”

  The plaque  shows a Tuscan sunset as the background to the white etching of a guitar, signifying the earthly foundations that are portrayed in music. Four stars appear (the rating of this year’s wine) which will be hung on the wall of the Town hall alongside all other other designs since 1992, followed by a magnificent performance by Sting.

   The Leccio d’Oro 2018 awards were presented to the restaurant and wine shop, in the two groupings “Italy” and “Abroad”, to the best wine list or a refined and representative selection of Brunello and Montalcino wines.

  This year’s awardees are: 8 1/2 Otto e Mezzo Bombana of Hong Kong for “Foreign restaurant” and K&L Wine Merchants of San Francisco for “Foreign wine shop”. In Italy, Osteria Le Logge of Siena for the “Restaurant” category and to Gastronomia Galanti of Florence for the “Wine shop” category.