Argiano, The Beginning of Brunello
Mar 02, 2020
by Rob Griffin, Director of Wine & Wine Education Statewide
If you go back to the beginning of grape growing in Montalcino in the 16th century, the original Argiano estate was active and prosperous, as it is today. If you’ve ever wondered about the origin of Brunello wine in the 19th century and who did what to establish its initial identity, start by knowing the Argiano estate was actively involved from the beginning. If your curiosity to know more leads you to inquire who the Brunello Consortium’s co-founding fathers in 1967 were, the answer again is Argiano.
Over time, a handful of dedicated owners, including a nobleman from one of Sienna’s pioneering land owning families, a countess and heir to the Cinzano drinks conglomerate and more recently an energetic group of South American investors have owned and managed the estate, amiably situated on a high plateau above the village of Sant’Angelo in the appellation’s (significantly) warmer southern zone. Multiple personalities left various marks on the estate but always, one steady direction was maintained, and one sole mission was pursued. In the words of the countess herself, “strive for excellence and lead the way.”
Before you pigeonhole Argiano as a strictly “old-school” estate, consider also its role in the front ranks of every important development in Montalcino’s last 50 years, from its co-authorship of the “Super Tuscan Wine” category in the 1980s to the lasting contributions of the school’s founder, eminent viticultural dean Giacomo Tachis, whose influence continues to reign vigorously throughout contemporary Italian wine circles.
Tachis may have been the earliest to see the wider possibilities of southern Brunello’s primary soils, balmy climate and ventilated rolling hills and the first to intuit that non-native grapes like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and even Petit Verdot could not only grow successfully in Sant’Angelo’s limestone-rich terroirs, but those French natives could blend seamlessly with the estate’s historic Sangiovese Grosso grapes to make great wine. Groundbreaking compositions like Solengo and Non Confunditur (no equal) are the result of this vision.
More recently plans for a single vineyard Brunello Riserva (not many of those around) have succeeded a restructured winery now fully equipped with ultra sensitive humidity and temperature controls. Fittingly, in 2018, in recognition of the estate’s dedicated efforts on behalf of “green earth viticultural principles,” Argiano was issued official organic certification, a commendable achievement attempted by many but earned by few.
So, if Argiano can be pegged as traditional on one hand, fairness demands the estate get equal recognition for its forward progress on the other. In short, Argiano is what it’s been since the beginning, one of the youngest old estates in Montalcino.
“Very floral on the nose, with plums, rose petals, and freshly sliced porcini mushrooms. The palate is tight and compressed with beautiful ripe fruit, wet earth, and cool stone flavors. A structured and impressive wine.” – 95pts James Suckling
“A focused and tight red with a currant, blackberry and mineral character. Medium to full body with tight and pretty tannins. Shows class in this vintage.” – 94-95pts James Suckling
“A savory, spicy red with dark berries and chocolate and a hint of vanilla on the palate. Medium to full body, very chewy tannins and a flavorful finish.” – 93pts James Suckling