There are not many wine companies that can celebrate a 40 year anniversary and still look forward to a continuing story of success for many years to come. One such company is Banfi. I have always enjoyed their wines. In 1985 Michele and I visited the winery in Montalcino for the first time. When I am at the Vinitaly wine fair in Verona, I always make sure to visit the Banfi stand and in NYC I attend their wine tastings. Over the years I have come to know the people at Banfi and they are some of the nicest people in the wine business. Michele and I have become friends with many of them. When I was invited to a celebration of their 40th anniversary I was more than happy to attend.
Lars Leicht, Director of Trade Development, greeted me. Lars has been with Banfi for 33 years and he went along with me as I tasted the wines. All the wines that Banfi produced between 1978 and 2018 were available at the event. Lars said that when we finished tasting the wines in the upstairs room we would go downstairs where there were wines from the 1990’s.
I spoke with Cristina Mariani-May, President and CEO of Banfi Vintners and Family Proprietor of Castello Banfi, about the last 40 years. Here are some of the highlights:
1978 Villa Banfi was born in Montalcino
1979 Acquisition of Cantina Bruzzone in Strevi, Piemonte
1982 Initiation of the clonal research project on Sangiovese
1983 Acquisition of Castello di Poggio alla Mura which became a symbol of the estate
1984 Inauguration of the winery in Montalcino–a milestone for modern winemaking
1990 The vintage that changed the history of Montalcino
1992 Inauguration of the Glass and Bottle Museum
1997 First Vintage of “Poggio alle Mura” Brunello, result of 20 years of Sangiovese research.
2007 Publication of the “ The Pursuit of Excellence” study
2009 The use of the “light bottle” becomes reality
2014 Tuscan Estates: conclusion of the first phase of acquisition
2017 Birth of Sanguis Jovis–Sangiovese School
2018 40 years and the story continues.
The Wines: 1978/2018
1978/1988 Principessa Gavia, San Angelo Pinot Grigio, Fontanella Chardonnay, Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello, Summas, Florus, Poggio all’Oro Brunello
1988-1998: Chianti Classico Rsv, Centine Rosso, Le Rime, L’Ardi, ExcelsuS, Rosa Regale
1998-2008: Cuvée Aurora Rose, Poggio alla Mura Brunello, Chianti Superiore, Cum Laude BelnerO, La Lus
2008 to 2018; Rosso di Montalcino PAM, La Pettegola Vermentino, Brunello Riserva PAM Fonte alla Selva Gran Selezione, Stilnova, L’Altra, Cosi e Rose, Aska Bolgheri Rosso.
I asked Lars what the letters PAM stood for next to the Brunello and Rosso. He said it stands for Poggio alle Mura (the walled hilltop) the historical name of the Castello
Brunello di Montalcino 1998–This has always been one of my favorite Brunellos
The three wines above are drinking well now and could still last for a number of years.
“40” Quaranta-Celebration Wine Limited Edition. Lars said this is a wine which expresses Banfi’s 40-year history in Montalcino. Lars said it is a cuvee of red varietals selected from the best estate vineyards, from different yet complementary vintages and made from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
When I told Lars it was drinking very nicely, he said it was not for sale!