Corte dei Venti

The red soils of Montalcino give rise to the heavyweights of Brunello. Massive bodied wines with gem-like pigments, and deep concentrations of mature fruit. But these red sandy soils are rare. They’re only found in the Southern part of Montalcino. And even then, only a few producers have them. Corte dei Venti is a small family vineyard with a focus on artisanal Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. Female-owned and operated, Clara Di Monaci lives and breathes Brunello.

The Hunt For Red Gold In Montalcino

Why You’ll Love Corte dei Venti

An ocean of red gold was blowing waves of perfumes. Being seduced I thought I was going to fall into my glass. What a Brunello di Montalcino! 

Most Brunello’s don’t start to get interesting until they are 10-years-old. Often times, in their youth, Brunello’s are no better than high end table wine. 

This one was young and bombastic. When it landed, the finish had a long runway. The red gem color was commanding. It should be converted into royal jewelry.

The Brunello was like a musical composition. A beginning, middle, and end with variations in between. 

It’s been a long road in my quest for the finest artisan wines across Italy. I’m more inclined to take the less-travelled road when I’m hunting for red gold. And I’ve been fortunate to have found little treasures with that method.

Montalcino was a mission that I had been putting off for some time. In part because Brunello di Montalcino is one of the most famous wines in the world. And that path has been beaten wide. 

That’s why I kept questioning myself. Are there any treasures left in Montalcino to be found? 

So I sharpened my pencil. I opened the map. And I polished my wine glass. 

Below you’ll hear about a special family estate in Montalcino I found that makes incredibly dynamic Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. 

1. Brunello di Montalcino Geography And History

2. The Origin Of The Name Brunello di Montalcino

3. Climate: From Macro To Micro in Montalcino

4. Corte dei Venti in Montalcino And The Secret Sauce

5. Corte dei Venti Cellar And Vinification

6. Confluence Of Nature In Montalcino

1. Brunello di Montalcino Geography And History

Montalcino is the kingdom of noble wine. One of Tuscany’s most prized possessions is this little city on a shining hill. 

It’s the home of Brunello di Montalcino. Not only one of Italy’s great wines, but also one of the world’s greatest wines. 

The borders of this city form the shape of a square. And it’s largely outlined by three rivers: Orcia, Asso e Ombrone.  

That makes the appellation difficult geographically to expand outward. 

It’s often the case when a wine obtains notoriety, the appellation will widen. Or a new appellation will be created to allow more vineyards to produce more wine. 

But Montalcino is locked inside those three rivers.

Why does this matter? 

If you’d allow anyone to make Brunello di Montalcino outside of its historical origins, then the identity of the wine will fade. There’s criteria that must be met for a wine of importance like BDM and the location of the vineyard is vital. 

It’s a big win to preserving the authenticity of such a big name. That’s often not the case for other grand wines.  

Winemaking here can be traced back to the time of the Etruscans. Why they chose this area to make wine is the same reason why the Tuscans make wine there today. There’s a confluence of terrain, climate, and Sangiovese. 

Sangiovese is the most abundant grape in Italy. It can be found in wines from the North to the South of the Italian peninsula. 

2. The Origin Of The Name Brunello di Montalcino

But in Montalcino, they call the grape Brunello because it’s a unique type of Sangiovese. And when cultivated in its native origin Brunello achieves its highest form of expression and age-ability. Its best vintages can age for decades in the bottle. 

The origin of the name Montalcino is somewhat debated. Some say the name comes from the latin words “Mons Lucinus” which means Mount Lucina. A mountain dedicated to the roman goddess Lucina or Juno. The goddess of light. 

But the consensus believes the name derives from “Mons Ilicinus” or “Mount of Holm Oak,” is more likely due to the abundance of this noble oak tree found in the area. 

Montalcino is a small mountain with countless hills on top of it. And on each of those hills you’ll find Brunello vineyards. 

3. Climate: From Macro To Micro in Montalcino

Most wine media speak of the differences between the Northern and Southern sections of Montalcino and how that impacts the style of Brunello.

But it’s much richer than that. 

The truth is that the hills of Montalcino vary greatly in elevation. Between 120 and 650 meters above sea level. That’s quite a wide range. 

This means there are countless micro climates that would impact the wine style and quality. Think of it like 50 shades of Brunello. 

And we can speak about generalities in terms of the marked cherry fruit, full body, and long aging in the bottle. Which Brunello is known for. 

But in reality a Brunello di Montalcino may or may not be what you’d expect. It depends on the micro climate and terrain of the vineyard. 

4. Corte dei Venti in Montalcino

One such micro environment that caught my attention is the location of a small family vineyard called Corte dei Venti. 

Their estate vineyards are located in one of the most southern points of Montalcino. 

The winery is literally named after it’s micro environment. Corte dei Venti means “Court of the Winds.” 

That’s because the wind blows across their vineyards 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

One day I called the estate owner Clara di Monaci on the phone. She happened to be in the vineyard at the time. I could hear the winds blowing hard. So much so that I could barely hear Clara talking. It sounded like she was in the middle of a windstorm. 

As it turns out, these winds are part of the secret sauce to making fine Brunello di Montalcino. 

The winds transport rich minerals from the Mediterranean Sea to the soils. The winds also prevent disease from spreading to the vines. So they keep the vineyards healthy. 

Clara di Monaci is the inheritor of her family’s estate winery in Montalcino, established in 1943. 

Her maternal grandfather purchased the Piancornello farm which is now called Corte dei Venti. 

Clara lives and breathes Brunello. 

She works hard everyday ensuring the dream of her ancestors is realized. To create legendary Brunello di Montalcino wines that tell the story of this special place in every bottle. Each vintage represents a new chapter in this grander story. 

Their Brunello di Montalcino Riserva called “Donna Elena,” is named after Clara’s daughter who will be the future owner of the estate. It’s only produced for the best vintages at around 1,000 bottles. It’s a real treat. 

The vineyards are located on slopes between 100 and 300 meters above sea level and face the south-east side which gets more sunshine in Montalcino than just about anywhere else in the area. This is great for the maturation of grapes and gives their wines mouthwatering ripe fruit. 

The vineyards also overlook the landscapes of Monte Amiata, another important micro environment factor. Monte Amiata is a tall mountain over 1700 meters above sea level. And it protects the vineyards from extreme hailstorms that could potentially destroy them. 

We hear all the time about the natural disasters that destroy the vineyards in places like Napa Valley. That simply doesn’t happen in Montalcino. 

Clara’s vineyards also lay on steep hilly terrain, rich in ferrous limestone clay, and well endowed with minerals. This soil composition is what gives it a bright red color. 

That’s why the estate’s Toscano Rosso blend is called “Le Terre Rosse” or “The Red Lands,” referring to the red sandy soils.

The inside scoop in Montalcino is that producers are seeking out this soil type. 

That’s because it produces Brunello grapes that make the wine big, powerful, perfumed, complex, and deeply concentrated. Everything that wine lovers are looking for in a Brunello.

The red soil of Montalcino is very rare. It’s only found in the Southern part of the appellation. But even then, only a few producers have access to it. 

I don’t know if Clara’s grandfather knew how rich the land was when he bought it but it appears he struck red gold.  

In this terrain and under these climatic conditions Sangiovese, trained with spurred cordon, finds one of its greatest expressions. The estate has 5 hectares of vineyards of which 2.80 hectares are Brunello. The remaining are used for making Rosso Di Montalcino and the lesser known Sant’Antimo DOC. 

5. Corte dei Venti Cellar And Vinification

The philosophy of the estate is organic farming with minimal to zero intervention in the cellar. Most of the work is really caretaking the land. 

The harvest at Corte dei Venti takes place only when the grapes have reached complete ripeness. Each cluster is hand-picked and hand-selected for all their wines including the Brunello di Montalcino. 

This is why the estate is one of the smallest Brunello vineyards in Montalcino. It’s not by accident. It’s all about managing and controlling the vineyard by hand so the wine can reach its maximum potential. 

Most of the cellar is built underground and is temperature and humidity controlled. It’s divided into 2 distinct areas, one part for vinification in steel tanks and the other for aging in large 25 hl oak barrels. For Brunello di Montalcino large oak casks and small French barriques for Rosso di Montalcino and Sant’Antimo Rosso. 

Their cellar is where you can breath the scents of wine, which rest for a long time. The vinification takes place with soft pumping over and delestage at a controlled temperature of up to 24 ° C, with maceration on the skins, depending on the type of wine and grape variety, ranging between 12 to 28 days. The period of aging in wood is preceded by the malolactic fermentation which takes place in steel and by the natural decanting phase during the winter.

Corte dei Venti produces and bottles at the origin a limited 10,000 bottles of Brunello di Montalcino depending on the vintage. 

6. Confluence Of Nature In Montalcino

Sun, Wind, Red Lands, Slopes And Sea. The Court of the Winds represents the confluence of natures best elements in Montalcino. You’re just one sip away from tasting red gold. 


Corte dei Venti wines we carry


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