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Montalcino’s volcanic majesty (notes for Nov. 28 wine dinner)

mt amiata

Left: The peaks of the extinct volcano, Mt. Amiata, protect Montalcino from inclement weather that originates in the Mediterranean, helping to create the unique terroir and long-lived wines of the appellation. See details for the Nov. 28 “Majesty of Brunello Dinner” below.

The picturesque Mt. Amiata — an extinct volcano — stands watch over the appellation of Montalcino in silent majesty.

The unique geography of this area of western Tuscany is one of the key factors in the appellation’s ability to deliver muscular, long-lived, and finely nuanced expressions of Sangiovese. Because the volcano lies to the south of the growing zones, it protects the fruit from inclement weather arriving from the Mediterranean basin.

But the sleeping giant of Montalcino also contributes in another fundamental way: the ancient volcanic subsoils of the area (see the image below) are ideal for the cultivation of the rich fruit needed to craft these wines.

Above: Note the striations of black and brown soil. The black is ancient lava. This photo was taken in the cellar of a home in the medieval village of Castelnuovo dell’Abate where Poggio di Sotto is grown and vinified.

Nutrient poor and mineral rich, the compact volcanic subsoil forces the vine’s roots to struggle in their search for the water table. This “stress” (as it is called in wine parlance) naturally increases the vine’s “vigor” (the same way that exercise, while fatiguing you, increases your strength and endurance). The rich fruit produced by stressed vines is what gives Brunello its unique ability to age and its powerful tannic structure.

On November 28, we will be tasting the 1998 Brunello di Montalcino by Poggio di Sotto, grown in the medieval hamlet of Castelnuovo di Sotto, the appellation’s subzone that is most rich in volcanic composition.

THE MAJESTY OF BRUNELLO
a menu created especially by
TONY VALLONE

wines by:
Bartolo Mascarello
Angelo Gaja
Poggio di Sotto
Quintarelli

tasting notes by Italian wine expert
and author Jeremy Parzen, Ph.D.

7:00 p.m.
Wednesday, November 28
$295 per person
(plus tax and gratuity)

Please call (713) 622-6778 to reserve.

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