Castello Banfi, Montalcino's premier vineyard estate, has announced the April 2002 release of an unfiltered, single-vineyard version of the region's historic Brunello di Montalcino. The new offering is the result of over two decades of research in clonal selection for the varietal.
Called "Poggio alle Mura" to honor the historical name of the medieval fortress crowning the vineyard estate, the wine is produced as a cru, the French term implying that the grapes originate from one single vineyard, or growth. The cru runs down the slopes surrounding the castle today called Castello Banfi, and is planted with the final selection of six complementary clones (narrowed from an initial selection of 650) of Brunello combined to deliver a consistently superior wine. Since the mid-1980s, Castello Banfi, in conjunction with the University of Milan, has undertaken intensive clonal research on Sangiovese Brunello, including experimental vineyards and microvinification. The results isolated the few clones that, within the Montalcino microclimate, contribute the characteristics of a rich, forward Brunello without forsaking typicity or age worthiness. Poggio alle Mura is also Castello Banfi's first unfiltered wine, encompassing a full body and complexity unique to the genre.
Poggio alle Mura will retail in the US for approximately $70, compared to $50 for Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino and $115 for the estate's Poggio all'Oro, also a cru but vinified as a Riserva, signifying one additional year of aging before release. The debut will be with the stellar 1997 vintage, in a limited production of 3,000 6-bottle cases for world markets.
"Poggio alle Mura, in many senses, represents both a culmination of our efforts and our quest for continual improvement," said Cristina Mariani, family proprietor of the Castello Banfi estate. "It is a high point that we have reached, but our efforts to build a better Brunello will continue as we gauge the results not only of these clones in this vineyard, but many other hypothetical combinations on our estate."