We set off early in the morning for our visit to Il Galampio property, where Filippo Fedriani owns and operates Marchesato degli Aleramici winery in Montalcino. Montalcino is a small commune and DOCG wine region known for producing an important wine called Brunello di Montalcino. This wine is made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso clone and must be aged a minimum of 3 years and 4 years for the Riserva. Yum! Who’s thirsty? To get there from San Gimignano, it was going to be an hour and a half journey. So we headed south to Siena, then through Buonconvento and onto Montalcino.
You must see Montalcino if you are in Tuscany. I know, I say that about all the villages here, but seriously, take heed. Famous for its Brunello di Montalcino wine, not only is the region beautiful, but the small hillside village is perched at 1800 feet, offering stunning views of the valleys below. It also has a majestic fortress (c’mon who doesn’t like a fortress?) where my friend Dennis pretended he was “king of the world” for a moment. Once arriving in Montalcino, we followed the signs to Grosseto, past Tavernelle and towards Camigliano. Brunello fans brace yourself, because every couple of minutes you will see names on vineyards belonging to famous producers. On approaching the commune of Camigliano, we took a right turn and began the real fun part of the drive. Il Galampio is located on a long (7km), dusty, gravel road lined with vineyards. When you are as excited as our group was to arrive (we’ve come so far), the windy road seems like it will never end.
Il Galampio is a small secluded property surrounded by vineyards and situated near the Ombrone River and its protected national forest. The first to greet us was Gala, Filippo’s adorable and friendly German Shepherd. As we toured the property grounds, our gracious host Filippo explained the history of the old farmhouse that his father had purchased and remodeled several decades ago. Il Galampio operates as an Agriturismo (vacationing farmhouse) as well as a winery, so guests can enjoy the best of both worlds. We continued to the other side of the property where the winery was located.
Since this was harvest time, we got to watch as crates of Sangiovese were lifted from the truck and poured into the distemmer. We also got to see the juice being pumped into stainless steel tanks where they were to ferment for a short time before arriving in their resting place: in large (grandi botti) Slavonian oak casks for 4 years to become Marchesato’s Brunello. My group really appreciated being able to see how a small family-operated winery works. Filippo shared with us his philosophy about making wine in Montalcino. How he tries to stay true to the land and make “traditional” Brunello that is elegant and built for ageing. When I asked how the recent hard rain affected the harvest, he said fortunately Il Galampio has its own micro-climate and they only saw a few drops.
The last part of our tour was spent tasting the Marchesato degli Aleramici 2007 Rosso di Montalcino and the 2004 Brunello di Montalcino. Before we started, Filippo reminded us that when one opens a bottle of Brunello, you must think of what you will be eating with it. He explained that Brunello is not for just sipping, it is meant for food, particularly meat. He recommended pairing Brunello with wild boar, venison or steak. Since we were there early in the day, he prepared a large plate of pecorino cheese, finocchiona salami, prosciutto di parma and…moose sausage! (A gift from his Norwegian friend) The Rosso was superb, made from the same grapes as his Brunello, but aged for a shorter time. It has similar characteristics of a Brunello, but juicier, not as dry and a very good price. Next was the Brunello – dark fruits, spice and tobacco, very complex yet silky smooth. The Brunello was so good, when my aunt (who never drinks) tried it, she said, “sorry, I won’t be sharing this one.” We all knew how she felt. Spending time with Filippo made us all realize the long days, the care and patience that goes into making a good quality wine. We felt very privileged to be here: drinking a Brunello, on the property from which it was yielded, along side the farmer who labored to produce it, on a gazebo with the bright Tuscan sun all around us. Does it get much better than than that!