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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

The Style

“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?

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Vintage 2013

Kerin O’Keefe

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.

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The Sangiovese Whisperer - Alessandro Mori's 'Il Marroneto' Brunellos

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About the Wines

2015 Rosso di Montalcino

Both the regular Brunello and the Rosso start their life back at the winery as Brunellos, but during their maturation journey, Alessandro will make the decision to declassify a number of botti, resulting in a small release of Rosso di Montalcino. This 2015 is a great example. Prior to fermentation, the grapes spend around 2 days in steel with regular stirring, followed by a slow ferment/maceration for 3 weeks. The fruit is moved into large Slavonian and French botti for 24 months then racked off and left to settle in steel for a brief period, before bottling and release into the market. Reflecting a slightly warmer vintage, there’s a power and generosity in both fruit and tannin.

2013 Brunello di Montalcino

In the early stages, the process to Alessandro’s ‘normale’ Brunello is exactly the same as for his Rosso mentioned above. As we move up the tree, one of the key philosophies at Il Marroneto is lengthy spells in oak. For the Brunello, this is usually around 39 months and it is released into the market at no less than 4 years of age. With a classic muscular frame, the 2013 builds wonderful layers of fragrant fruits with some air.

96 Points

Inviting aromas of wild red berry, new leather, rose petal, crushed herb and cake spice abound on this fragrant red. The radiant, elegant palate doles out succulent Marasca cherry, raspberry compote, cinnamon and licorice while firm, glossy tannins and racy acidity lend an age-worthy structure and balance. Drink 2023–2033.

94 Points

Il Marroneto's 2013 Brunello di Montalcino is a beautiful wine and one that invites you to partake in a long evening of good food and even better company. This is a deeply convivial expression of Sangiovese that offers just a glimmer of much-needed informality and coziness to guarantee comfort. But make no mistake, this Brunello reminds you of its pedigree and precision as well. The bouquet opens to white cherry, fragrant rose blossom and violets. The finish is smooth and pliable, with graceful endnotes of smoke and crushed mineral.

Monica Larner

2013 ‘Madonna delle Grazie’ Brunello di Montalcino

Sitting at the highest part of the estate at around 450 metres, this single site has the oldest vines on the property and takes its name from the little church just above the vineyard. This Brunello ‘grand cru’, as Alessandro refers to it, takes a different path to his other two wines. Once picking is complete, all the fruit is placed into large wooden vats and sees no agitation or stirring before fermentation – the fruit is simply left to kick off on its own. The fermentation/maceration lasts for about 3 weeks, then the wine is racked off into botti and left for 41 months.

95 Points

Earthy aromas of underbrush, truffle, game and new leather meld with ripe berry and a whiff of blue flower. Reflecting the nose, the savory palate is loaded with personality, delivering crushed raspberry, black cherry, clove, aromatic herb and a distinct but intriguing gamy note alongside a backbone of assertive, fine-grained tannins. Vibrant acidity lends balance. Open this way in advance to give it time to breathe. Drink 2023–2038.

97 Points

Sangiovese-whisperer Alessandro Mori has delivered another superstar wine with the 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Madonna Delle Grazie. The bouquet is detailed and fine with bright accents of fragrant red rose, red currant, cola, licorice, grilled herb and crushed white peppercorn. The bouquet is loose, light and buoyant, with a smooth and natural progression of building aromas. The mouthfeel, however, is direct, important and determined. It's that playful juxtaposition between the wine's soft side and its stern side that makes this such an interesting and sensational wine to drink. Only 5,993 bottles were produced, and that's the bad news.

Monica Larner