Francisco Mulanari L’Aietta Rosso di Montalcino 2016
Winegrower: Francisco Mulanari
Region: Montalcino (Tuscany), Italy
Grape: Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello Sangiovese)
“L’Aietta is the smallest Brunello estate in Montalcino, but… quality-wise this young firm is one of the denomination’s most extraordinary albeit little known gems. L’Aietta’s Brunellos and Rossos are quintessential Sangiovese from Montalcino, with mouthfuls of wild cherry and mineral, and impressive structure and depth… intensely floral and bright with rich, ripe fruit and fantastic, uplifting minerality and hefty structure.”
- Kerin O’Keefe, Brunello Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Greatest Wines
Rosso di Montalcino is meant to be the gentle sibling of its big brother Brunello. Today’s L’Aietta Rosso di Montalcino 2016 from Francisco Mulinari does it right, offering a pure, unadorned expression of Tuscan Sangiovese at its finest. This is a classic wine grown and made with old school methods, aromatic and deep garnet in colour, made only with Sangiovese grapes hand-harvested from 17-year-old vines from a very good vintage. It was fermented in stainless steel tanks with natural yeasts and aged for 12 months in large, old Slavonian oak barrels from northeastern Croatia called Botti. These impart little if any oak flavours and are used to encourage tertiary flavour development through oxygen exposure. Wines aged this way will develop more dried fruit, leather and flower flavours. This also allows the wine to retain its freshness and fruitiness and an intensity that only the Montalcino terroir can deliver. This is also a vegan wine as it was not filtered, fined or clarified. With a classic nose of cherry, tobacco, herbs and graphite and a velvety smooth palate, the ripe fruit is illuminated by soft-glow acidity, shaded by minerals and stealth tannins that turn more assertive on the spicy finish. This wine comes from Francisco’s 1-hectare vineyard in Castelnuovo dell’Abate and is produced in tiny quantities, less than 200 cases each vintage, of which our allotment was three.
Francesco Mulinari grew up in the old fortified town of Montalcino. He farms two vineyards: L’Aietta, which is one hectare, is located just outside the fortified walls of the town and is in prime Brunello territory, and Castelnuovo dell’Abate, also one hectare, to grow his Rosso wine. With an intense focus on his vineyards and religiously adhering to traditional methods in the cellar he produced his first vintage in 2001 when he was only 18 years old and still attending high school. Francesco went to oenology school after he graduated, took jobs at other wineries and worked on his steep, little vineyards. Along the way he also built a small, one-roomed cellar out of stone.
Francesco is the sort of winegrower we love. He’s young, dynamic and hard working. In 2001 at the age of 17 he decided to make wine from some abandoned Sangiovese vines growing on a one-hectare plot of land that his parents had acquired as a picnicking spot for the family. Located just outside the wall surrounding Montalcino, the spot, known as L’Aietta, had been the site of an army encampment during the 1555 siege of the city. His mother, when applying for a winegrowing permit for her son (he was underage), discovered that the land was within the Brunello di Montalcino appellation.
Francisco grew his first vintage in 2001 and it was officially a Brunello. In 2002 Francisco acquired another one-hectare vineyard of Sangiovese in nearby Castelnuovo dell’Abate. This is the home of today’s wine. Francisco’s farming is rigorously organic (certified in 2013) and manual, including on his steep L’Aietta vineyard with its 18 terraces, and in the cellar he’s a non-interventionist. His winery, the smallest in Montalcino, has very little technology; only barrels and tanks. Like us, he’s picky, and only grows wine that he enjoys to drink. While his production is small, his Brunellos and Rossos are classic, elegant renditions worthy of any of the old, established, traditional winegrowers of Montalcino.
L’Aietta Rosso di Montalcino 2016 is ready to be enjoyed now but will develop further over the next two years. Enjoy in a Burgundy stem at 17˚ with roasted veal chops and mushrooms. Cin Cin!