Buone Feste da Montalcino!

To close the year, we need a wine that goes above and beyond, something that says “it’s a special time and we want to celebrate with a special wine!” It’s like the dress or suit we buy for the best occasion of the year.

In terms of Italian wines, there are several special options to choose from. But after tasting a number of wines, my heart brought me back to Tuscany-Brunello di Montalcino specifically. And what is better than a Brunello? A Brunello 2016!  The 2016 vintage is heralded as a “Five Star” one, the highest recognition for a vintage from the Brunello Consortium. The 2016 vintage has also received very high scores from the press.

Though Brunello di Montalcino is a name well recognized among wine lovers, its entrance into the “world’s best wines” elite is fairly new. The first Brunello di Montalcino to be marketed didn’t happen until 1933, at a wine exposition in Siena where only 4 producers were present. Growth has happened rapidly as the region has gained a reputation for high quality wines. In 1975, there were 25 producers. Today, there are 250.

The region’s pioneer was Clemente Biondi, who in the mid-1800s began cultivating a clone selection of Sangiovese that, given its large berries and brownish coloration, became known as Sangiovese Grosso or Sangiovese Brunello. Around 1870, Clemente’s grandson Ferruccio Biondi-Santi perfected the wine. Montalcino has become synonymous with Sangiovese since then.

Keep this bottle for your cellar and save it for that special moment. Time is on its side!

Elio Longobardi, Italian Wine Specialist 

PlumpJack Wine & Spirits – Noe Valley


Uccelliera, Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016



About the Winery:

The Uccelliera estate was once part of neighboring Ciacci Piccolomini until 1986, when winemaker Andrea Cortonesi purchased it from his friends and former employers. After refining his trade as cellar master for Ciacci, Andrea ventured out on his own with the formation of Uccelliera. His first vintage was in 1991 with the production of a mere 500 bottles!
The wines have quickly become cult favorites among the cognoscenti. Tucked away in the southeast corner of the appellation in Castelnuovo dell’Abate, the ancient quarries that yielded the alabaster for the Abbey of Sant'Antimo border the vineyards. The soil here is loose and stony, which when coupled with a warm microclimate gives the wines of Uccelliera a rich and ripe expression, vintage after vintage.  Andrea Cortonesi is tireless in his approach to winemaking, with all vineyard work done exclusively by hand.

About the Winemaking:

100% Sangiovese Grosso from organically farmed vineyards ranging from 150 to 350 meters above sea level. Handpicked harvest, gentle press of the clusters, and elimination of grape stalks. The wine ages for 24 months in a mix of Slavonian and French oak, then spends another 2 years in bottle before release.


Tasting Notes:

The deep garnet color of the wine in the glass prepares you for the intense fruitiness, where black cherry, raspberry, and currants intermingle with herbal and earthy tones. Lavender, sage, violets, tobacco, and fresh plowed soil are some of the olfactory and sensory notes that emerge through the tasting. 

Open and decant the bottle for a couple of hours if planning to drink it now.


Andrea Cortonesi

Price per bottle / Price per case

$ 89                       $ 961

Suggested Food Pairing

Peposo dei fornaciai (see recipe); grilled bistecca fiorentina; fresh egg noodles pasta with porcini mushrooms, truffles or wild boar ragù; aged cheeses.

Peposo dei fornaciai 

(Tuscan beef stew)

Peposa dei fornaciai is a popular dish during the holidays, and for good reason. This recipe originates from Impruneta, a small village outside Florence. Impruneta is known for its furnaces, where bricks and terracotta vases and jars are made–the famous cotto dell’Impruneta. The hearty Tuscan beef stew was made for the fornaciai, the men who worked at the furnaces, hence the name of the recipe.

This dish will perfectly complement your bottle of Brunello.

INGREDIENTS (serving 4)

  • 3 lb boneless beef stew meat (i.e. chuck round)
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bottle of Tuscan Sangiovese (Chianti, Morellino or others)
  • 10 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 4 tsp whole black peppercorn
  • Salt

  1. Cut the meat in roughly 2 inch pieces
  2. Place the meat in a big bowl with garlic, peppercorns, and wine. Cover with foil and let marinate for an hour
  3. Get a large pan, add the oil and when it is hot pour in the meat, the marinade, and some salt. 
  4. Cook covered for 3 hours on low heat or until the meat starts to fall apart
  5. Serve with a side of warm cannellini beans drizzled with olio nuovo or your best EVOO and toasted bread

Buon appetito!

Dear amici of the Italian Wine Club,

This December selection will be my last one as the curator of the club.  After seven years since we started this project, and over nineteen years working at PlumpJack Wine & Spirits, I’m retiring at the end of this month. 

It’s been a privilege to work for this company, and even more of a privilege to work for customers like yourselves. Our goal is not just to sell a bottle, but also to share an emotion. I hope you enjoyed the wines and the stories that I brought to your homes every month, and I hope they helped keep our shared passion for il vino italiano alive. 

I would like to keep in touch with those of you that, through the years, have created a bond that goes beyond the customer-seller relationship.

Thanks again for your support, suggestions, and encouragement. You made my job worthwhile.

Wishing you and your families a great and healthy Holiday Season and an even better New Year!

Grazie di cuore.


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