Castello di Montepò

At Vino Italiano with Tancredi Biondi Santi

A fabulous evening at Vino Italiano in Waltham, MA sampling the wines of Castello di Montepò, a property owned by the Biondi Santi family, and located in the Maremma region south of Tuscany. Tancredi Biondi Santi, the son of Jacopo Biondi Santi led us through a wonderful journey of wine, history, and culture while curating his amazing wines.

The Biondi Santi family are legendary in Italian wine, especially in the region of Brunello di Montalcino. In the 14th Century, two families, the Biondi of Firenze and the Santi of Siena were brought together in marriage. At that time, the prevailing wine in Montalcino was Moscadello di Montalcino, a sweet wine made from Moscato grapes. The style persisted until the mid-19th Century when Clemente Santi’s son, Ferrucio Biondi Santi first isolated a clone of Sangiovese, now known as Sangiovese Grosso and began producing a dry red wine, called Brunello. Ferrucio’s grandson, Franco Biondi Santi is responsible for the creation of the now famous Brunello di Montalcino DOCG region. In the 1980s, Franco’s grandson Jacopo Biondi Santi bought a property in the heart of Maremma, specifically to grow the family’s historic Brunello clone BBS11, or “Brunello Biondi Santi 11,” which is owned and trademarked by the family.

The property that Jacopo purchased is Castello di Montepò, consisting of 52 hectares (130 acres) of vineyards, growing three varietals: BBS11 Sangiovese Grosso (87%) and Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot (13%). The vineyards are roughly 1,500 feet above sea level, and are almost entirely composed of galestro soil, which is a rocky, schistous clay soil found in the best vineyards of Tuscany. According to Jacopo: “here, on the estate of Castello di Montepò we find all the elements, in terms of altitude, soil composition, wind exposure and microclimate, needed to create a unique and distinctive terroir, the ideal environment to grow the Sangiovese Grosso BBS11 clone.

Tancredi is an incredibly charming and engaging host. Entertaining to a fault, he is passionate about his family’s winemaking heritage and the amazing wines he is now producing at Castello di Montepò.

Guests were greeted with a selection of passed Italian Antipasti and the 2022 JeT Rosato, made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso (BBS11 Clone). The wine and antipasti were wonderful. The incredible fact about the JeT is that during the wine making process, the juice was lightly pressed off the skins and no post-pressing maceration took place. The beautiful salmon color was a product of the pigmentation retained in the juice. Simply amazing.

2022 Castello di Montepò JeT, Vino Toscana Rosato IGT

100% Sangiovese Grosso (BBS11 Clone)

Perfumed, floral nose with strawberry, and peach hints. Light-bodied with moderate acidity. Crisp. Well-balanced with great structure and nice mid-palate weight. Fresh berries, stone fruit and citrus notes. Long finish – clean and refreshing. Very approachable.

Guests were seated and served the first course, Black Truffle Insalata (Frisee Greens, Crispy Poached Egg, Pancetta Dressing, Shaved Black Truffles). Accompanying the salad was 202 Morellino di Scansano and surprisingly, the pairing worked very well. The truffle blended beautifully with the earthy, plummy notes in the wine.

2020 Castello di Montepò Morellino di Scansano DOCG

95% Sangiovese Grosso (BBS11 Clone), 5% Cabernet Sauvignon

Garnet color with an earthy, plummy nose. Eucalyptus and mint hints. Medium-bodied with moderate acidity. Well-balanced with firm tannins. Black cherry, tar and crushed rose petals. Lush palate – youthful. Long finish with cherry, anise and a wisp of smoke on the aftertaste. Lovely.

The next course was a Wild Boar Ragu (Slowly Simmered Wild Boar, Strozzapreti Pasta and Parmgiano), served with the Sassoalloro, which was celebrating its 30th anniversary, having first been produced in 1991. The gaminess of the boar melded beautifully with the earthy character of the wine.

2021 Castello di Montepò Sassoalloro Toscana IGT

100% Sangiovese Grosso (BBS11 Clone)

Dark garnet color with an earthy nose. Red currant, anise and violet hints. Medium-bodied with firm acidity. Well-balanced with firm, yet silky tannins. Black cherry, currant, and plum notes. Long finish with black licorice. Delicious with long aging potential.

The next course was Duck Confit (Crispy Polenta, Forested Mushrooms, Vin Cotto, Microgreens) and was served with the Sassoalloro Oro, which is the first vintage of this wine. Again, the earthy, gamey quality of the wine paired beautifully with the duck.

2020 Castello di Montepò Sassoalloro Oro Toscano IGT

100% Sangiovese Grosso (BBS11 Clone)

Dark garnet color with plum and black cherry on the nose and licorice and eucalyptus hints. Medium-bodied with firm acidity. Well-balanced with firm, dry tannins. Intense. Black cherry, earthy and tarry. Deep and brooding. Long, but tight finish. Brambles and mint on the aftertaste. Very long aging potential. A wisp of smoke.

The next course was Italian Mambo (Beef Tenderloin, Seared Foie Gras, Papaya and Mango Salsa) and was paired with the flagship of the winery, their Schidione. The tenderloin was simply perfect and the papaya and mango salsa was an interesting twist.

2019 Castello di Montepò Schidione Toscana IGT

40% Sangiovese Grosso (BBS11 Clone), 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot

*Each grape is vinified separately and aged individually for 24 months in Barrique. The wines are then blended according to the strict percentages noted above and the aged another 18 months in bottle before release. A very limited production.

Opaque – black. Massive on the nose. Imposing. Plum, black cherry, tarry notes. Full-bodied with moderate acidity. Well balanced with silky tannins. Lush palate. Chocolate, plum and black cherry notes. Magnificent. Long finish. Tight. Lovely with a hint of roasted game on the aftertaste.

*According to Tancredi, he likens this wine to a man, wearing a suit with a bright tie. The “man” is the BBS11 – it provides the frame upon which the “suit”, the Cabernet is worn. The “tie”, or Merlot, offers a colorful, stylish accent, creating a whole package. Tancredi also felt that the wine would not even begin to open up until 15 years of aging – I tend to agree.