The most influential man behind Montalcino’s wine scene

We know some exceptionally talented people in the wine industry, but every once in a while we meet someone on a whole other level. Fabio Tassi is one such figure, a man so completely enlightened in the world of wine that we have to consider the very real possibility he’s descended straight from Dionysus.

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Fabio’s passion for everything Montalcino is undeniable.

It’s not simply because he transforms Sangiovese grapes into elegant, high scoring Brunello prized by collectors around the world. That’s part of it, for sure. But in a grander sense it’s because of his tireless dedication to preserving the history of Montalcino and promoting its wines.

Enoteca la Fortezza

Yes, the Tassi family has a long history of making their own wine, but anyone who’s spent time in the little town of Montalcino also knows the family as owners of a legendary wine shop, the renowned Enoteca la Fortezza.

This wine shop is located inside the walls of an ancient fortress perched atop a hill with spectacular 360 degree views of Montalcino. Originally built by the Republic of Siena in 1361 to keep invaders out, today it serves an opposite purpose, inviting people in. Visitors can walk the ramparts, but they also explore a specially curated selection of Brunellos from local producers.

The rising tide of Montalcino

Few winemakers are as completely and unselfishly devoted to the cause as Tassi. In 2002 he took over as owner of the Fortezza, bringing with him a commitment to preserving and showcasing the best Brunellos from every corner of Montalcino. He focuses on diversity and quality, describing the specially curated collection as a “reference point for fans of quality wine”. They have biodynamic and organic wines, modern styles, traditional styles, and impossible to find labels from tiny producers you’ve never heard of.

“A reference point for fans of quality wine and for those who want to know the protagonists of the fascinating world of Montalcino”

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A look into the impressive wine cellar inside the fortress.

Still, Fabio’s commitment to the cause doesn’t end there. He partnered with Silvia Fertonani to create Brunellowineonline.com, an online extension of the wine shop dedicated to bringing a new depth of knowledge to their life’s work.

Praise for Tassi wines

We were lucky enough to spend an afternoon with Fabio during our trip to Tuscany earlier in September. While he’s not serving as an evangelist for everything Montalcino, he concentrates on making wines under the Tassi label. Ultimately this is ground zero for his passion.

He “is not fond of industrial wines” because even if they are well made, they come off as generic, boring, lacking personality. In Fabio’s mind small defects add character, the grit which gives wine its identity. He understands that his hand in winemaking is just one instrument in the symphony of his wine’s composition and like any good conductor, he seems to recognize how every little detail contributes to the final product.

You simply won’t find anything like a 2010 Brunello di Montalcino Franci. Top to bottom, it shows perfectly arranged layers of fruit, spice, and other nuanced elements. Robert Parker gave his 2010 Franci 94 points, saying “This wine veers toward the ethereal and away from the obvious fruit and berry tones you get with less sophisticated Sangiovese. In fact, this is a wine that seemingly basks in the Brunello spotlight with all the small, enticing details and aromatic trimming you should expect of a wine of this craftsmanship.”

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Tassi’s restaurant features insanely good Tuscan dishes and plenty of local wines.

If you consider yourself a savvy Brunello enthusiast, and haven’t tried one of Tassi’s wines, we urge you to seek one out. You won’t be disappointed. Also, if you happen to be in the area, we urge you to pay a visit to his restaurant – Locanda Franci, which is located just across from the Fortezza. We had a spectacular lunch there, with way too many delicious Tuscan dishes, paired of course with Tassi’s wines.

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Resources

http://www.brunellowineonline.com/

http://www.consorziobrunellodimontalcino.it/

http://www.enotecalafortezza.com/

Mike Meisner

Mike is the resident content creator for the Last Bottle blog. When he's not spilling wine on his keyboard he can be found wandering the aisles in the warehouse with a Coravin in hand, whispering to bottles "This will only hurt for a second".