Montalcino, located in the heart of Tuscany, has a long and tumultuous history. Targeted by Florence and Siena for its strategical location, Montalcino has been many times besieged and at war. From 1200 until 1553 thecity was destryed several times. Montalcino suffered then years of war when the Republic of Siena withdrew inside its fortress until 1559, when Siena was annexed to the Granducato Mediceo. After all destructions the city always rose up again, thanks to the wealth of the countryside products: grapes, olives and wheat, the cattle and the woods' products.
Montalcino is known since ages for its wines, especially a sweet white wine; in fact, author Redi descibed the Moscadello wine at the end of the 17th century in his "Bacchus in Tuscany" book as: "... the divine Moscadelletto (wine) of Montalcino... suited for the ladies in Paris and for the beautiful ladies that cheer up river Thames too..." and even before that, friar Leandro Alberti wrote in his 1500 book "Description of whole Italy" that Montalcino was "well-known for its good wines gained from its nice hills".
The destiny of this beautiful little town placed on top of a hill has been always tied up with agriculture. In the early years of the 20th century poverty was widely spread and the town was made of a lot of little farms. After two world wars and the abolishment of share-cropping followed by the boom of industrialization did leave Montalcino almost in ruins. During the Fifties Montalcino was one of the poorest towns of the Siena province; in less than thirty years it raised up to first place! One single product, the Brunello wine created at the end of the 19th century by the Biondi Santi family, generated a true renaissance after it got to be known, appreciated and looked after by wine lovers worldwide.
The Brunello di Montalcino wine obtained the DOC ("appellation of controlled origin") naming in 1966. Since the early Seventies there's a booming increase of hectares of land declared Brunello vineyards. An idea of the wine production increase is given by the following data: 800.000 bottlese were produced in 1975 by 25 winery companies; more than 1.500.000 bottles produced in 1979 by more approx. 40 winery companies; more than 6.000.000 bottles produced in 2005 by 240 different wine companies! The official Production Standards document has always researched the quality of the final product, with low yields, long refining and a minimum rest period before the wine can be traded on the market. The only admitted grapes are obviously Sangiovese Grosso, that may not be produced over 80 quintals per hectar and with a grapes to wine yield over 68%; the bottling has to be done at the production site, and the marketing is set after a minimum of five years after grape-cropping, six years for the special Reserve. Brunello wine obtains the DOCG ("guaranteed appellation of controlled origin") quality naming in 1980, the very first wine on the italian territory. In recent years the official Production Standards document has been modified, decreasing the mandatory years needed for refining in oak barrels from four to three and a half, then to three, then down to two, but still with a minimum of four years' total rest in the cellar, five for the special Reserve. The reason has to be found in the very different geological variery of the soils that are devoted to Brunello wine, due to the very wide territory and to the interesting, different climate of its micro-zones. Rosso di Montalcino wine obtained the DOC ("appellation of controlled origin") naming in 1983. Finally the whole region including Montalcino, called Val D'Orcia, has been declared as "world inheritance" by UNESCO.