Rudy Buratti, the chief winemaker at Brunello star Castello Banfi in Montalcino, died from cancer on Jan. 13. He was 56.
Buratti, a native of Trento in northeast Italy and graduate of the prestigious Agricultural Institute of San Michele all’Adige, joined Castello Banfi in 1983. In 1999, he succeeded Ezio Rivella as chief winemaker and had held the position since.
“The premature loss of our dear friend and colleague Rudy is a huge loss for the whole wine world,” said Cristina Mariani-May, co-CEO of Banfi Vintners, in a statement. “Rudy leaves a huge emptiness in all of us, but also leaves so many beautiful and indelible memories.”
During his tenure at Banfi, Buratti worked on developing a group of six Sangiovese clones suited to the soils and microclimate of Banfi’s vineyards. The clones were registered in 1996, giving other producers access to them.
More recently, he implemented micro-vinifications of the estate’s best parcels, aging the Sangiovese in barrel before blending and aging further in large casks. “We are 30 years old in terms of winemaking, but more and more we are moving to a cru approach in the past 10 years, to understand each single vineyard, each cru as a component of the blend,” he explained in a 2011 interview.
Enrico Viglierchio, Castello Banfi’s general manager since 1999, worked closely with Buratti for 18 years. “Rudy was my teacher, my mentor,” he told Wine Spectator. “I remember spending a lot of time with him as he explained to me all the technical aspects of the wines.”
Buratti also served on the board of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino from 2010 to 2013. Patrizio Cencioni, president of the Consorzio, was also a friend. “His 35 years spent in Montalcino have left a deep and permanent mark, both for his professional skills and, most of all, for his human qualities. His competence, his innovative spirit, his humility, his strong link with the territory have given a lot to all of us and to the popularity of Montalcino, elevating the image of our wines and contributing with commitment and enthusiasm to the growth of the denomination.”
Buratti is survived by his wife, Ursula Ciola, and his daughters Alexandra and Carlotta.