Biondi Santi: new releases from this star of Brunello


Biondi Santi is one of Italy’s great estates. The brilliant thing about this domaine is the consistency of style: picking relatively early and giving wines a long elevage in large format barrels. This didn’t waver when much of Italy’s fine wine dimension was heading in the Super Tuscan direction, looking for more concentration, more ripeness, and bolstering everything with new small oak. Biondi Santi is legit, and the wines – which can be a little shy in their youth – age beautifully, and deserve their high reputation. This style has even survived a recent change in ownership.

Giampiero Bertolini (above) was in town showing off the 2024 releases at Pavyllon restaurant in the Four Seasons. This was a grand occasion made even grander by the presence of celebrated novelist Joanne Harris. Last year she was commissioned by Biondi Santi to come out to the estate, where she spent two days soaking up the inspiration to write a novella on the theme of this year’s release, which is respect. You can listen to it here.

Joanne Harris

Joanne is most famous for Chocolat, which became a major Hollywood theme, but she also wrote a novel called Blackberry Wine, which has the nice twist of all the old bottles talking in their own voice, an artistic twist that had to be dropped for the US market, where her publisher didn’t think that American readers would get bottles talking. Her grandfather was a keen fruit winemaker in Barnsley, although his wines were a little experimental. She found a lot of the old bottles in his basement when he died, and this in part was inspiration for the book.

She says that working with Biondi Santi made her realise that there’s a connection between creators, whether it’s words, wines or scents that are being created. ‘All are more than a sum of their parts,’ she says, ‘so we respond to the narratives of the people that connect them.’

Giampiero joined in November 2018 after spending 16 years as the marketing and sales director at Frescobaldi. This was after the property was purchased in 2017 by Groupe EPI, a French private investment group who also own Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck, and since 2022 Isole e Olena. He is committed to reinvesting in Biondi-Santi, with an approach he describes as evolution not revolution.

‘Since the beginning we are trying to learn as much as possible from the vineyard,’ he says. In 2019 he began an in-depth study of the estate’s 32 hectares of vineyards, hiring terroir expert Pedro Parra to help them. Parra spent three days analysing the property, and dug 32 soil pits. They have identified 12 parcels that they are now keeping separate in the winery. ‘We are learning interesting things from this.’ They have also purchased an additional 6 hectares, which they are planting with a specially designed trellising system. ‘This trellising system allows the vines to grow in a way to protect the fruit from heat, like an umbrella,’ says Giampiero.

Back in 1978 Franco Biondi-Santi selected the BBS11 clone of Sangiovese, and this was the first time a clone had been named after a family. This is a really good clone for some soils, but not all. One of the assets they have is an old plot of less than a hectare dating back to the 1930s. This is one of the oldest in Montalcino. They have identified 50 different biotypes of Sangiovese, from which they have selected 20 to see how they react to the soil and climate change. ‘The future will be our unique recipe of clones.’

Biondi-Santi, like many, are adopting a regenerative approach, to improve the soils. They are looking for healthier, more resilient vineyards and they are protecting the soils and are using precise cover crops.


Biondi Santi Rosso 2020 Toscana, Italy
This is made with grapes from the lower vineyard at 220 m, with mainly clasy souls. Fresh, pure and fine with some liqourice notes as well as taut red cherry. Lovely precision here with good balance and fine structure. This is really balanced and delicious. 94/100

Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino 2018 Italy
This spends 30-34 months in large Slavonian oak casks, after a 15 day fermentation. Fresh, taut and linear, showing appealing red cherry notes with some savoury, spicy structure. This is focused and balanced with nice firm tannins providing structural grip, and a hint of pepper on the finish. Pure and precise, this has massive potential for development. 96/100

Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2010 Italy
The Riserva isn’t made every year. It’s made the same way as the regular Brunello, and the selection is made by tasting. In the past this was usually older vines, but now the plot selection work might result in some of the younger vines making the cut. Beautiful aromatics: autumnal with some dried herbs and undergrowth, as well as sweet black fruits. Lovely structure on the palate with sweet herbs, notes of raspberry and cherry, and good tannic structure. This has developed beautifully. 95/100

Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1988 Italy
Wonderful aromatics here: fine raspberry and cherry fruit with nice spice and earth notes, and a touch of smoke even. The palate is really complex with iodine, earth and spices as well as wonderful complexity. Taut acid line with significant structure still, but matched by the sweet strawberry and cherry fruit. Real finesse here. 97/100