The Biondi-Santi family is credited with isolating the BBS11 clone of Sangiovese that led to the creation of the Brunello di Montalcino DOCG in the late 19th century, and to this day, the estate produces some of the most rigorously traditional and ageworthy wines of the appellation. In a recent Decanter article, it was announced that Biondi-Santi is preparing to release a special-edition 2012 Riserva Brunello to honor the late Franco Biondi Santi, the estate’s head winemaker from 1970 until his passing in 2013. During his tenure, Franco developed Biondi-Santi’s critically-acclaimed style of elegant, austere wines that stand in contrast to many of the heavily extracted, fruit-driven Brunellos of modernity.
Biondi-Santi has only produced a total of 39 Riserva Brunellos since 1888, and while the 2012 release marks the end of an era, it also heralds a new strategy: releasing their notoriously tannic Riserva only when the estate considers it ready to drink. In our view, this wine represents a prime example of what we call “the artist is dead'' phenomenon in fine wine - essentially, that the final release of a legendary winemaker will generate serious demand among collectors. Because of this, we predict that this will be a wine to watch in 2020, so stay tuned for the release of Biondi-Santi’s 2012 Riserva in March.