About ‘Il Marroneto
Established in 1974 by Siena lawyer Giuseppe Mori, Il Marroneto takes its name from the central building of the cellar, which dates back to 1250. As the story goes, the nuns of the nearby Madonna delle Grazie convent used the Marroneto to dry chestnuts for flour to bake bread for weary pilgrims walking the infamous Via Francigena to Rome.
Fast forward to the 20th Century, the nuns are gone but the cantina’s first wines, the 1976 vintage, were made by Mori’s sons, Alessandro and Andrea, inside this classified building. Both sons had followed Giuseppe’s career path, but Alessandro in particular was bitten by the winemaking bug, travelling the globe and eventually returning to Il Marroneto full time from 1993.
“Alessandro Mori is the Sangiovese whisperer.” – Monica Larner, Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate
“There is no doubt that knowledgeable Brunello fans consider Il Marroneto to be one of the top dozen or so estates in Montalcino today. This is because over the last ten years especially (i.e., the wines of the 21st century), with the increasing age of its vines, Il Marroneto has been the source of some of the purest, most perfumed and most archetypal renditions of sangiovese made anywhere.
Il Marroneto produces a very refined Brunello di Montalcino that showcases pungent floral aromas, sneaky concentration and a strongly mineral personality. Unfortunately, the estate’s wines are often penalized in blind tastings due to their high natural acidity and apparent lack of flesh. A single-vineyard Brunello, named Madonna delle Grazie, is also made in the best years; though it offers much greater concentration and a more textured mouthfeel than the “regular” Brunello di Montalcino, even the cru bottling is never one of the bigger, thicker wines of Montalcino.” – Ian d’Agata, Vinous.com
In the Vineyard
Il Marroneto is ideally located to the north of the appellation, sitting at around 450 metres, affording a mesoclimate with a large diurnal shift that sets the scene for the vibrant, pure and precise nature of the wines. Additional plantings took place in 1975, these provide fruit for the revered ‘Madonna delle Grazie’, with the remaining following in 1977 and 1982-83, taking land under vine to 5.8 hectares at a density of 3,400 vines/ha.
Without wanting to open up a can of worms, climate conditions have been warming up in Italy, as well as other parts of Europe, and the more we travel to Tuscany, the more I feel that site, exposure and altitude (amongst other things) will play a vital role in the success of wineries – especially from a varietal and regional point of view. Montalcino is a notable example of this. Many of the lower-lying sites are arguably becoming a little too warm, which is reflecting in the wines being too thick and broad, missing out on some of the high-toned fruits. Alessandro’s vineyard sits high on the hill, just below the commune of Montalcino on the northern side, with perfect south exposure facing back towards Siena. Possibly the ideal location?
“Il Marroneto, a tiny 6ha estate on the northern side of Montalcino, has emerged as a major player. Alessandro Mori crafts uncompromisingly traditional Brunellos of real pedigree. The straight Brunello is a bit more classically austere than the Madonna delle Grazie parcel selection, which is richer, deeper and darker. Readers who have not tasted these Brunellos yet owe it to themselves to do so.” — Antonio Galloni, Vinous.com
In the Winery
Alessandro Mori’s approach is simple and focused with a staunch view to tradition. The approach in the vineyard is distinctly hands off, with no chemical treatments and no tilling having taken place since 1988. Winemaking follows a similar path, with natural ferments, no fining and no filtration. A 48-hour maceration with regular pump-overs occurs after a partial destemming. No temperature control is used during fermentation, with temperatures often rising to 37°C – truly old school. Ageing is in large botti of French and Slavonian origin. The resultant wines show a clarity of colour, great depth of perfume and taut acidity with detail and precision across the mineral inflected palates. This high-toned nature belies the underlying concentration, which will see these wines march gracefully through time. Today, the estate sits among the most highly regarded in Montalcino.
Where in the World do they Come From?
If you want to experience the energy, elegance and ageworthy structure that first drew wine lovers and collectors to Brunello di Montalcino decades ago, then 2013 is your vintage. A classic vintage, the best 2013s boast remarkable aging potential not seen in years. The top wines are stunning, with a radiance missed in many of the muscular, more approachable and higher alcohol Brunellos from recent vintages. The 2013s will require patience to reach their maximum potential. Unlike the extremely warm, dry years that have become the norm in Montalcino since the mid-1990s (exceptions include 1998, 2002 and 2005), the 2013 vintage was a blast from the past. It was a cool year, with abundant rainfall in spring and the first part of the summer. Careful vineyard management was needed to keep the grapes free of disease. The 2013 growing season proved incredibly long and slow. Cooler temperatures prevailed in September and the first half of October, and the grapes benefitted from ample sunshine and breezy conditions. It produced fragrant, medium-bodied wines loaded with finesse. The best are impeccably balanced, with vibrant acidity and firm but noble tannins.