[review]Mr. Leonardo Bellaccini is the ‘accidental’ enologist behind Campogiovanni, the Italian wine from San Felice with a cult following. He knows his grapes and his terroir. The winemaking career sort of found him through an agriculture class in college and he was hooked ever since. Now he spends his days in his Italian vineyards, plucking grapes and making fantastic wine.

Brunello, a little known red wine, is the name that was given locally to what was believed to be an individual grape variety grown in Montalcino. San Felice has always been ahead of its time since the ‘80s, when Brunello’s star had really yet to rise, the winery purchased Campogiovanni, a tenuta on the southwest side of the Montalcino hillslope. It is currently comprised of 14 hectares of vines dedicated to the production of Brunello di Montalcino, one of the most iconic wines of San Felice’s entire line.

Lying at elevations that range from 250 to 300 metres, the estate is on the southwest slope of the Montalcino hill, precisely where it can receive the slightly mystical influences of the mild Mediterranean breezes. These conditions ensure an earlier ripening of the grapes compared to those in the north or northeast quadrants. We had the pleasure of tasting some of the region’s finest wines with Leonardo himself recently at Le Cirque.

A great bottle of wine contains more philosophy than all the books in the world

The Il Quercione Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006 was among those wines, a lush, rich true expression of the terroir of Campogiovanni. Complex aromas of dried porcini and blackberries follow though to a full body, with silky tannins and a beautiful depth of fruit. Hints of chilies and spices with the fruit. It’s a thinking wine, one that excites you and makes you wonder what could happen with more time in the cellar. After 30 minutes in the decanter it really begins to pop and come to life, so have patience. It’s an extroverted red with a dark, brooding masculine quality to each sip. Enticing.

Il Quercione is produced exclusively in exceptional vintages and in extremely limited quantities, so if you find a bottle, grab it and save for a special evening. San Felice’s philosophy is embodied in its overall commitment to pursuing total excellence, a goal achieved by means of research and experimentation, as well as by their determination to maintain a vital relationship with the local terroir and with local wine typicity.

The soul of a wine lies in its winemaker, and Leonardo’s passion comes through in every bottle. It’s an exact science to him, one that requires tremendous trial and error until each blend is just so.
Inquisitive, creative, and always ready for new challenges, Bellaccini is always working with the ancient grapes of his vineyards to enhance their potential with the modern ways of the wine world.

It’s a wonderful harmony that shows especially in special vintages like the Il Quercione Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006.