Sometimes one just gets a bit lucky…
As covid, for Europe at least, started to end and travel became a possibility I immediately dashed out to Italy. This was September 2021. It turned into a road trip as I combined Piedmont and Montalcino, not exactly side by side! On my final morning I went to see Alessandro Mori at Il Marroneto. It was a superb visit, my first there. Towards the end Alessandro asked me if I had time to see a friend of his, that friend was Riccardo Campinoti. Fortunately, I was not flying back from Rome until the evening so I could, an appointment was made.
On arrival I struggled to find Riccardo who was in the middle of a lunch with his harvest team. Thereafter he gave me a very generous amount of time (especially considering he didn’t know me from “Adam” and it was harvest) and we tasted his gorgeous wines after a look around. It was fascinating – a refined style with an emphasis on single vineyards sites and a small production. I left on good terms with little more than an agreement to stay in touch.
Fast forward almost a year, August 2022, and Thibaut and I found ourselves in Montalcino and had arranged to visit. Thibaut obviously made more of an impression (not difficult) because on our return back to the UK (and to Hong Kong for Thibaut), Riccardo eventually gave in to our pleading for an allocation and that is this offer. I think you will love the wines. Alessandro thank you for the introduction!
Head of Fine Wine
This lovely estate, with an agriturismo on site, was established by Riccardo and Jennifer Campinoti when they bought the farmhouse and very well-placed vines back in 2003. The rise thereafter has been pretty stratospheric. The estate is 23ha, 6ha of these are at Le Ragnaie itself. These vines are amongst the highest in Montalcino, this becoming more and more of a blessing with climate change. They are south facing in the central zone, not far from, and just above, the wonderful Case Basse of Soldera fame.
Now for the history lesson, being one of the highest points in the area it became famous for “bird catchers”, the bird catchers net features on the label. This net looked rather like a spider's web (Ragna, in Italian) and that is where the estate’s name originated. In addition to these vineyards there are others at: Petroso, a vineyard area along the Scarnacuoia road below Montalcino. Castelnuovo dell'Abate, a vineyard located in the southern sector of Montalcino in front of the Amiata Mountain, therefore, next door to Poggio di Sotto.
From 2015 there is a new single vineyard cru of Montosoli, one of the very best sites in the region, this sits on the north side of Montalcino.
The cellar is located on Le Ragnaie estate itself. It has recently been expanded and remodelled allowing the team to work in a logical and clear environment. Once the bunches are harvested by hand they are destemmed and placed on a vibrating table. This process allows Riccardo to eliminate any “bad” grapes, leaves and stems that were not removed in the de-stemmer. The musts are then placed in cement vats to begin the maceration and then fermentation process. They will remain in these vats for anywhere from 25 to 40 days.
Thereafter, they are pressed and placed in large barrels. Riccardo uses both 25hl Slovenian oak and 25hl Allier oak barrels in this process. The length of time that the wine remains in the barrel varies. The Rosso di Montalcino stays for 9 months in the barrel, they use barrels of various dimensions for this wine. The Brunello di Montalcino rests for 36-48 months in 25hl Slovenian oak barrels. Finally, the wine is bottled, it then rests in a temperature and humidity-controlled cellar awaiting release on to the market.
A relatively cool and showery start to the season turned extremely warm and dry. This dryness and warmth continued into the summer and it promised an early harvest although thankfully the beginning of September did bring some rain to add an element of plushness to the small crop. Hands on producers, as Riccardo is, with rigorous selection (as here) are the ones to follow.
The notes come from tasting on three occasions – on opening – after 4 hours and after 24 hrs.
Brunello di Montalcino 2017, Le Ragnaie
Good bright colour, expressive nose with some herbs but predominantly red fruit to the fore. Open structure on the attack, nicely opulent whilst no more than a balanced medium weight. A little spice and good acidity. The structure is present but not domineering. A charming length to the lovely finish. Developed well over 24hrs with air which bodes well, a great intro to the estate.
Corney & Barrow Score 16.5 - 17
Recommended drinking from 2023–2027+
Brunello di Montalcino Passo del Lume Spento 2017, Le Ragnaie
621m above sea level, 3km Southwest of Montalcino. 36 months in large Slovenian oak botti.
Good youthful yet translucent colour. Lifted nose with real complexity, some sweet leather but again red fruit. A lovely succulent, in Brunello terms, palate very moreish, vivacious energy. Good, in fact very good, length. Structure really frames the wine, adding and not taking away. This is delicious – I wish my note did it more service. Was richer and even more complete with air – a star!
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5 - 18
Recommended drinking from 2024–2030+
Brunello di Montalcino Ragnaie Vigna Vecchia 2017, Le Ragnaie
560-600m above sea level, 3km south of Montalcino but just north of Passo del Lume Spento. 36 months in 25hl Slovenian oak botti
A slightly darker core to colour here. More “animal”, less overt fruit initially. As the fruit reveals itself it is a shade darker and more savoury but has a gorgeous core to it. Succulent but correct, the structure is a stealthy one, good length.
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5
Recommended drinking from 2024–2030+
Brunello di Montalcino Casanovina Montosoli 2017, Le Ragnaie
280m above sea level in the northern zone of Montalcino with an eastern exposure. 36 months in large Slovenian oak botti.
A little lighter than the Vigna Vecchia. A classily restrained nose, mellow but good. There is a more foursquare nature to this, you could say more masculine, a bigger frame. The texture is very good and got better and better with time – a sleeper!
Corney & Barrow Score 17.5 +
Recommended drinking from 2026–2030+