ask dr. vinny

Hello there! I'm Dr. Vinifera, or "Vinny" for short. Ask me your toughest wine questions, from the technical aspects of winemaking to the fine points of etiquette. I hope you find my answers educational and even amusing. Looking for a particular answer? Check my archive and my FAQs. You can also follow me on Twitter: @AskDrVinny.


Dear Dr. Vinny,

Is longer barrel aging the primary difference between Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello di Montalcino?

—Sal, Leicester, Mass.

Dear Sal,

Yes—and it usually comes with a big price difference, too. Brunello di Montalcino (a particular strain of the Sangiovese grape, from the Montalcino region) is aged longer than any other Tuscan wine before it is released, for a minimum of four years, and two have to be in cask or barrel—three years in oak if you're a traditionalist and/or making a Riserva. These wines can be pricy, often costing $100 or more.

Rosso di Montalcino (which is also Sangiovese from Montalcino) is not required to be aged more than a year, so it sees less oak, is less tannic, lighter, fruitier, and drinks well upon release. It's easy to find Rosso di Montalcino in the $20 to $30 range.

—Dr. Vinny


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