La Fornace, from sharecropper to top producer of Brunello

federico scarzello
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stephan solva
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La Fornace, from sharecropper to top producer of Brunello

fabio giannetti

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La Fornace 2010 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva
94 points

A mix of cherry, blackberry, leather and tobacco flavors, this red has an underlying mineral streak and formidable tannins. Veers toward the dry side of the spectrum on the finish, yet there is enough sweet fruit to keep this from going off the rails. Best from 2019 through 2035. 300 cases made.

Bruce Sanderson
Wine Spectator
June 2016

Translated from the Fornace website:

La Fornace is a small, family-operated estate with 2 hectares devoted to olive oil production and 4.5 hectares planted to grape vine. The ages of the vineyards ranges from 6 to 38 years. They are located on the northern slope of Montalcino at an altitude of 400 meters a.s.l. The subsoils are composed of sand deposits with some presence of clay.

The name “La Fornace” or “the furnace” is owed to the fact that when the estate was founded in 1490, it was the site of kiln for the production of bricks.

In 1964, Giuseppe Giannetti — grandfather to the current owner, Fabio Giannetti (pictured above) — purchased La Fornace after a lifetime and much personal sacrifice working as a sharecropper for the Church. In the beginning, the estate covered just 2 hectares, with a small, roughly ½-hectare vineyard. Giuseppe came from a long line of farmers, winemakers, and olive oil producers. But as was the custom at that time, small producers didn’t bottle their own wine. Instead, they sold it to the larger wineries.

In 1975, Fabio’s parents Franco and Germana were able to purchase nearby fields where they planted more vines. But it wasn’t until 1987 that they bottled their first Rosso di Montalcino. In 1988, they bottled their first Brunello di Montalcino. They started out with 1,000 bottles of Rosso and 1,000 bottles of Brunello. Today, with 4.5 hectares planted, the estate produces roughly 18,000 bottles in the best vintages. Even though the winery could make up to 30,000 bottles each year, Fabio, who is never one to compromise, prefers the highest quality over quantity.

In 1998, his parents decided to devote themselves to other pursuits and gave the reins of the winery over to their son.