Azienda Agricola SassodiSole, owned by the Terzuoli family for three generations, is situated to the northwest of the town of Montalcino amidst the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside. The estate encompasses 110 acres, of which only 12 acres are planted to vineyards, 2.5 acres of olive groves and the remainder comprised of arable land and woodland. The winery resides in the middle of the estate, whose 100% estate grown vineyards are exclusively planted to the indigenous Sangiovese variety and situated at an altitude between 280 and 320 meters above sea level on stony soil. Owner Roberto Terzuoli oversees all aspects of SassodiSole, both in the vineyard and cellar. The grapes are hand picked and undergo a manual selection upon arrival at the winery. SassodiSole honors traditional, Tuscan wine production with an aging process exclusively in large, used, Slavonian, oak barrels, known as “botte”, for 36 months for their Brunello and 48 months for their Riserva. There is no manipulation or additives of any kind introduced to the wines after the grapes arrive in the cellar.
The Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is Tuscany’s boldest expression of Sangiovese, located 30 miles south of Siena with the hilltop town of Montalcino at its epicenter. Brunello is the local name for the Sangiovese Grosso clone, from which Brunello di Montalcino is exclusively produced. Brunello is aged longer than any other Tuscan wine and by law, Brunello is aged for four years before release with a minimum two years in oak followed by a minimum four months further aging in bottle. Brunello Riserva legally requires aging for five years, two years in oak and a minimum six months further aging in bottle before release. Prior to the 1998 vintage, the legal, aging requirements for Brunello and Brunello Riserva were shortened from three to two years in oak with a further, four-month minimum in bottle (Riserva 6 months in bottle.) This change may reflect the international, stylistic, direction in Toscana and Brunello with many producers now using, small, new, French oak, barriques, in lieu of the traditional, large, Slavonian, “botte”. The norm for traditional production of Brunello di Montalcino, which includes all wines produced at SassodiSole, is three years in large, Slavonian ovals for Brunello and four years for Brunello Riserva. Maximum yields allowed are 55hl/ha.
While Montalcino’s climate is mildly Mediterranean, thanks to its proximity to the sea, only 20 miles away, the elevation of the vineyards provides an important, diurnal, temperature variation (hot days, cool nights.) This benefits the grapes by maintaining acidity level and extending their ripening time. The presence of a “tramontana” (northerly wind) also plays an important role in drying and concentrating the fruit.
Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello’s little brother is also produced exclusively from Sangiovese Grosso and by law must be aged a minimum of one year, rather than three, as is the case in Brunello with six months minimum in oak. Rosso di Montalcino can legally be sourced from declassified Brunello fruit (often from young vines,) in which case, the yield must be the same, as Brunello wines, at 55hl/ha or alternately, Sangiovese vines planted outside the more esteemed Brunello di Montalcino DOCG when yields are allowed by law up to 62hl/ha.