Il Poggione is one of the oldest wineries in Brunello di Montalcino. Founded by the Franceschi family in 1890, it is now run by the fifth generation of the Franceschi family, Leopoldo and Livia. The generational lineage continues not just with the owners but with the winemakers as well. Alessandro Bindocci is the fourth generation winemaker at Il Poggione, where he combines modern winemaking techniques to the tried and true traditions of Montalcino. The wines of Il Poggione are considered to be some of the best from Montalcino and even the best in the world.
I had the opportunity to meet Alessandro Bindocci over lunch in New York City. It was a very personal one on one lunch with a vertical tasting of his last three vintages. He was confident and charming with a passion for wine that was infectious.
Alessandro is the fourth generation of the Bindocci family to work at Il Poggione. His great-grandfather started working with the Franceschi family since the very beginning. His father Fabrizio Bindocci began in 1976, taking over reigns as winemaker from the legendary Piero Talenti.
Alessandro has a degree in oenology and viticulture from the University of Pisa. After having interned at a few wineries during his studies, he became winemaker at Il Poggione in 2005. Alessandro knew that he wanted to be a winemaker from a very young age. He worked with his father in the vineyards of Il Poggione since he was a child, instilling in him a deep respect for its history, tradition and terroir.
Working with older vines and large barrels, Alessandro is passionate about the traditions of the region. He has also brought in modern machinery to help with the winemaking process. There has been great investments in technology at Il Poggione, but Alessandro says it is still all about the care of the vineyards, “great wines are made in the vineyards not in the cellar”. The wines of Il Poggione are the purest, terroir driven expression of Sangiovese.
Our lunch together came the day after the big Benvenuto Brunello event in NYC, where the press and trade had the first opportunity to taste the 2014 vintage of Brunello di Montalcino. Many have deemed 2014 to be a poor and difficult vintage. It was a year where the talents, skills and expertise of the winemakers really stood out. The wines of Il Poggione exhibited grace and elegance in a tough vintage.
During the 2014 growing season Alessandro was active in the vineyards; managing the canopy, dropping fruit and hand picking selectively. Gentle extraction and two-year barrel aging(versus the typical three years) were the prime reasons he was able to produce an exceptional Brunello in 2014 that was elegant and balanced.
Vertical Tasting of Three Vintages with Alessandro
2012 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino – As soon as Alessandro poured this wine I knew I was in for a treat. I had heard a lot about this vintage and I knew it was something very special. In 2012 they experienced a hot and dry summer, so location and age of vines made all the difference. The vines are a minimum 25 years old, so they have deep roots and can survive a drought more easily than younger vines.
This is a big muscle wine with beautiful rich fruit and bright acidity. A wine with lots of energy and personality. Leather, spice and tobacco fill the palate. The wine has volume, depth and richness. A memorable finish that leaves you begging for more. Simply superb!!
2013 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino – The wine started off tight, but then opened up and evolved in the glass. The nose is intense and spicy. The wine had great structure and balance, exuding elegance and freshness. There are silky tannins coating the palate with a savory finish. This is a wine that shows strength and great potential to age.
2014 Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino – Having tasted many of the 2014 Brunellos the day before at Benvenuto Brunello, I knew Il Poggione was my favorite from the lineup. The wine exudes grace and elegance, which was challenging in a difficult year. Alessandro is very proud of the end result, and so he should be. The vintage was one of the coolest and wettest in recent years, yet the wine is fresh and elegant.
The 2014 is very approachable and drinking well right now. It will evolve and continue to improve in the bottle for the next couple of years. The wine has notes of cherries and blueberries with bright acidity and soft tannins. Alessandro suggests a slightly shorter drinking window for this vintage, possibly 6-8 years.
No matter what vintage you look at, Alessandro’s wines have elegance and finesse with solid structure and backbone. As we concluded our lunch, I asked him when he is not drinking Brunello di Montalcino, what is in his glass? He likes to drink Barolo(the big classic old school Barolo), Amarone and Champagne. He says he is lucky as he gets to travels a lot, giving him the opportunity to drink great wines from around the world.
Il Poggione produces iconic Brunellos that are consistently impressive and cellar worthy. The wines are elegant and focused. The care taken in the vineyards and the cellars show in every vintage. You have to try a bottle or two…..or even a case. The wines are spectacular, from a historic winery with a highly regarded yet humble winemaker.
*** Pictures 1-4 Courtesy Il Poggione***