The medieval township of Montalcino lies atop the gorgeous Orcia River Valley (Unesco Heritage Site), one of the most photogenic and photographed river valleys of Italy and the backdrop for the production of one of Europe’s most illustrious wines, Brunello di Montalcino. The city takes its name from Tuscany’s ubiquitous holm oak, ilex in Latin, elce or leccio in Italian. The inhabitants of Montalcino — the Monte Ilcino — are known as the ilcinesi.
Although the hills of Montalcino and the many medieval hamlets that pepper the rolling landscape have been renowned for their agricultural treasures since pre-Roman times, it wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that the township and environs earned their for the production of wine fine.
Beginning in the late 19th century, as a newly united Italy began to produce world-class wines in Chianti and Piedmont, a handful of now historic estates began to produce age-worthy bottlings of a local mutation of Sangiovese known as Sangiovese Grosso.
Today, Brunello di Montalcino is widely recognized as one of the great wines of Europe and is coveted for its tannic potential and its remarkable longevity.
While the number of bottlers of Brunello has grown considerably over the last two decades (today, there are more than 250 bottlers in the appellation), many producers remain committed to the production of hand-made, artisanal wines, worthy of their noble heritage.
When the Gaja family purchased the historic Santa Restituta estate in 1994, it did so in the hopes of bringing its expertise and experience in winemaking to this often misunderstood appellation. Today, Pieve Santa Restituta’s Brunello di Montalcino is considered one of the top expressions of the appellation.
In 2005, the family completed the installation of its state-of-the-art winemaking facility on the Pieve Santa Restituta estate and its meticulous restoration of the estate’s medieval church — one of the most beautiful and unusual in the area — represents the family’s steadfast commitment to Italy’s cultural treasures and winemaking heritage.