Touring around Tuscany while tasting Italian wine is a favorite pastime of mine and a popular choice with wine-lovers traveling to the region. One very well-known and lovely property, located in Montalcino is Banfi, owned by the Mariani family, who are known for bringing an American way of thinking to Montalcino.
I’ve known about and have sampled many a Banfi wine over the years, including their range of Chianti, Chianti Classico and Riserva. They have over 30 varietals. I was happy to try a few old favorites alongside some that I’ve never sampled before at a Banfi wine tasting dinner.
I was fascinated and highly engaged by the presentation given by the Banfi wine ambassador, who was in true Italian fashion – charming, witty, interesting and entertaining.
Some fun things I learned about the Banfi family, their property and Tuscan wine:
- Originally Banfi began as a wine importer in New York in 1919, but the family owned vineyard estate in Tuscany wasn’t established until 1978.
- Though the family is Mariani, the Banfi name was a nod to the creator’s Aunt, Theolinda Banfi, who had ties to the Pope. Reportedly, she is buried under Vatican City.
- 40 million year old whale fossils have been found on the property – a testament to the land, rich in clay and calcium on which the vines are planted
- Currently they also have an interest in Bollo and Fontana Candida.
- As well as vineyards in Tuscany, they also have vineyards in Piedmont and have other properties including in Chile.
- The family has been in the wine business for 93 years
- Banfi is the first winery in the world recognized for exceptional Environmental, Social & Ethical Responsibility
- Banfi introduced Lambrusco to the US Market in 1967. Reunite anyone? Yep, that was and is still them.
- Turns out that Super Tuscan is a made up name, not a an actual Italian wine classification and therefore has no actual restrictions. It’s describes a blend of Tuscan grapes – usually Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot
During the tasting and dinner with wine pairings that followed, I had the privilege of tasting a selection of about ten different Banfi wines. Below are a few of them, along with notes and pairings.
1. San Angelo Pinot Grigio 2010. Light straw color, with flavors of pear,peach and anise. Pairs well with fish, white meats. Great aperitivo.
2. Centine Rosso 2009. A value priced Super Tuscan. Pairs with a wide range of cheese, pasta, pizza, roasts and game
3. Brunello di Montalcino, 2006 DOCG. Stellar and complex red, aged for four years, two of those in Slavonian oak. It’s full-bodied, elegant, intense and luscious. Deep ruby-red in color with hints of garnet, it tastes of licorice, cassis and black cherry. Clearly one of the most expensive Tuscan wines. Enjoy Brunello with game, red meat and aged hearty cheese.
For a similar wine, at a lesser price, try the younger brother Rosso di Montalcino, often referred to as baby Brunello.
4. Rosa Regale 2o10. A sweet sparkling red wine which is made from 100% Brachetto grapes from the Piedmont region and harvested early in the morning. It’s a bright cranberry color and tastes of rose and raspberry. Perfect for an aperitivo or dessert and should be served chilled. Goes well with seafood, cheeses, spicy food and even chocolate.
5. Floras Moscadello di Montalcino DOC Late Harvest. An untuous sweet dessert wine with a golden color. Tastes of raisin, honey and dried-apricots. Other than dessert, try it with savory appetizers.
The Banfi estate itself is gorgeous. The medieval castle, known as Poggio al Mura, ‘walled castle’, has ancient Etruscan roots. Left in ruins after World War II, the Mariani family restored the castle. Perched high upon a hilltop, surrounded by green rolling hills and perfect vines, the castle is the perfect setting for wine tours and tastings; or overnight stays in the charming guest rooms at, Il Borgo.
Over 7,000 acres of vines are also littered with fruit, nut and olive trees, all of which play a role in the flavor imparted on the wines. You can see and hear more about their history and the property in this video tour.
Interested in touring vineyards and tasting wine in Tuscany? Click here to get in touch, I’d love to arrange something for you!