Tuesday, September 30, 2008
On September 29 Illy Group (the famous coffee producer) announced the acquisition of Mastrojanni, one of the most significant producers of montalcino whose Brunello (both standard and the cru "Schiena d'Asino") have always maintained a constant high level of quality (I opened recently a "Mastrojanni 1997" and it was at its best, still lightly tannic with delicate tertiary aromas).
Mastrojanni is a good example of the story of Montalcino in the seventies, where wine lovers from different areas of Italy sometimes with no specific experience in wine production (including Gianfranco Soldera, Diego Molinari..) finally settled in Montalcino and started producing Brunello.
It was 1975 when Gabriele Mastrojanni, a roman lawyer from Rome, landed in Montalcino and bought 90 hectares (222 acres) in the South-East area of Montalcino territory, close to the conjunction between the river Orcia and the Asso. No water and electricity in the old farm in the middle of the property. The first vineyards are planted in 1979, 11 hectares of Sangiovese grosso for the production of Brunello (now 15), plus other 6 ha. for production of other wines (the winery today produces brunello, brunello riserva, brunello Schiena d'Asino, rosso di montalcino, rosso San Pio, a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet sauvignon, and Botrys, a blend of moscato, malvasia and sauvignon). Gabriele Mastrojanni, well seconded by the second generation of the family (Antonio, Ottavio and Federica) only in 1984, after long efforts and investments, started to enjoy profits from the winery.
Today the winery produces about 80.000 bottles, with 7.000 bottles of the prestigious cru "Schiena d'Asino" only released in the best years (2001 is a great example of it).
The rumors regarding the selling of Mastrojanni had been circulated for a while. The information released by the Illy Group, notably regarding the stability of the current organisation of the winery and notably of the enologist Maurizio Castelli, is a good signal that Illy does not want to abandon the way followed to now and which has made of Mastrojanni one of the best reality of Montalcino.