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In the world of wine, sometimes change can be a game-changer. That's exactly what happened when new owners took the reins at Argiano, committing to bring back the classic essence of Brunello. With over $10 million invested in the estate and a decade of dedication, the result is nothing short of extraordinary. The Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2018, a beacon of tradition, has clinched the coveted Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year for 2023. Let's delve into the story of how a shift in ownership and a return to the roots of winemaking catapulted a historic winery to an apex winery.
A Change in Course
The story begins in 2013 when Brazilian billionaire André Esteves and a group of investors took the reins of Argiano, a historic winery in Montalcino, from Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano and winemaker Hans Vinding-Diers. This change in ownership marked a strategic shift back to the roots of Brunello winemaking, fueled by a commitment to tradition and excellence.
With an investment exceeding $10 million over a decade, the transformation of Argiano was not just a change of hands but a profound dedication to redefining the winemaking philosophy.
The Terroir of Argiano
Nestled on a plateau west of the village of Sant’Angelo in Colle, Argiano boasts a rich history dating back to 1581. The expansive estate spans 141 acres, with 54 acres dedicated to Brunello and 25 acres to Rosso di Montalcino. The northern vineyards, characterized by alluvial clay and loam, host the Sangiovese grape, while the southern part embraces international grape varieties.
Under the guidance of CEO Bernardino Sani, a former intern turned visionary leader, and with the expertise of consulting enologist Alberto Antonini, Argiano's team meticulously revitalized both the vineyards and the winemaking process.
Crafting Tradition in a Bottle
The transition to a more traditional winemaking style involved significant changes, starting with the restoration of the wine-aging cellar and the introduction of large casks to replace barriques. The vineyards underwent a detailed analysis, mapping soil types and compositions with the help of viticultural consultant Pedro Parra.
The result? A Brunello di Montalcino that reflects the essence of the land and the grape. The 2018 vintage, bottled in May 2022, encapsulates the classic character of Brunello with rose, strawberry, and cherry aromas. The decision to work organically, though uncertified, has enhanced uniformity in vegetative growth and grape quality.
Overcoming Challenges, Embracing Tradition
The 2018 vintage faced its share of challenges, including spring rains and a hailstorm in July. However, a north tramontana wind in September brought dry conditions, concentrating the grapes and creating optimal ripening conditions. The harvest, spanning from late September to early October, resulted in grapes of superb quality.
Bernardino Sani's vision to make Argiano an ambassador of Brunello di Montalcino has materialized through this dedication to tradition and quality. The 2018 vintage stands not only as a leading representation of the region but also as a beacon of the potential that lies in embracing the timeless traditions of winemaking.
In conclusion, the Argiano Brunello di Montalcino 2018 is a masterpiece born from a harmonious blend of tradition, investment, and a passionate commitment to excellence. As it rightfully claims the title of Wine Spectator's Wine of the Year in 2023, it invites wine enthusiasts to savor the rich tapestry of flavors that Montalcino's terroir has to offer, encapsulated in a bottle that transcends time and trends.
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