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An author’s note on Brunello and its friends

10:25 AM  Dec 30th, 2010
by Thomas M. Columbus

I was delighted when I was assigned to do a story on Banfi and its UD connections. I like wine. And my wife and I had taken a wine course taught by Tom Davis, who is more often employed teaching statistics here. With a semester’s worth of study and the memory of numerous tastings from wine Davis had collected over the years, I had gained “a little learning,” which, the poet Pope tells us, “is a dangerous thing.”

But it’s fun, too.

And besides I was familiar with some of Banfi’s wines, such as the Col di Sasso and the Centine served by our favorite local Italian restaurant. I did not know of the huge number of wines that Banfi imported from other producers, such as the Chilean giant Concha y Toro. And I did not know of the wines that Davis, when I told him of my assignment, mentioned in tones of ecstasy — the great Brunellos of Castello Banfi. The first that he had tasted — a Poggio alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino — was 30 years old when he drank it in 2001.

“It was an eye opener,” he said.

From a man who has amassed thousands of bottles of wine and a lifetime of knowledge, this was impressive.

The Marianis, according to Davis’ course textbook (Wine for Dummies), “are leaders in research into the grapes and terroirs of Montalcino.” (Coming from the French word for land, terroir refers to the characteristics of a wine coming from elements such as soil, sun, altitude and weather.) Brunello di Montalcino traditionally must age for years and aerate for hours — and is hugely enjoyable.

For those wanting to drink a wine before it’s decades old, Wine for Dummies recommends Rosso di Montalcino as “a great value, offering you a glimpse of Brunello’s majesty without breaking the bank.”

This article is a sidebar to our Winter 2010-11 feature “Wine & Family.”

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