The company is named after the Roman lawyer Gabriele Mastrojanni who, in 1975, bought the estates of San Pio and Loreto and therein planted the first vines. The vineyards are all about 40 years old and, to this day, they are still employed to produce wine. “A poor and virgin land, clean and unpolluted,” or so it was called back in the day. The hills are located between 180 and 440 meters above sea level and the Romea (Francigena), the ancient road used by pilgrims between France and Rome, cuts right through them.
This once used to be a very difficult land to work, rich in forests and vegetation, much more suited to animals than man: essentially a hunting ground, rather than an area for cultivation. But it is precisely on these lands that the stubborn Mastrojanni lawyer has achieved a real miracle of nature, that is, planting Sangiovese grosso vines. Since the first vintage, this Brunello has been a high-class wine.
In the early 90s Gabriele was succeeded by his son Antonio Mastrojanni, who invited the oenologist Maurizio Castelli to the company, where he serves to this day as a winemaker . In 1992 Andrea Marchetti, who would later go on to become director of the company, joined the team. In those years the infrastructure for winemaking and aging was built. The pivotal idea was the use of concrete, an antiquated technique at the time, but which ensured thermal stability and the absence of magnetic fields that are usually formed in stainless steel tanks.
Sangiovese grapes go through an extremely vigorous vetting process: any grape that’s deemed undesirable, too ripe or not ripe enough is simply discarded and dropped on the ground. This type of thinning is done in late August.
After the harvest, the grapes must pass a further selection on the sorting table, where special teams examine them bunch by bunch and throw away those that show signs of damage. The goal is to weed out any Sangiovese grapes that are not perfectly ripe and healthy.
In 2008, Mastrojanni’s sons sold the company to the Illy family and since then the brothers Francesco and Riccardo Illy have further improved on the grape control phase. The curious aspect of this story is that Francesco Illy had been a Mastrojanni wine aficionado since the ’80s. Moreover, in 1997 Illy bought Podere Le Ripi, a farm in Montalcino bordering the Mastrojanni lands. It was a fatal attraction, and the conclusion was in some ways foregone: today Mastrojanni is part of the Illy Group, known throughout the world for the production of coffee. The brothers Illy and their families carry on the wine tradition of attorney Mastrojanni.
One sip after another, I had confirmation of being in the presence of a true Brunello di Montalcino, elegant and complex at the same time. It’s called Vigna Loreto 2011. It emanates high-impact, vibrant aromas of ripe red fruit such as marasca cherries and red currants, fresh rose, leather and sweet tobacco. It flows on the palate with the right flavour, it’s inviting and contains soft, sweet and ripe tannins, making the drink fine yet concentrated. The taste more than reflects the perfect ripeness of the fruit from which the wine originated. What more to say? Prosit!
Some technical data: 100% Sangiovese grapes. The wine is aged for 36 months in 16, 25 or 33 hl French oak barrels. It’s then aged in the bottle for 6-8 months before going out on the market. Production: only 5,000 bottles.
Retail price: € 72 – $ 77. My Rating: 93/100
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