Allegrini 2018

The top vineyards in Italy with stellar prices: from Barolo to Brunello, and more

The historic wineries of Montalcino, where one hectare of vineyard in Brunello is about 900,000 euros (+4.500% from 1966), by Giacomo Neri

An renowned prestige, a growing market and, consequently, the increasing value of the hectares, which is reaching new records, these are the trends that, in recent years, has unified the most important territories of Italian wine, from the Langhe of Barolo, where, according to WineNews estimates, one hectare exceeds even one million euros in the most important crus, to the vineyards of Brunello di Montalcino, where the best hectares are close to 900,000 euros.
A dynamic that, although lower prices, also concerns the Valpolicella (where you get around 600,000 euros per hectare in the Valpolicella Classica) and Bolgheri (on 450,000). However, the territory of Montalcino, where the acquisition of another 2 hectares of Brunello registered land (as well as other lands and properties) by the leading winery Castello Banfi (which now owns 173.2 hectares of Brunello) is unique, with an incredible progression of values.
If since 1966, the year of recognition of the DOC, to date, the increase in value has been 4,500%, a stunning record, which brings the vineyards of Montalcino to “sit” on the Olympus of the most valuable in the world and at the top of the Italian ones, along with Barolo, in just over two years the values have more than doubled: in 2016 a hectare of vineyard in Brunello fluctuated around 350. In 2017 it rose to 500,000 euros and has now risen to 650-700,000 euros, with prices that go even further, as mentioned, with peaks that sometimes touch 900,000 euros.

This is a bargain, that of Castello Banfi, which, despite the stellar values of the land, confirms the appeal and vivacity of the territory, with a 2018 that, only in recent months, has also seen the completion of new acquisitions of plots of vineyards by the ColleMassari Group of Claudio Tipa, now one of the most important reality of the territory (in which now summed up more than 200 hectares of land, of which more than 41 are vineyards, half of them in Brunello di Montalcino, among the famous realities of Poggio di Sotto, La Bellarina, La Velona, and Tenuta San Giorgio, in various microzones of Montalcino), and where Francesco Illy, at the head of the famous Podere Le Ripi winery, also acquired Marchesato Degli Aleramici, in the microzone of Pian Delle Vigne, which owns a total of 47 hectares of land around Podere Galampio, 15 of which are vineyards (with 9 in Brunello di Montalcino).
The protagonist of one of the most important acquisitions of recent times, and now one of the reference wine cellars of quality of Brunello di Montalcino, is Casanova di Neri, which, in a few years, has lined up an impressive series of awards: it was at no. 1 in the top 100 of “Wine Spectator” in 2006, with the Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2001 (and at no. 1 of “Wine Spectator” in 2006). 4 in the 2017 edition of the ranking, with the Brunello di Montalcino 2012), received the 100/100 of “The Wine Advocate” with the Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2010, in 2015 (together with the Brunello di Montalcino Madonna Delle Grazie 2010 of Il Marroneto, while in 2018 the “hat trick” of 100/100 assigned by “Wine Enthusiast” to the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012 Vigna di Pianrosso Santa Caterina d’Oro Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona, to the Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2012 Conti Costanti and to the Brunello di Montalcino 2013 Le Chiuse) and, at the end of 2018, was at the center of the thematic tastings of the New York Wine Experience of “Wine Spectator”, one of the most important wine events in the U.S., along with the name that represents the history of the territory, the Tenuta Greppo di Biondi Santi, and the myth Sassicaia, just to name a few of the most important.
A company able to combine consistent quality with production size over the years, and now it has 42 hectares of Brunello vineyards in some of the most prestigious and suitable areas of the territory, such as Cerretalto and Tenuta Nuova, also thanks to the acquisition, at the beginning of 2017, of 7 hectares, divided between Sesta and Fiesole, the vineyard surrounding the winery, Poderuccio, among the oaks in front of the winery, Podernuovo, the highest of the company, Le Cetine, on donkey back hill immersed in the Mediterranean scrub, Pietradonice, vineyard planted on an ancient onyx quarry, Cerretalto, an old vineyard in a natural amphitheatre on the Asso stream, and Spereta. Moreover, it was the producer, Giacomo Neri, who we asked for a vision of this phenomenon, thinking above all of the growth of land values.
“Montalcino is a unique, beautiful territory - explains Giacomo Neri to WineNews - where there are vineyards that produce unique wines from Sangiovese. Of course, there are differences, there are beautiful vineyards, which give rise to great wines, unique Sangiovese, of great quality, and are priceless, and it is difficult to establish a value, for me. Furthermore, there are the excellent vineyards that produce good wines, and that therefore have market prices. Now I am standing in front of my winery, looking at Montalcino: it seems Lorenzetti’s Good Government, it is a whole that makes land values increase”. If we consider certain values, we can also think of quotations that go beyond business investments, almost with speculative dynamics, according to Neri, this is not the case.
“If you look at the largest areas of the world, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne or Barolo, we are always the least “expensive” territory - the producer points out - and, therefore, it is natural that large groups look here. We must continue to talk about vineyards, terroir, and wine, and remain with our feet dirty of mud, we must remain true, be authentic, and if we keep this philosophy, followed for many years, the future will be very positive. Certainly, in Brunello di Montalcino, over the years, many producers have invested, coming from outside the territory, from Italy but also from the world, from the Mariani family, with Castello Banfi, in the 70s, to the French of Epi, of the Descours family, which recently acquired the cradle of Brunello, Tenuta Greppo Biondi Santi, to cite the most emblematic cases.
“The fact that investments have arrived and are arriving from outside the territory is a positive fact, confirms the worldwide interest for this place and for this wine, which exports 80% of its production. But, having said that, we must not lose our roots and our attachment to this territory”, says Neri, who adds: “our philosophy, as territories, must be to make quality, not quantity, to think of large bottles, not large numbers. In terms of markets, the USA remains very important, but we must ensure that Brunello is also a leading denomination in other countries of the world, even in Asia. We must learn and follow those who have more history than us, such as Burgundy, or Bordeaux, or Champagne, thinking, however, that in 30 years we have done what others, perhaps, have done in 150 years”.

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