“This wine is the result of over three decades of research into Sangiovese, from clonal selection of the vine to vinification and aging techniques,” said Banfi Family Proprietor Co-CEO Cristina Mariani-May. “Our initial goal was to build a better Brunello, a goal that culminated in the introduction of our cru ‘Poggio alle Mura’ from choice vineyards starting with the 1997 vintage. But we learned that Brunello is just one expression of the Sangiovese grape as a varietal; BelnerO, to us, is the ultimate expression of Sangiovese as a terroir-based wine.”
Made from predominantly Sangiovese clones grown in select vineyard blocks on the Castello Banfi estate, the grapes for BelnerO are hand harvested, selected after a second sorting at the winery, and fermented in temperature-controlled hybrid wood and stainless steel fermenters developed and patented by Banfi. The wine is then aged for an additional two years in customcoopered French oak barrels. Compared to traditional barrique, these are toasted more gradually over a lower flame to reduce charring and larger than the normal format in order to minimize the direct influence of the wood and allow the wine to develop its inherent flavors.
BelnerO debuts with the 2005 vintage, considered one of the decade’s top years. The wine is the first from Castello Banfi to bear the designation “Proprietor’s Reserve,” indicating the direct role the Mariani family has had in its making.
For its part, Castello Banfi has become the top Brunello winery in Italy, producing a huge variety of sangiovese and sangiovese blends. It exports to 50 countries.
~2005 Castello Banfi BelnerO: IGT Toscana: Primarily Sangiovese with small amounts of Cabernet and Merlot mixed in and has an alcohol content of 13.5%. Ready to drink now but still has cellar aging potential.
Deep violet color; aromas and flavors of black raspberries, cedar, and mocha; intense fruit, bright acids, soft silky tannins, medium body, long finish; $38.
A lot went into this wine, and it shows in what you get out of it.
~Richard J. Michelli, Italia Living