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Biondi Santi is famous for inventing Brunello di Montalcino, one of Tuscany's most famous wines. The Santi family has been producing wine on their ancestral land for centuries. The first wine described as Brunello was created by Clemente Santi in 1869, but the style wouldn't be codified until his nephew Ferruccio Biondi Santi began breeding sangiovese grapes to withstand pests like oidium and phylloxera that decimated Tuscan wine production in the mid-1800's. Ferruccio's plan to make red wines intended for long aging ran counter to most Tuscan wine producers of his time, who simple wines z intended to be consumed young.
Biondi Santi is the only winemaker to produce Brunello continuously since the 1800's, and consequently their wine has had a place in some important historical events. During World War II, the Santi family hid their prized bottles in a secret cellar to prevent them from being stolen by Nazi soldiers. The family's wine was virtually unknown outside of Italy until it impressed Queen Elizabeth II and other dignitaries at a banquet in 1969. The press coverage of that banquet made Brunello a highly desirable wine in the international community. Biondi Santi increased production dramatically in 1970s and 1980s to keep up with demand. The company is currently run by Franco Biondi Santi, a direct descendant of Ferruccio.
The company produces two bottlings of Brunello: an Annatta, made primarily from newer vines, and a Reserva, made primarily with grapes from the oldest vines on the estate. The Riserva bottlings are more desirable. All of Biondi Santi's wines are made from 100 percent Sangiovese Grosso grapes.
Brunello is made to improve when aged for a long time. It takes decades for Biondi Santi's wines to reach their full potential, so older vintages are prized. 1964, 1968, 1971 and 1975 are all considered superb vintages. The company's most prized wine in the 1955 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva. This is the exact wine served to Elizabeth II in 1969 that put this style on the map.
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