The warm sun on your shoulders. Shutters hanging open to the breeze and dusty cobblestone passageways snaking through the shade and the light. Your weary feet find the will to continue onward. Onward and upward through the streets of a place known only by name but whose sounds and glories are forgotten and buried with those that lived them. A trip to Tuscany can be both incredibly enlightening and simultaneously heart-wrenching. It’s hard and painful to explain this dichotomy to the uinitiated. It’s painful to discuss at all.
As one drives through Tuscany’s tranquil landscape and explores her imposing hillside settlements you are truly caught between two worlds. One world is fleetingly intoxicating. It spins tales of medieval goings and doings whose grandeur induces wide-eyed amazement and a desperate grasp at the inexperiencable. The other world is a sobering one. Streets that are full with the din of tourist voices find a way to feel alarmingly silent. The echoes of past lives bounce from the stone facades and ricochet off of the visitors that admire them, unable to be fully absorbed because they are long since lived. I wish, with all my being that we might truly be able to know what a place like Montalcino felt like, sounded like -perhaps not smelled like- and WAS like hundreds of years ago when it still was writing the stories that we now comfort ourselves with today.
And it is in the depths of this inner turmoil that I’m reminded of one of wine’s great qualities: it’s ability to transport us into the palates and tastes of the past. I will never know what it was like to live in Tuscany over a hundred years ago; when it still thrived with a local culture unconcerned with the presentation it must make to a global audience. But with the wines of producers like Biondi-Santi, I can step into a moment of timelessness and feel satisfied knowing that the past itself has become a part of my personal experience.
When I thought about how to extoll the wines of Biondi-Santi to you all in this article, I found myself seeking to repeat much of what can easily be discovered through basic research. This winery, and the individuals that bore it into existence quite literally founded the region of Brunello di Montalcino, and through their approaching ~200 year history have embodied the indentity of quality, tradition, and longevity. But, I thought it more compelling to impress upon you the way these wines make people feel in a world where history is becoming the only currency which cannot be counterfeited. You should drink and collect the wines of Biondi-Santi not because of how well they are received and not because they represent a symbol of vinous status, but rather because there are fleeting opportunities in life to experience things that are truly iconic. Don’t let the past slip away from you. Drink it in. The streets of Tuscany will feel alive to you in a way they never have before.
Biondi-Santi makes a small portfolio of several wines that we represent in-depth at Vinopolis. Whether you’re seeking to bask in a classic Montalcino Rosso over dinner, or drink to history with the Brunello and Brunello Riserva while watching the fading sun, you won’t be wrong. Tasting and comparing these wines side by side is an opportunity in wine education that should not be passed up.
Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany 2018 750ml $99 special, 40 bottles availableWine Advocate 94 points
“Elegant, graceful and fine, the Biondi-Santi 2018 Rosso di Montalcino offers a delicate approach to the senses and it spreads over the palate with polished and silky intensity. The acidity is elevated in this vintage. A handful of historic producers in Montalcino are bringing the Rosso category up to the next level, and the venerable house of Biondi-Santi is one of them. This was a somewhat unusual vintage with prolonged cool spells alternating with moments of intense heat. However, this wine shows even ripening and is quite vibrant and tangy in terms of its acidity. In spectacular Sangiovese style, the wine ends with lingering tones of wild cherry, sweet earth, potting soil and perfumed violet.”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Rosso di Montalcino, Tuscany 2019 750ml $109 special, 12 bottles availableWine Advocate 95 points
“This flight of three Biondi-Santi wines starts off on the right foot thanks to the pristine bouquet and lively fruit of the 2019 Rosso di Montalcino. This is the entry-level wine (although the price point certainly suggests otherwise). It shows very detailed and chiseled aromas of wild cherry, cassis, dried violet, rust and orange skin. The wine carries a strong structural frame; however, the mouthfeel is ethereal and light notwithstanding.”James Suckling 94 points
“Aromas of sliced citrus, cherry and flowers follow through to a medium body, with creamy tannins and crunchy fruit at the finish. Lovely combination of fruit and acidity. Very drinkable now but will age nicely. (10/5/22)”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2007 750ml $249 special, 1 bottles availableJames Suckling 95 points
“The nose is full of flowers and berries with dark cherries and ripe strawberries. Hints of flowers too. It’s full-bodied, with wonderful structure with bright acidity. Super clean and beautiful. Very pure and firm. Needs to age for a long time. Classic wine. Try in 2015.”Wine Advocate 94 points
“The 2007 Brunello di Montalcino is gorgeous. The estate’s preference for picking on the early side is one of the factors that help balance some of the fleshiness of the vintage. This is an especially silky, supple Brunello from Biondi-Santi. The overt personality of the year comes through, but not at the expense of the house’s style. Floral notes reappear to frame the elegant, expressive finish. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2037.”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2012 750ml $169 special, 9 bottles availableWine Enthusiast 96 points
“Underbrush, ripe berry, new leather and Mediterranean herb aromas slowly take shape in the glass. Showing youthful tension, the vibrant palate delivers red cherry, pomegranate, white pepper and pipe tobacco notes framed by bright acidity and taut, refined tannins. It already shows great balance and finesse but is still young and tight. Drink 2022-2035.”James Suckling 95 points
“Love the dried lemon rind, florals and red fruits. Medium to full body and a solid core of fruit and spices. Long and flavorful finish. Just a hint of sweet tobacco. Better in 2020.”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2016 750ml $235 special, 8 bottles available#23 Top 100 Cellar Selections 2022 – Wine Enthusiast
Wine Enthusiast 98 points
“Cellar Selection. Aromas of rose petal, dark spice, woodland berries and camphor form the nose on this fragrant, elegant wine. Loaded with finesse, the linear, savory palate features red cherry, orange zest, star anise and black tea alongside tightly wound, fine-grained tannins. Bright acidity keeps it impeccably balanced. It’s still youthfully austere, with fantastic aging potential. Drink 2026–2041. -Kerin O’Keefe”Wine Advocate 97+ points
“From a benchmark vintage, the Biondi-Santi 2016 Brunello di Montalcino reveals a gorgeous appearance with medium concentration highlighted by shiny hues of garnet and dark ruby. The first thing you notice is the compact dark fruit and rather robust textural fiber and power presented here. You almost bite into this wine, and you taste some fine grain linked to the young tannins. That, with the fresh acidity that is the hallmark signature of this estate, guarantees long cellar aging, and I would put my money on this vintage for long-long-term longevity. The fruit is compact and supple with dried cherry, blue flower, iron ore and candied orange peel. There is tobacco, balsam herb and gardening soil in a supporting role, and the wine is beautifully fleshed out but also rich in this balanced growing season. It surely needs more time to come together with pinpoint precision, but the wine’s elegance is a certainty.”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Brunello di Montalcino DOCG, Tuscany 2017 750ml $249 special, 12 bottles availablePRE-ARRIVAL EARLY JUNE
Wine Advocate 96 points
“A delicately sweet note of fresh summer cherry is a precursor to budding complexity and a very articulate bouquet that opens quickly in the glass. Immediately pleasing fruit is a characteristic of the 2017 growing season that had above average temperatures and drought throughout the summer. The resistant 2017 Brunello di Montalcino takes on these challenges without missing a beat. The wine’s celebrated acidity and its small berry nuances remain intact. The tannins are silky and the wine’s flavors fade slowly even after you have taken your last sip.”James Suckling 96 points
“Sweet berry orange peel cedar bark and forest flower aromas follow through to a medium to full body with linear and fine tannins and a crunchy undertone. It?s very subtle and fresh for a 2017. Crisp and vivid. It?s refined and acid-driven. Needs three to four years more to soften. Try after 2026.”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2008 750ml $649 special, 1 bottles availableWine Advocate 94 points
“The delightful 2008 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is expressive and feminine with crushed chamomile, forest fruit, bramble, tar and licorice. It renders a stirring, melodic performance that plays out slowly but with determination. Drink: 2017-2030.Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2011 750ml $459 special, 13 bottles availableWine Enthusiast 96 points
“Beautifully balanced, this opens with alluring scents of wild berry, rose, baking spice and whiffs of chopped herb. Seamlessly combining ripe fruit and the firm’s trademark finesse, the bright elegantly structured palate delivers juicy wild cherry, crushed raspberry, white pepper and a hint of black tea framed in polished tannins and fresh acidity. It’s already tempting but the best is yet to come. Drink 2021–2031.”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 750ml $599 special, 1 bottles availableWine Advocate 97 points
“You will notice the dedication printed below the label of the wine label. It reads: “Dedicato a Franco Biondi Santi.” Indeed, the Biondi-Santi 2012 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is the last vintage made by the towering father figure of Brunello whom most everyone referred to as the “gentleman of Montalcino.” Il Dottore, as he was also respectfully addressed, died at age 91 in April 2013, and he was very active in the winery as this magnificent wine took shape. This Riserva is a true work of beauty. It is released one year later than usual. The wine reflects the natural heft and power of the 2012 vintage, and it also shows that distinctive open-knit and accessible personality that characterizes this warm and sunny growing season. Il Dottore’s magic touch is revealed in the level of fine detail and precision that transcends vintage, grape and territory. That extreme focus is an achievement of this estate alone located in the celebrated Il Greppo property. This Brunello pours from the bottle with a magnificent garnet color, and it evolves in the glass with dark fruit, candied orange peel, spice, licorice, anise seed, cola and balsam herb. The aromas are magical and ethereal, albeit slightly ripe and soft as expected of this vintage.”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2013 750ml $649 special, 1 bottles availableWine Advocate 98 points
“The Biondi-Santi 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is a stunning wine from all points of view. Seamless integration and elegant complexity are what stand out, and it’s worth dedicating a few extra lines to the aromatic depth that is put so beautifully on display as the wine slowly unfolds. The bouquet starts off with wild cherry, earth, wet ash, crème de cassis and pruny chocolate. With extra time, there are hints of dried tobacco leaf, sandalwood and mossy forest floor. These lead to a fine tail of dried herb, bay leaf and a touch of rusty nail. The Riserva comes in numbered bottles, and I opened number 04277. To the palate, the wine is streamlined and silky with smooth tannins and a well-managed 13.5% alcohol content. The oak presence is reduced to a minimum, offering mild hints of spice and the delicate sandalwood or dried fig aroma I described above. Fresh acidity is the glue that gives the wine buoyancy and staying power. At this young stage, this 2013 vintage could be considered a bit shy or slow to start, but this will play out to great advantage in the long term as the wine continues its bottle evolution.”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 750ml $749 special, 6 bottles availablePRE-ARRIVAL EARLY JUNEWine Advocate 99 points
“Wow, here is a vintage I’ve been anxiously waiting to try. The 2016 growing season was one of the best in recent memory in Montalcino, and if we look back in time, this vintage marks the year Biondi-Santi was sold to a French group. The prestigious 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva proves a mighty collector’s bottle that will undoubtedly gain in complexity and depth with careful bottle age. The wine offers wild nuances of forest berry and tart cherry, and there are herbal side notes as well as floral tones of dried violet and lilac. The tannins are soft, powdery and feel like they melt away on the palate.”James Suckling 98 points
“Aromas of strawberries flowers fresh mushroom forest flower sandalwood and hints of balsamic. Full-bodied and tight on the finish. This is a linear and fine-tannined red. Available in March 2023. Needs another five years or so to show its full potential. New classic. Better after 2026.”Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo Riserva, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 1983 750ml $1199 special, 1 bottles available***Winery Cellared Release***
Wine Advocate 96 points
“[Reviewed July 2021] This precious bottle is part of Biondi-Santi’s late-release program for collectors (I tasted bottle number 10,723). The 1983 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva is showing beautifully on its aging timeline, although this bottle is slightly more evolved since I last tasted this vintage in 2019 before the pandemic. With slow and measured determination, the bouquet embraces dried fig, cured bresaola, burnt caramel, wet campfire, dried oregano and a familiar aroma that reminds me of the Florence leather market. However, there is a lot of life and vertical lift in this Riserva, thanks in great part to the beautiful freshness that keeps the tannins alive and adds a pop of pretty acidity to the close. The wine shows its age with pride and grace, and the final results are quite spectacular. In fact, I’m opening the drinking window up by an additional five years thanks to the latitude and depth shown here.”